Hello all of you readers!
This is a post inspired by a lot of comments we have gotten on Lit Up Review saying, “Oh, I love your design!” or “Who did your design?” or “What was your design process like?”, and I decided instead of answering each question individually, I’d kill infinite birds with one stone. Hence, this extensive post detailing my first experience of hiring a designer and how that went.
PLEASE KNOW: Each designer and each individual design runs differently. Not everyone’s experience is the same, even if you have the same designer. Do your research, THINK about what you want, what you envision, and then evaluate from there. Just know, this was my experience; the truth in all of its glory.
ALSO NOTE: The reason I am not posting this on Lit Up Review is because in light of recent events, the topics discussed in here that are somewhat controversial, and we as the writers didn’t want that to change anyone’s feelings towards our website or for it to interfere with our reader/writer relationships. Therefor, I’m posting it on my personal blog, where I feel more comfortable in discussing this on a more personal level and taking a leap of faith. I am not hating on anyone in this either. I didn’t mention any sites for a reason, so please respect that I wish to only speak positively about my design experiences and about Anna.
All About The Design Process
The Preliminary Stages/Brainstorming: Prior to me hiring a designer, I originally planned on having Meredith (who designed this blog) and I do the design together, but I quickly realized that if I wanted this blog up and running, it needed to happen much faster than either of us could accomplish this. I checked out my favorite blogs and found their designers, I discussed the idea with my parents (since I’m a minor and because they would be paying for it) and they gave me a price limit of $300. So, I started researching. Now, for me, I was like “Oh, that price limit should be FINE!”, but in fact, most good graphic designers are a lot more expensive (in the $400′s). The only ones I found that were less expensive weren’t doing work I loved, so I was on the fence. My top choice, Anna Marie Moore Designs was going through a design revamp and wasn’t able to be contacted at the time, so I shot her a tweet, asking when she would be available for designs and how much they usually cost. It took her a while to get back to me, and during this time, I did a lot of brainstorming on my part: I came up with the theme (lanterns) and found a color palette I liked on Pinterest (GREAT RESOURCE!) and also found some blogs who had layouts I really loved. So, when Anna contacted me about my project, I was all prepared and ready to go, and when she told me that she was willing to do my project for $150 I was ecstatic. (Note, her prices have seen gone back up – but they’re on sale this month! YAY!)
The Design Process: Anna and I emailed back and forth about my design, and she was super excited (as was I). One thing she mentioned that really stuck with me was how nice it was for her to have my ideas and an image of what I was looking for so that she could make sure I was going to be happy with the outcome. My brainstorming had paid off, because it allowed us to both be on the same page as far as design, color, and feel goes. She found some stock I liked and sent it to me, making sure she was headed in the right direction, and at this point, a friend pointed out some past information about Anna’s designs and some people’s experiences.
I’m not going to talk about this in-depth, and if you’re really curious, you can find them online, but I’m instead going to explain my thought process. As a kid, I was (and still am) taught this repeatedly: In order to learn, we have to screw up sometimes. I deeply believe in this, and so I thought, “Anna made some mistakes, and she’s trying to fix the damage and move on, but the only way she can build a good reputation is by finding people to work with who trust her.” So, after discussing it with my parents, who told me to trust my gut, I decided to take a leap of faith and give her a chance to give me a great design.
And she did. She emailed me the header for approval, then the draft of the site, which I showed family and close friends for their thoughts. I really nit-picked it, asking for a bright color here and there, and customizing little details until I was happy with it. Then, she put it up live, and worked with me through the preliminary days of setting up Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads pages (which she did for free in return for the glowing testimony I gave her on my site) and to this day, two months later, she has been doing things for the site, for free, like helping me find widgets and putting them into place.
Post Design: I’m so happy I took that leap of faith and gave Anna a chance, because I couldn’t be happier with my design. It’s absolutely incredible, and it makes me smile every time I log on to write a post. I want to hug and pet it. Other people tweet us and say, “Your design is so beautiful!” which makes ME happy, and Anna too. I consider Anna a good friend who has supported me, and she feels a connection to our site, which I love. She was one of our first followers, first likes on FB, and is a member of our Goodreads group. She is an avid fan of Lit Up Review, as I am of her.
In conclusion: I would like to say these final words: Yes, do your research, but ultimately, trust your gut. If your gut tells you, “Too dangerous!” then by all means DON’T DO IT. But, if your gut says, “Go for it – take a leap of faith!” then give it a shot. A design is something that you should be proud of, so make sure you find someone who can give that to you. In the situation of Anna, I found people who weren’t happy with her and people who loved her, and I took two weeks to think about what I wanted to do. I even backed out at one point, but Anna took a leap of faith and explained what had happened and what she had done to remedy the situation, which made me feel like, “Hey, if she’s willing to lay it all out there and be completely honest with me, that’s worth something, right?” So I decided to jump in.
The trust that both Anna and I both put into our designer-customer relationship is what turned it into a good design and a good experience. You have to trust the people who are doing work for you, but they also have to trust you. So be nice. Be polite. Bring your ideas to the table, and don’t just make them do all the work. Lastly, give your feedback, and don’t be afraid of saying no.