I have done web / mobile dev and produce management for ~ 15 years so I'm familiar with design process etc...

I usually work with this one designer but he's full time now and out of the area. I saw somebody on dribbble.com and told him I wanted a reworking of our unlaunched home page and I told him to spend about 1.5 hours on it. My only requirement was that the content containers should be very close to the same size and I gave him specific highlight colors. What he turned in really doesn't look good (and doesn't incorporate the highlight colors); what should I do?

What he turned is totally worthless (not saying that in a bad sense but there's nothing that loosks good) and, honestly, looks like a blog from 2005. I know an hour and a half isn't a lot but I've had designers actually do great stuff that quick? I've had like 3 designers turn in comps that are unusable and my expectations are just too high or my goal for an initial impression is off. What should I do?

The most valuable resource here is my time and I really want a great looking comp not a lot of back and forthing.

3 Answers 3


You should pay them for the 1.5 hours of work, say "thank you", and then go find another designer with a portfolio that better fits you particular needs and wants.

(And 1.5 hours isn't a lot of time to really explore a solution properly--maybe consider allotting a tad more time)

I really want a great looking comp not a lot of back and forthing.

Keep in mind that Graphic design is like any design process...it typically is a lot of 'back and forthing' as the solution becomes more refined and the needs and requirements become more solidified.

It sounds like you had a really great working relationship with your last designer where you both were better able to "read each other's minds", which was great, but keep in mind that it might take a while to find that type of connection in a new designer.

  • Thx for response. So I probably should have been more explicit about the 'back and forthing'; I always want them to email me specific questions about how I want it to look. A lot o f designers spend WAY too much time on the actual biz logic which is really irrelevant. When working with a new designer, I always end every email with "If any questions, please let me know" so to not email about color schemes is unforgivable. I agree with your other points. I know an hour and a half is not a lot of time but to be honest, most designers are now expected to do a design for a job interview.
    – timpone
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:04
  • 1
    I guess we'd need to know a bit more about your process, but typically, graphic designers need to understand the business objectives and goals. That's what we're designing around.
    – DA01
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:06
  • If you can give a designer an OmniGraffle of a layout, they should be able to make it look modern and good. Like I said, I agree with your points, he's probably not the guy for me.
    – timpone
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:07
  • It sounds like you are looking for a designer to 'theme' a wireframe. That's a rather specific method of designing and likely means you're going to want to find a designer that's comfortable working in that manner. I think it's just going to come down to doing several interviews to find one that works in the particular way that fits your needs.
    – DA01
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:12
  • not getting colors right is inexcusable
    – timpone
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:16

The obvious answer here is to find another designer.

However, there are lots of variables I think one must consider here.

To expect a new designer to understand your expectations right off the bat is a risky gamble and quite unrealistic. Every designer works differently and at different speeds/rates.

Perhaps it's a communication issue? It's hard to say without looking at the full scope of what was done.

Every designer has a different style, it's possible you're not finding one that adheres to yours.

  • definitely could be - I always feel like great designers though can do great work quickly. Like a generic boring design is of concern. Like the design for this site (the blue top pieces) would be fine; like it looks modern and fine. But a bad blog from 2005, ugh...
    – timpone
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:26
  • See, the speed factor is where I disagree. In a perfect world that might be true, but in most cases, I would consider it a rarity. I personally design quite slowly compared to most designers. However, those extra hours I put in has always impressed my clients. It's a matter of perspective. If anything, you should ask how long a designer will take on a project rather than saying they have such a short time frame to do it.
    – Chris N.
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:37
  • If you're doing freelance, speed is always an issue. Usally, I ask him them if they think they can do a good job in the specified time frame. I fully understand the more time thing but usually in an hour and a half, you either can make it look good or not.
    – timpone
    Aug 12, 2013 at 23:07
  • @timpone, design can also be subjective because different people interpret them in different ways. Plus, design trends come and go so what's popular back then may become popular again. If you went with someone that has the right design style it would save you a bit of hassle later on.
    – Michael Lai
    Aug 13, 2013 at 1:09
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    You really can't do strategic and well thought out design in an hour and a half. That's hardly enough time to absorb the design brief and fully comprehend the initial requirements and objectives. You could, possibly, 'decorate' a page in that amount of time, and that's perhaps that is what the OP is going after...but for that to work, one really has to choose the particular designer based on their particular aesthetic style more than anything.
    – DA01
    Aug 13, 2013 at 4:29

You might want to try sites like Freelancer.com or a reverse bidding site and try to create a competition instead. That way you can get lots of ideas at one go, and pick the one that you think is the most suitable for what you need. Just be aware that the amount you are willing to put up will also influence the type of entry that people submit, so you don't want to waste time going through a lot of poor entries just because you don't want to spend much money.

I also think dribbble isn't necessarily the best place to find people for this type of work, perhaps sites like behance would be better?

  • 1
    If you're looking for quality, sites like that aren't the place to go.
    – DA01
    Aug 13, 2013 at 0:36
  • DA01 - I think if you want to find the cheapest solution, then there won't be anywhere suitable. There has to be some trade-off between quality, time and cost. Many of the freelancer sites provide information about user ratings and work history, so at least they can be semi-educated about the choices they make on hiring.
    – Michael Lai
    Aug 13, 2013 at 1:12
  • I shouldn't have painted with such a wide brush, either. Apologies. I was specifically referring to reverse bidding type sites. But yes, I agree, if cheap is a goal, then that's perhaps the route to take.
    – DA01
    Aug 13, 2013 at 2:40
  • @DA01 - I have worked both as a freelancer and in a company, and I know that most people would probably put in more effort as a freelancer because reputation is important when you are working by yourself. This is an interesting infographic that I saw today about online work: odesk.com/info/riseofonlinework
    – Michael Lai
    Aug 13, 2013 at 4:10

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