This month, we’ve been talking all about design. We do this A LOT because we’ve seen how much designing FIRST can impact whether your product is successful – from a financial perspective, to understanding what your customers really want, to even getting funding to make it all happen.

One of our readers sent in a great question about how to actually get started, so we’ll focus on that today. Have a question too? Contact us!

“I read your last blog post on “App Design Options”, and I think I want to go the custom design route. How do I find a designer, and how do I know if they’re right for me?”

Working with a designer can be an incredibly rewarding experience, as you see the product you’ve been thinking and dreaming of come to life in a visual way. For our parent readers, it’s (*almost*) like meeting your baby for the first time 🙂 Ok, not quite, but you get the picture!

But how do you figure out whose style is right for you? Who’s your optimal match?

In a way, it’s a little bit like online dating. (*Disclaimer: The founders of The Startup Hacker got married before Tinder hit the market, so we have a limited understanding of this world)

The first step to finding a designer is determining what YOUR personal & product styles look like.

And these can be different things. Before you even reach out to designers, start building a “profile” of what feels like you and your app.

Take a look at brands you admire. Are there certain stylistic elements you like? Does bold, block lettering resonate with you? Does the color scheme for a particular app “feel” like your product? Are there signs on the street, business cards from colleagues, or even architectural elements in the world that strike you?

Once you have your profile completed, start looking for your match.

Are there designers whose styles already feel like your app? They’re going to be a great place to start. But don’t forget the designers who have varied portfolios – sometimes the best fit is actually going to someone who can capture the unique visual persona of a particular app. The former will work really well for you if you have a pretty clear sense of what you want to accomplish visually; the latter can be gold if you have a general idea of your brand persona, but no particular affinity for certain visual elements.

A few tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to contact startups you admire directly if you like their visual style. Most will be happy to connect you with their designers (assuming they outsourced the design, which is typical for most early-stage companies).
  • Be patient. Finding the right designer can take time.
  • Ask to see a portfolio, and have them explain their process. How many rounds of revisions do they typically include?
  • Start early. Don’t wait to start looking for a designer – ideally, you want to have someone lined up to start as soon as your wireframes are complete.

Ready to get going? Check out our post on how to work with your designer to create the product of your dreams.