It is a good idea to know what to expect from a designer before approaching them. When working with a designer, it is best to start with a telephone call to see whether they are able to do the job, followed by a full brief in the form of a personal discussion.
The brief should be as full as possible, but don’t feel that you must know exactly what you want before you see them. A good designer should put forward his or her own ideas, and suggest ways of achieving what you want. The brief should therefore be a two-way process. On the other hand, don’t let the designer dominate the discussion and persuade you to accept a design which looks superb but doesn’t actually do anything to sell your product!
On the basis of your brief, the designer will be able to quote you a price for doing the layout – and the final artwork if the same person is doing both. You should get a written quote and/or confirm the agreed price yourself in your purchase order.
Having done the layout, the designer will present it to you for approval. You are under no obligation to accept the first version they come up with. If it genuinely doesn’t conform to your brief, then you can ask them to change it, and they should do so at no extra cost. You can even reject it completely and hire another designer, but if you took care in choosing your designer in the first place, that shouldn’t be necessary. If the layout conforms to your brief but doesn’t look right, then the designer will change it, but might charge you extra, although that is unlikely.
If the designer is also doing your artwork, it will be presented to you for checking, and for passing on to the printer or the publication in which you are advertising. Make the following checks:
1) Is everything there?
2) Has the designer followed the agreed layout?
3) Is the artwork clear, with no dirty marks?
4) Are the pictures and text correctly aligned?
If there are any mistakes the designer should correct them free of charge. When setting the designer a deadline, make sure you allow a few days for such last-minute corrections before the artwork is due at the printers.
This check is important, because having checked the artwork, you can’t hold the designer responsible for any errors that slip through.