A good graphic designer makes your work life easier. But if you’re working with someone who exhibits any of the traits below and is resistant to changing their behavior, then it’s time to move on.
- They repeatedly miss deadlines. As we all know, sometimes bad things happen, and usually at the worst possible time: kids get sick, computers crash, traffic crawls, time flies too fast, etc. If your once-reliable designer has started missing deadlines more frequently, then it’s probably time to show them the door.
- They repeatedly make mistakes and/or blame others. No one is perfect, and even the best of projects can have a hiccup at any point. But what your designer does with those hiccups can tell you whether or not you want to keep them around. Do they make the same mistakes over and over? Do they take responsibility when something goes awry, even if it’s not their fault? Do they offer solutions when an issue arises, or do they simply pass the buck and turn off the phone? If you’re shaking your head ‘yes’ to any of these, then it could be a sign your graphic designer needs to go.
- They grumble or complain. Life is short, and working with unpleasant people isn’t fun. If your designer complains when you ask for extra edits, or gets upset when you give critical feedback on a project, or makes you feel bad and is generally difficult to interact with, then look elsewhere. No relationship is completely smooth all of the time, and conflicts do happen, but your designer should always be professional and respectful.
- They’re M.I.A. Does your designer pick up the phone when you call, or do you always get voice mail? When you send an email, do you get a response that day, or three days later (or not at all)? It’s a safe bet that your designer has other clients, and it’s unreasonable to expect that they’ll always be available RIGHT NOW, but if you have to hunt them down and wait ages for contact, then it’s time to find someone more responsive.
- They’re not delivering value or are overcharging you. Are you getting your money’s worth when it comes to design? Are the projects you’re paying for actually getting completed properly? Or are you wasting your precious budget on a website that doesn’t work or an annual report riddled with errors? If you’re spending more and more, and getting less and less with every project, then that money is better spent elsewhere.
- They’re creatively lazy. If you’ve requested two initial design directions and receive the same design in two different colors, or if this year’s “new” brochure looks exactly like last year’s with a minor change, then your designer might be phoning it in. Good design is hard work, and sometimes your budget might not allow for an entirely new look. But if you’re seeing the same old ideas presented over and over again, it’s time to refresh your design team.
- They’re unethical. Anyone who lies, cheats, steals, or breaks contract rules is someone to avoid. Period.
- Their style doesn’t match yours. Graphic design is subjective, and sometimes people have different ideas about what works and what looks good. Even if you have a good working relationship with your designer, it might be time to find someone who is more in line with your preferences—especially if it feels like pulling teeth to get them to produce work in the style you like.
Do any of these sound familiar? Underperforming designers aren’t worth your time, money or reputation. If you’re not getting the service and results you want, then say good riddance to the old ways and reach out to a designer who cares—it’s time to feel good again about your design!
And if you’re wondering what it’s like to work with a design agency—or you’re considering a new one—pick up my FREE report, 7 Things to Look for When Hiring a Graphic Designer, and get started on finding the talented, cost-effective provider you deserve.