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Graphic design requires strong artistic abilities, the ability to use specialized computer programs and the ability to accept critiques of his or her work professionally and politely. Evaluating the designer strictly on artistic ability won't give you a clear picture of his or her skills. Instead, rate her ability to decipher what the client wants and produce a design that meets the client's expectations.
Graphic designers usually are part of a larger team that includes writers and production specialists. Each cog of the wheel must meet strict deadlines for the projects to flow smoothly. This means your graphic designer must have a keen sense of deadlines, work well under pressure and be highly organized. Their evaluation should reflect how well they meet their deadlines and whether they are flexible enough to adjust deadlines as necessary without hindering the work schedule.
Capturing the Essence
A graphic designer needs to be able to understand what the client – whether it's an internal or external client – is trying to accomplish with the designed piece. They should be able to interpret these instructions and return a design that accomplishes the client's stated objectives. If a designer consistently has to scrap designs and start over because the client is unhappy, then they are failing to produce work that meets the client's expectations. However, a few tweaks are to be expected in almost any design project.
Because graphic designers are typically part of larger teams, your designer's ability to work as part of a team should be a factor in any evaluation. He or she must be flexible enough to reevaluate a design and change it in the middle of the process if the client's needs change or the team decides to approach the project from a different direction. In addition, a good designer will have to juggle multiple projects and changing deadlines.
Artists sometimes can be sensitive about criticism to their work. That's impractical in a work environment. Even with the best listening and artistic skills, a graphic designer isn't always going to capture a client's vision in the first draft. Some work must be scrapped altogether and started from a new direction. Evaluate your designer's ability to take criticism well and to make constructive changes to the design without taking the criticism personally.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.