10 Signs Of A High-Quality Designer You Need To Know

We all look for the best in the field when we are hiring. Finding a high-quality graphic designer is no exception. Everyone wants the best designer out there to handle their design work. But it’s not always easy trying to figure out how to spot a great designer. 

As a company that employs great designers, at Kimp we know a thing or two about how to spot them. 

And right off the bat let’s take creativity and imagination off the list of criteria. Without creativity and imagination, no one can be a designer. And simply knowing how to use Photoshop isn’t the same as knowing how to use it well.

A designer who doesn’t have these two key ingredients is like someone trying to make tea without tea leaves. And just a quick look through a designer’s portfolio will give you a sense of what they’re working with in this sense. 

So then let’s get to the other qualities you want to look for when you’re hiring a designer. A quick call or introductory meeting will go a long way here.

1) Curiosity

Why can’t cats be designers? Because curiosity kills a cat. But seriously, a designer has to be curious. They have to see more than skin deep and understand concepts at more than surface level. The curiosity to see what things are made up of has to inspire them. Breaking down everything they see into basic shapes and colours and building them up again in various other forms in their mind is at the heart of being a great designer.

What? Why? How? When? Who? A great designer is full of questions. It’s not because they know very little. It’s simply because they  don’t assume that they know everything and want to know more. Entertain their curiosity and you will be on the receiving end of some great designs.

2) Perfectionism

Pro graphic designers are not easily satisfied. Everything has its place and everything has to be in its place. That’s the only way they keep themselves content. As a client, you can count on this quality to be one of the most valuable in your designers.

They will never hand you a halfhearted design. Every design they make is a masterpiece in some way because they observe every little detail. High-quality designers prioritize attention to detail and pulling focus to these details through thoughtful designs. Asking your potential designers to walk you through some of their portfolio work is a great way to assess this.

3) Thick Skin

Designers are not delicate snowflakes. They deal with various clients and competing deadlines on a daily basis, while aiming to please. They have to have thick skin – and not just regular thick skin. We’re talking as thick as a dragon’s hide.

A design is basically about what the client needs. So high-quality designers are always ready to accept criticism and feedback with a smile. They are well aware that their vision and their client’s needs can vary. They are willing to do everything to align with their client’s goals. It’s a part of their professionalism. Try asking your potential designer about scenarios in which they’ve had to balance their client’s vision with their own.

4) Open-Mindedness

Well this one is a bit obvious. But can be seriously underrated. Each and every day, a designer must keep up to date with trends and best practices. In serving constantly changing industries, and working in one, this is non-negotiable. And a designer can only keep improving if they are open-minded. This means being aware of the design principles their industry is built upon – but not getting so hung up on them that they refuse to try something new.

If your designer falls into the high-quality designer category, they will listen to you with an open mind and see the values in your suggestions and ideas. 

5) Problem Solving

Getting your design done is your problem. And the solution lies with the right designer. Once you find them, they’ll commit themselves to matching up the pieces of your puzzle. And they love doing it.

Great designers have this amazing ability to follow your instructions to the letter and go an extra mile beyond that. Not always on the first go, but you’ll see their efforts to get to know your vision better and cut down on revisions as you work with them. They observe the big picture and see where things can go wrong. Or how they can be done better. They have answers for your questions or a willingness to leave no stone unturned to find solutions. And they have the wisdom to offer up their own opinion on a variety of matters too.

6) Experimenting

Ray Bradbury said that life is ‘trying things to see if they work.’ There is virtually an unlimited number of options as to how a design can be approached. And while some of them can be complex, a high-quality designer is ready to take them in stride. And when you ask for multiple concepts, they’re more than willing – they get excited about creating something new.

For one thing, no designer wants to be left behind with the technique and practices that were only relevant last year. They not only want to keep up, but they want to experiment with all the possibilities. If the designer you choose has the mind of an explorer, you are in luck. Try asking your designer about different concepts and styles they’ve experimented with to get insight into their abilities.

7) Self-Motivation

In the design industry, much is subjective. Rules and guidelines can be interpreted differently based on the project or the person working on it. With no set of ironclad rules, and a variety of different standards, designers are often left to find motivation within themselves.

Experienced designers know how to build up their design process in a way that would benefit both their client and themselves. They will see the project through with unwavering enthusiasm and will accept feedback happily. While an inexperienced or immature designer may decide to walk away if they receive criticism, a high-quality designer will find a way to make things work. On time and within scope. 

8) Adaptability

In an industry as dynamic as graphic design, one has to adapt to survive. Each day brings about new combinations of design elements and new technologies.

With each design they do, designers evolve to better fit the design world. Observe the work of your designer over the course of time. If their designs are getting better with each version, they are the ones with the will and potential to evolve into a better designer each day. And they are the ones who can provide you with the quality you deserve.

9) Communicativeness

A good design is the result of the expectation of the client and the expertise of the designer. As a professional of the design industry, it is up to the designer to keep both their client and themselves on the same page. This is why it’s important to recognize the value of communication in the design process.

As humans have not achieved telepathy yet, communicating our needs through other means is still our best bet. A designer who aims to provide the best result for their client will always maintain good communication with them. They won’t just leave it up to their client to address the tasks at hand. They’ll make sure that many questions are asked and many questions are answered.

10) Friendliness

No one likes a grumpy, gloomy Gus. High-quality designers never fall into this category. They recognize that each project they receive is an opportunity and respect the trust placed in their capabilities. Their demeanor towards their clients is consistently friendly and professional. And they can put their client at ease and provide them with reassurance if any snags are hit along the way.

Besides taking your designer at their word about these ten traits, you may also want to do a bit more due diligence. Consider asking your designer if they have any testimonials or reviews from past clients. Or if they have additional portfolios available (e.g. on sites like Behance or Dribbble).