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Choosing a web designer…

August 29th, 2007

Recently, I conducted a search to find a web designer to redesign our Voter Guide Toolkit web application. My ideal situation was to find a free-lance designer who had experience making sleek “web 2.o” apps, preferably civic-minded, possibly local. It was a frustration process, but I think it has a happy ending now.

I had a three-pronged attack. My first instinct was to place this uninspired posting on craigslist. Second, I sent it to three developers I know to send on to any designers they might now. Third, I conducted a web search.

So, here’s what happened. The craigslist posting was a waste of $75; I only received generic responses from recruiters, design shops, people seeking full-time rather contract work, etc. Word of mouth at first yielded no results. In my web search, I came across this great resource that is a central listing of designer portfolios worldwide called coroflot.

Before things got better, things got worse. By looking at hundreds of portfolios, I figured out that the real core competency I wanted was icon design. (We have a pretty good handle on the user interface design.) I found this interesting site, and as a bonus the designer lived in San Francisco. He responded with a nice email, and I hired him. But after a week or so without any real progress, he begged out of the project because his dog died. So back to square one.

Finally, I got a response from a neat shop called TurboMilk based in Samara, Russia. I liked their sensibilities and process, all of which is documented in their blog. They use basecamp to manage interactions. It is necessary to have something like that, because we are 12 time zones apart and essentially never available at the same time.

I’ll post a follow up when the project is completed so you can see the results for yourself!

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