When you decide to work with a Graphic Designer, I think it is important to have an understanding of the working relationship you are entering in to. Graphic Design is a unique business in that it is really part service, part product. While you are paying for a final piece in the end, you are also paying for everything that got you there.
Most importantly, it is crucial to understand that you are not simply paying for the final design. You are paying for the hours that were spent creating that design, as well as the expertise that the designer brings to the project.
I have had people ask me if they should have to pay for a design that they didn’t care for. The answer is – yes, you are obligated to pay the designer. He or she has worked the hours and should be compensated as such.
Many designers work a kill fee into their contracts, meaning that if you feel you are not happy with the design at some point during the project, you can pay this portion of the quoted design and stop the process. This is a fair way to be compensated for the hours, while saving the client frustration and the cost of going through the whole process.
The next thing that it is important to understand and negotiate is what will be the final product. Many designers have written into their contract that you are buying a print-ready pdf for printed materials. This ensures that what you receive will print correctly. Many clients do not have the proper software to open native files, and final pdfs simplify this. It can be a liability to hand over working files or native files, as if any changes are made, it is impossible for the designer to make guarantees once it has been handled by an external source.
That said, there are instances when native files are necessary, such as in cases of large corporate clients. If this is your situation, make sure to make this clear to the designer up front. This will often come at a higher cost, but very few designers will deny you the files if you negotiate from the beginning, and in the end you will have what you need.
Overall, understanding what you are paying for and how to negotiate will make your transactions go more smoothly and ensure you are a satisfied customer.