It can be very difficult for a client looking to commission graphic design to determine how much it will cost and to budget accordingly. The reasons for this are numerous: individual projects may vary greatly in scope and duration, individual rates also vary greatly from company to company and sometimes hidden or unforeseen costs may arise. All these factors may seem confusing and possibly intimidating to potential clients but the following points may help to make your graphic design purchasing process a lot easier:
1. Determine the exact scope of your project before approaching a graphic design company.
The more information you can give a graphic design company about your project, the more accurate a price they will be able to quote. Asking a graphic design company to quote for a brochure is vague and a bit like asking a builder to quote for a house. How many pages approximately will be in the brochure? Will you be supplying photos and proof-read copy in a text file? Will diagrams and graphs be required etc? Any relevant details that you have will be very helpful in enabling a graphic design company to determine the correct price.
2. Approach graphic design companies that seem a good fit for your project.
Graphic design companies tend to have individual styles or to work in particular sectors. While they may not be explicit about this on their website or literature, reviewing a portfolio of work will usually give a potential client a good indicator of where a graphic design company's particular strengths or experience reside. It makes sense to request a quote from companies who you feel would be a good fit for your project or who have experience of doing similar work. Being selective is a good way to save time rather than bulk emailing the first ten graphic design companies who appear on Google.
3. Have a budget in mind.
While many clients are reluctant to reveal any details of budget, sometimes it makes sense to let a graphic design company know a ballpark figure. This can save everybody's time if the scope of the project is way outside the budget for that particular company. The designer may be able to suggest alternatives or recommend another design company who can work within that budget. While a client's reluctance to give a figure is understandable, the vast majority of people who run graphic design businesses are ethical people who want to do an excellent job for a fair price and will tell you out straight if the budget is realistic or not.
4. Choose your designer based on value, not on cost.
As previously mentioned, graphic designers and graphic design companies can vary greatly in cost. There is a very good reason for this - not all designers are equal! A well established, reputable graphic design company with a track record of delivering quality projects is going to cost more than somebody who is one year out of college and working from a spare bedroom. That is not to say that the bigger company will always produce the best work, far from it. However, it is important to consider factors such as professionalism, reliability and experience. It is advisable to choose a designer with real business knowledge and experience who will produce work that delivers a tangible return on your investment. Choosing the cheapest price may be a risky way to achieve that goal. In graphic design, as in so many things, you get what you pay for.
5. Have everything agreed before you start.
Lastly, it is an excellent idea to agree full costs, scope and terms of business before starting any project. Ideally this should mean written terms of business signed by the client and the graphic design company setting out what is involved and what each party can expect. Verbal agreements are hazy at best and what is understood by one party may be very different to that of the other party. Most projects will work out very well, especially if you have chosen your graphic design company carefully, but on the rare occasions problems develop it is usually because of miscommunication at the start. Having everything written down and laid out on paper is a great way to ensure a hassle-free process for everybody and to manage the expectations of all parties.