It’s the universal issue for a small business – lack of resources. We’d all love a designer on hand to put into images what we’re trying to say, and with the arrival of marketplaces like Fivver and DesignCrowd on the internet scene, it’s very tempting to skip the pain of paying for a graphic designer and start a logo design project with someone halfway around the world.In fact, as the owner of a company with my biggest overhead being their wage bill, would not a jaunt of a website such as these be far easier than paying for designers to sit in our office?One of the biggest obstacles that arise from working with designers online is important aspects of your business that you want to convey is lost in translation. I’m not referring to language barriers, but in that, it’s hard to communicate the important things you want to get across, and less important without having a face-to-face meeting. Designers pick up on the nuances, emphases, and enthusiasm of a business owner when they talk about their business that often even the business owner doesn’t even know they’re doing.But for those small businesses that don’t have a trusted designer that they can call on, then here are some tips for getting the most out of a designer online.

Look out for pricing pitfalls

As with many things on the internet (and in advertising in general), often the stated price is actually the ‘starting’ price. It might cost you five (United States) dollars to get your project started, but which designers are in the lineup at that price? The more qualified designers begin in the hundreds of dollars, so be sure you have a clear idea of budget versus your expectations.

Many of these sites also offer a money-back guarantee. Ensure you read the fine print. You may not get your posting fee back (which is another cost to consider).

Have a (really) clear understanding of where you want the design to be used

When you look at something in isolation, for example a website design without your content and photos in it, or a logo that’s been supplied with a Photoshop effect (embossed on paper, and on a jaunty angle), it’s hard to really visualize how it will look on invoices or a website header.

Print the logo out, on white, and shrink it down to the size of a business card. See if it works as a wide, skinny (horizontal) logo on the top of a website header. Print it in black and white and see if it is still legible, and has the same impact and feeling as in colour.

Finally, put it on a coloured photo and see if it holds its own.

Know your market, know your business and stay true to your values

Have you ever gone to the supermarket to buy bread and milk and walked out with ten other things? There is a reason the milk is at the far end of the supermarket - to make you walk past all the other options on display.

It’s easy to get so tied up in the design process that when a designer shows you a ‘really cool’ design, you buy on emotion, instead of weighing up if it actually suits your business, as opposed to just being a shiny, exciting new object.

Give your new design the grill down. Does it really appeal to your target market? Does it reflect your values? If it’s a wishy-washy, pretty logo, does it suit you as a car yard? Does your tagline work with it? Will it work on a dark background? Is it an improvement of what you already have?

Know what to do once you have the files

You’ve got your design finalised and you’re ready for your files. You’ll most probably be sent them as an eps, Adobe Illustrator file as well as a jpeg. Just because you may not be able to open the eps or Illustrator file, don’t delete it! These files are what designers and printers work in, so keep them on hand when you’re ready to go to print.You’ll need to ensure you can resize your logo, ready to post on your Facebook page, Instagram feed and email footer. Make sure you know where you’ll be using the files so as to ask your designer for the appropriate type. Working with a graphic designer online is a great way to understand how the design process works. It’s also a true test as to how well you communicate what you do to someone who’s coming in cold to your business and whose job it is to create a design that represents you. We have many clients that have worked with these online design businesses that become great clients as they appreciate the value of having someone who specialises in ‘picking client's brains’ in order to develop a better design solution.

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Amanda van Kuppevelt

Owner and founder of Delineate who's mad keen about client successes