How to find a good designer for your startup

Designer problem ( I mean challenge )

The look of your project is everything. If your idea is super great, but looks like shit – no one will like it, use it or invest in it. (On the other hand, I see many shitty ideas get tons of attention because they are eye-candy.)

But designers with understanding of human behavior (or, as they like to call it, UI/UX) are hard to find. And if you find one, the chances that they will also provide you with good/valid HTML and CSS are slim. But let’s assume for a second that you get lucky and find such a designer – what now? How do you get him onboard? What you can/should offer them?

designer's desk

 3 options

In my experience, you have a few options:

  • Hire a freelancer using odesk/freelancer.com/elance.com – Depending on the complexity of your project, it might cost you from $20 to $200 per page. More often than not, you can get CSS and HTML with it. The advantage of this solution is price – it is cheap. Disadvantage: it’s a real pain. Most of these guys just want to finish as fast as they can and get your money. So they’ll do EXACTLY what you ask – even if the result is horribly catastrophic – and they will not invest a second in trying to improve it. When you get initial bids for your job you may see – “unlimited revisions” but don’t be naïve. After three or five revisions you start to sense how impatient the freelancer has become, and sometimes even rude. Other times they will just cancel the job. And you will never get the level and quality of work that you see in their portfolio.
  • Second solution is 99designs – I’ve separated this site from the others because the designers on this one are great. Not all, but most. Depending on the number of designers you want to work on your job and their level of experience, you can pay as “low” as $599 or as high as $1599 (I personally don’t see any reason pay $2499 for the platinum package). The site shows you examples of completed projects, and they are impressive and professional. The advantage of this solution is that the quality of the work will likely be very good, if not amazing. The disadvantage is price, and that you’ll only receive designs. Getting html and css for those designs will cost you more money, and you’ll already have paid a lot.
  • Hire a dedicated UX/UI web designer – Thanks to all the hype about flat and minimalistic design, there are almost no good designers available. The decent ones are constantly being approached by companies, startups and “wantrepreneurs”. So those guys are on an ego trip, like a beautiful girl on a dating site. They might eventually provide you with amazing results, but they will take time. Most of them describe themselves not as mere designers, but “artists”. Of course, they will soak you in terms of price.

Of course, every entrepreneur thinks his idea is the next Facebook. So they usually propose equity to prospective partners. But nowadays designers don’t need/want equity from a couple of guys off the street. They want only money. And I understand where they’re coming from.

Unfortunately, money is one thing we don’t have. To be honest, $1599 is a freaking lot of money for us. We (me and my partners) have about six to eight months’ worth of “survival money”– and that’s it. Our hope is to find a great UI/UX person who will fall in love with our idea. Fall in love so much that he or she will accept less than $1000 and some kind of options arrangement or 3-5% of our first investment

Tomorrow we meet a couple of those designers. We’ll see how it goes.

What will you give to get a good designer for your startup – assuming that money is something you don’t have ? Will you accept a designer as a founder? Even if his work takes two or three weeks and the rest of development will be slaving away for three or four months? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

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2 thoughts on “How to find a good designer for your startup

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