Finding the right designer

Need a designer but don’t know where to start? Discover the top recommendations for hiring the right professional designer for the job.

child looking through telescope in New York

Choosing who to work with on your design projects, whether it’s personal or professional, is one of the most important aspects of bringing them to life in the way you imagined. 

From where to start to how to hire, here are my recommendations for making the right decision at the earliest possible opportunity: 

Where to look 

It’s a busy market out there. Knowing where to look is half the battle, but getting in with local co-working spaces and professional creative associations are always a good start. In Bristol in particular, Bristol Media comes highly recommended. 

If you aren’t in the area, check out Behance and Dribbble; there’s some great talent on these social platforms that allow designers the chance to showcase their portfolios. 

(As an aside, it’s also great for designers themselves to regularly check in on the kind of work they’re competing with on these platforms).

Medium is another great platform that lets designers showcase their in-depth knowledge with articles as well as their work, so be sure to check the breadth of experience on there as well.

Personally speaking, word-of-mouth is the best way to find reliable designers for hire. Most of my work comes from referrals, which proves that it always pays (often literally) to ask around before you look around. 

Review their portfolio

It’s one thing finding a designer who looks good on the surface of their Dribbble profile, but it also pays to dig a bit deeper. Don’t be afraid to ask for the work that didn’t make it to their online galleries to make sure they’ve got substance as well as style. 

Dig into each project and investigate the roles they played. How integral were they to the creative output? Did they help define the direction or did they simply execute a basic brief? 

It’s crucial to remember that this process is about finding strategic creative solutions and not just simple creative execution. You’ll be able to see individual styles shine through in portfolios, but it’s the thoughts and questions that shaped them that are most important. Did they create wireframes? Did they involve developers in the design process? 

Ask the crucial questions; you never know what you might discover.

Create a flexible budget 

They say that if you think hiring a professional designer is expensive, you should wait until you hire an amateur.

Be sensible with your budget and don’t be ripped off, but don’t be afraid to pay a little more for a higher quality output. If you cut back too much, you might be left with more pieces to pick up yourself at the end of the project. 

The best designers might have higher day rates, but it’s always worth negotiating, especially if there is a possibility of a long-term relationship. You’d be surprised how open some designers can be when it comes to working with the right people. 

Hiring a designer

If you’ve made a shortlist of designers for your project, the recommended next step is to meet them in person to further challenge their credentials.

This way, you can understand if you can work together in both the short-term and, if it works out, the long-term. 

Test projects are generally a turn-off for experienced designers, so it’s recommended to avoid them even if you are willing to pay for them.

Get straight into the nitty gritty of the project. An important thing to remember is to have a defined and detailed idea of what you want before you make a decision on a designer. It helps get projects off the ground quicker and allows for a smoother working relationship between you and your new contact. 

Most designers will have their own briefing templates to supply and will support them with a number of questions, but this is exactly what you want: inquisition and a desire to make the work right for you. 

Once the project can get off the ground, let them work their magic and check in now and again on the progress with your project. Good designers will involve you in the process for that all-important feedback, so be prepared to challenge their thinking and ways of working at this stage, too. 

A sense of mutual professionalism and respect will allow you to build a long-term relationship for the benefit of both parties, so communication is key at every stage. 

If you don’t have Touch ID or prefer not to use it, you have to enter three random characters from your password, which can be a frustrating system if you’ve opted for a long one.

The app could be more accommodating in this way, but perhaps updates are in the pipeline over at HL.

My accounts

The fact that you’re able to see your entire portfolio at a glance is super helpful and makes the app very easy to use and your investments very easy to access.

Clicking into a specific account allows you to see the detail you need in relation to gains and losses over time, but I can’t help but feel that it’s not granular enough. It could do with more filtering options to give you greater control over what you see on-screen.

Charts and technical indicators could be included to bring the accounts to life and take advantage of landscape view in larger smartphones.

Another drawback is that it’s currently not possible to set up monthly savings or move funds between accounts; you have to go online or call HL direct to do so, which isn’t ideal for what should be basic tasks.

It’s also not possible to see broker forecasts, reports or accounts of certain stock and funds, so making smarter decisions on where to invest is made unnecessarily and slightly more difficult.


The app features the ability to organise your favourite investments into folders called Watchlists, which is one of my most-utilised features.

There are a couple of areas that are ripe for improvement here, too. I’d love to see total costs, including gains and losses for each of the Watchlists, and have the kind of organisational functions you have for subfolders as you do for bookmarks on Google Chrome (sub-Watchlists, if you will).

Collaboration with others could also be possible here. If the app could facilitate shared Watchlists, you’d be able to collaborate on ideas to make smarter investments with your family and friends as well.

There are also a few discrepancies between the app and the website whereby this part of the service is still referred to as ‘Virtual Portfolio’, so that could do with clearing up to avoid confusing users.


HL makes good use of its news section to share its expertise and standing in the market, which I find very useful and informative.

Personalisation and accessibility would be key here, though. There’s currently no ability to filter or select my own sources of news and no features that are catered to those with impaired vision.

There are also no videos and few images to enhance the experience for people. The usefulness of the content would be vastly improved if, along with this, they introduced interlinking and improved bookmarking in the app. There’s too much manual work involved on the part of the reader as it stands.


Overall, there’s a pleasant experience to be had in an app that is this easy to navigate. It’s not difficult to find what you want, but this benefit could be even better with things like more detailed bookmarking.

From a design perspective, it looks clean and lends itself to a positive brand experience, but not for those with a tablet or those using different parts of the website.

There have been a few disappointed customers who have expressed the same kinds of frustrations I experienced, so it would be no surprise to see the developers and designers rectifying that in future updates.

The management of my personal finances has been improved on the whole thanks to this app, but I think there’s still work to be done on the small things to allow it to appeal to audiences on a bigger scale.