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If you'd rather get the entire article in one piece rather than camping online to read it
download the May, 2001 DT&G PDF edition
...from the "Letters" department

Each year during May and June we get hundreds of calls, letters and emails from young graduates who would like to work for Showker Graphic Arts & Design or any of the Graphic Design Network web sites. This year, since we had a specific letter from a potential employer, we thought it would be cool to show graduates how we approach reviewing candidates for employment.

Mary, in Pasadena wrote to ask:

I hope you can help me or direct me to someone who can -- 
regarding obtaining a web designer & graphic designer

Hire a Designer

Mary, let me say up front that the relationship you are looking for is one that is beneficial to you and your firm, and one that is valued and beneficial to the designer or web master you hire.
So, here are your six questions, and my six answers...

Mary's question #1.
What questions should I ask before deciding upon a web designer?

How many years have you been in visual communications?
Almost everyone is a webmaster these days. From 5th graders to your neighbor's niece. Having a background in graphic design, or marketing design is an invaluable foundation to the skills required to present information that you'll be hanging your hat on. While most will say it's not necessary when it comes to the web, I feel that some background in the field, and/or at least some formal training would be highly desirable. I go against popular opinion in this, however for my money, I'd rather let some other business 'train' that individual, and get myself someone with a track record, and a little gray on top.
Can you give me URLs of your favorite (visual, not content) web sites?
Discovering what the designer likes can suggest what kind of looks they'll be presenting to you.
What's wrong with this page?
Prepare (or buy) a simple web page where an intentional mistake has been included. Updating web pages and making corrections is of paramount importance to you. Some can fix a glitch in two seconds... where others might take two hours. This translates directly to money out of your pocket. If they list 8 things they 'think' is wrong perhaps they're good... but if they don't catch the right mistake, there should be a reason why.
Here's a page, what would you do with it?
It's not out of the question to have a little test before making your final decision. It's always nice to see if their words meet the implied expectations of their actions. Make it simple and give them a day or two to present their results. They may say they can produce a good page but you want someone who can. Many will say 'NO.' You can expect this. At that point you need to decide if this last step is wholly important to you. My answer to you would be no, unless I really, really wanted your account. However, like myself, the ones who say NO will have already sold you -- so you won't feel a need for a test.
Who have you worked for?
This is the most important of all. They should be able to produce happy clients and customers -- not just the links to their sites, either! You're looking for LIVE references. (This is more important, by the way, than the portfolio.) Call them.


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