So many people now are trying their hand at graphic designing, whether they acquired formal training for it or not. Now, there's nothing wrong with amateur graphic designing; sometimes the work produced within that avenue could be the most creative, refreshing and "out-of-the-box" stuff around. That brings us to the question: how can we effectively evaluate the work of graphic designers?
Before setting down some guidelines, it is important to note that graphic design, like most other art domains, is basically results oriented. This just means that though the designers' training and education give you an idea about his level of qualification, it is only by the final product that you could give a definitive evaluation of his work. That's why it's important that before you hire a graphic designer, you take a look at his portfolio so you could tell if his artistic style, methods, and even the medium he usually works with fits him for the job you have in mind.
Say that you have finally hired a graphic designer, and he has finished creating the design that you have stipulated, what are some factors to consider to help you evaluate it?
Its aesthetic appeal. This is probably the most basic; it's the factor that you would observe once you come into visual contact with the design. Factors that are included are the font (its type and size), colors, images, the layout, and the medium. One tip is to remember what your impression is of a design the first moment you viewed it. Did the colors strike you as too intense? Did the color combinations produce an effect that suggested weakness or feebleness? Was the layout too confusing, or much too organized so as to be branded as unimaginative? More often than not, first impressions produce the most lasting effect, so it's important to note the design's first impression on you.
Its effectiveness to fulfill its purpose. What is the purpose of the design? Let's say it's for marketing. If this were the case, you'd need to evaluate the design based on its effectiveness as a marketing tool. Does it appeal to its target audience (for example, does it use words, images, colors that the target audience commonly relates to)? Does it effectively reflect what the product stands for - or in other words, is there consistency between product and design? If you were a consumer, would you be moved to purchase the product because of the design?
Remember, there are many questions you may ask yourself when you're analyzing the design, based on its ability to fulfill its given purpose. The surest way here is to hold a brainstorming session with trusted people, so you could list pertinent questions and criteria.
Its medium of presentation. Usually, when a designer submits his work, it's printed on the best quality paper and in high quality ink. What if the design is intended to be enlarged to billboard size? You have to supervise the construction of the final, final product to make sure that it still maintains the highest level quality possible. Using the billboard example, you wouldn't want it to come out all pixelated or bland-looking because it turned out that the design isn't appropriate aesthetically for larger-than-life recreations. Also, check it out for minor errors in printing (if there are spots in some areas, or some fine lines where there shouldn't be).
Other practical aspects. For example, if the design is meant to be mobile, it shouldn't have heavy oak weighing 20 pounds as part of its components. Be sure to clearly state how the design is to be used and presented, so the designer would be able to work with proper media. Also, you may analyze the designer based on his ability to work within the given budget and the given time frame. Of course, for your part, you'd have to be very clear about your expectations and the guidelines that he has to follow. Remember, just because a graphic designer is results-oriented, as he is hired in a professional capacity he is expected to demonstrate proper work ethics and to comply with the specified instructions, as well.
These are just some guidelines to help you evaluate a graphic designer's work. As a final word, be sure always to keep an open mind and to use your sound judgment.