Should you hire a Graphic Design Generalist or Specialist?

How To Hire A Professional Graphic Designer

vortex-miami-graphic-design-generalistsWhen a business needs a graphic or digital marketing firm to revamp their website, sales promotion designs, or presentation design and branding, there’s an important choice that must be made. What’s better, a designer specializing in your industry or a graphic design generalist?

The design specialist will have an intimate knowledge of your industry. For example, a real estate design specialist may have created development project marketing materials, identity, sales brochures and signage, but chances are that they’ve done little or nothing outside of real estate.

A generalist, on the other hand, has worked in a wide variety of industries and clients. These graphic designers often take more initiative when it comes to research and concept development, working closely with their clients to meet goals unique to both the business and the industry.

While both graphic design generalists and specialists have their advantages, here are five reasons why a generalist may be a better choice:

  1. Generalists will offer a fresh look at your industry – While a specialist may be able to provide a time-tested, tried and true method of design, it essentially becomes a one-size-fits-all solution to unique problems. Generalists tend to be able to present a product or service with a truly innovative approach. The specialist is always looking in the rearview mirror, asking what has worked in the industry whereas the generalist looks at a wider range of business sectors before proposing what will work best.
  1. Generalists will offer a broader perspective – Businesses and industries may have certain unwritten rules or traditions about their graphic design process that only a specialist knows. However, the generalist can see beyond that and look at the patterns in varying projects (, disparate industries, or during different time periods. They’re able to see the trends in designs across the board and apply them to any project, unlike a specialist who may only able to incorporate the trends in one industry.
  1. Generalists will be able to introduce new production methods – A specialist may rely on tried and true production techniques while generalists will have a more expansive knowledge of processes and methodologies. A specialist’s adherence to existing approaches may allow them to get from start to finish more quickly, but the generalist’s wider knowledge allows for more innovative production solutions that can provide needed project cost advantages or flexibility.
  1. Generalists will provide more interaction – Specialists know what they’re doing; they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. Generalists need a certain amount of education and guidance during the process, allowing for more dialogue, evolution of concepts and refinement.
  1. Generalists will often cost less – If a business is looking for a specialist, they’ll likely be budgeting a pretty penny for them. Specialists tend to be in high demand, but are in short supply. Generalists, allowing them to take on more clients and therefore are able to charge less. Generalists can be more productive and efficient by working with tools and methods a specialist may not have experience with.

Overall, a good rule of thumb for a business is to seek out a generalist when you have more time to explore options and value new creative perspective and a specialist when you face tighter deadlines and production constraints.

If you’re not sure where and how to begin searching for a design firm, you might want to read this post.
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.

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