Working with Designers Casestudy

When it comes to the web I’ve got quite a diverse skill set but one area I’m severely lacking in is graphic design so this is a job I always outsource. I’ve used numerous designers over the years with mixed levels of success, in this post I’m going to share my latest experience (which I’m pleased to say went quite well).

Finding good designers can be tricky. I used to use forums like Digital Point where I’d post my requirements, offer a decent monetary prize and then wait for submissions to come in. This normally led to a good number of varied submissions (ranging from absolute crap to excellent) however I always found these designers may be good in competitions but were not consistent and often vanished off the face of the earth when you needed them. So how do you find a good and reliable designer?

Word of mouth and personal referrals for me has been the best approach. When you’ve been in this business a while you network and get to know a fair few people and I’m sure at least one will have a logo or design that you like, so simply ask for the designers details. In my case this was done via Twitter, I was following Cory Shop and he posted about the work he’d received via Twitter, so I checked out his previous work, the style suited me I went for a couple of logos for new blogs I had planned.

The process is fairly simple you pay upfront $150 for 3 logo mockups and then refine as needed. I did try to haggle but $150 is pretty cheap and Cory wasn’t budging (the price is due to go up to $300 so I suppose I got them half price :) ). Next step is answer a set of questions about your requirements:

1) Your company name(if already decided upon)
Blog : Foolish Gadgets (

2) Target Audience and the industry the company is involved in. Description of the company or venture.
Gadget blog focusing more on the crazy/foolish side of the gadget world

3) An existing Website address (if any)

4) Desired Colors
Open to ideas

5) Text or Slogan that will go with the logo
NA (yet)

6) Other logos the client may like

7) Specific objects they would like to see in the design
I like the idea of a court jester being in the design somewhere

The first drafts came back within 3 business days:

I like elements of each design but none were what I was really looking for, so emailed Cory explaining (Note, Coolest Media is another logo he was working on for me at the same time).

Thanks for those. Could I get a couple of adjustments please/

I’d like to go for Coolest Media #1 but could you also do a version with in blue at the end please.

With the foolish gadgets I’m after a bit of a mixture. I like the text from #2 but without the pen knife. Could you do the OO like you have on Coolest Media but make the smile something foolish like blowing a raspberry (not sure how) and also add the jester hat from design #3 above the OOs. Finally I’d like foolish to be different colors to differentiate, so would you be able to provide a few suggestions please.

A week later (public holiday in Canada delayed things) we had a new version:

This was getting closer to what I was after but not quite so:

These are the changes I’m after to foolish
- Current mouth looks more angry than confused so can you change it to a confused style (like an emoticon ~ but better).
- Tag line should be “coz not all gadgets are cool” this also needs to be darker/more readable
- Lose the nose (this was a debated one, and it was voted off but be only 1 vote)
- The hat is too tall, it’s currently 75pixels above the top of the f, could we reduce this and move it closer to the OO, also have a slight gap or white outline between the f and hat (hopefully that makes sense)

The next version arrived:

Which was close but:

Couple of minor points on foolish. Hat and eyes look fantastic. Could we have a vertical .com at the end in the blue foolish lettering (sorry should of mentioned this before), extend the byline to go under the .com and could you change toe coz to because (I didn’t think e had enough space before seeing it) Last bit is the smile, I’m after a more squiggily look

The final version is this:

We were also provided with more source files than I knew existed:

Corel Draw File – .CDR – Layered files. This is your primary source file.
Adobe Illustrator File – .ai – Layered files. Often used for print and required by print companies
Adobe Photoshop File – .psd – Layered files. Often used for print and required by print companies
PDF File – .pdf -A format everyone is familiar with.
EPS File – .eps – Often used for print and required by print companies
Font Files – .ttf – All the fonts that were used in the design.
Images Folder and files – 3 different sized images in a format that is ready for the web.

In total the whole process took 2 weeks and I’m very happy with the result. What I particularly liked about working with Cory was his reactions to changes and suggestions, always professional and willing to do what ever it took, I like working with people like that.

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. Pretty cheap. I’ve got a guy out in the US who creates images and bespoke WordPress themes for me. He’s charging me £250 for a theme from scratch with logos etc. I’ll get links to his prior work and drop them into a comments box.

    James’s last blog N96 Preorder now

  2. Hi Al,

    I used the contest forum @ digital point too, for my current project. You hit it right on the nose about the availability and turn around time after the contest is over. I loved the variety and quality during the contest. But it took over a month to get my design finished.

    Loganet’s last blog post..Blogging Tool Autocopy

    • I’ve had 3 different designers from DP. They each started great at first but we’d get to the second or third job and then they’d go AWOL. I think you have a lot of bedroom/hobbiest designers on there.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing things like this Al. I think that there are a lot of webmasters having difficulties finding designers (for logo or website themes) and word of mouth are absolutely the best way to find good people. If you know of a fair priced professional wp theme designer please let me know. Thanks 😉


    Mikael Rieck’s last blog post..Make Your Mark on the WP 2.7 Design

  4. The changes are remarkable! From the way that it was being done, I can see that Cory definitely did a great job! The end result is fantastic, and yes, I like the squirmy smile too.

    Keith’s last blog post..Mollom - Spam Comments Exterminator

  5. Hi Al

    It looks like he did a great job on the logo for your new site, very interesting to see how it transformed from his original concept.

    Good luck with the new site.


    Roland’s last blog post..3G iPhone on Pay & Go with O2 - September 16th

  6. @Mikael Rieck - Thanks, it’s the sort of post you don’t normally see and I just thought it would be useful to share the process, so very pleased it’s appreciated, was a bit unsure at first.

    @Keith, @ Roland - Yeah the design did change a fair amount, he did two for me at the same time and the other was spot on straight away but this made a more interesting post.

    @James - £250 isn’t bad for a full theme, the last one I got quoted for was £1500 which I’m sure would of been great but I’m planning on launching a number of new sites which would of got crazily expensive

  7. That was a very interesting insight in working with designers… something I haven’t done yet but have to get involved into these days. We’re currently designing a logo for a project I’m helping out with but the manager (the one who communicates with the designer) seems to think that version 1 is best because ‘they’re professionals and know better’.

    But since the logo you got in the end is so much better than the first proposals, I’m sticking to my guns and insisting on changes…

    Jen’s last blog post..R/C Star Wars R2-D2

  8. Good luck to the new site:) Cheers!

  9. Thanks Al, that was an interesting read. I find the articles you and Scott post about your work processes are very useful.

    FYI I’ve recently been talking to a logo design co in Rotherham, UK -

    They’re currently offering logo design for £165 and have other packages for websites, print, etc.

    Haven’t used them for a live project yet, but have met them in person and they seem like a good bunch!

    Cheers, Jon

    Jon’s last blog post..Salon Logos, Salon Websites - Free design inspiration

  10. Al great job. That was very well written. Tutorials and case studies like this are great for everyone involved, the web needs more of them.

    I really enjoyed working with you on this and I think the end result speaks for itself. We arrived at a very stylish and cool looking logo.

    Looking forward to working with you again in the future.

    Cory Schop

  11. 150 was pretty cheap. I’d also advise to get a 2 colour (black and white) version for printing as well as making sure the DPI resolution is high for print.

    NZ Mobiles’s last blog post..Samsung M320

Leave a Reply