The 5 Cs of Hiring a Freelance Designer

Have you all heard of the 5Cs? The 5C’s of Credit are a reference to the major elements of a lender’s analysis when considering a request for a loan. Well, how about the 5Cs in a designer context? We naturally think from a designer’s point of view, and forget to step into the shoes of the client. So today, let us think of ourselves as a client and ask: What would we be looking for when considering hiring the best designer for the job?

The 5 Cs for the Client
Image credit: elliryCy

We can use the 5Cs analysis framework to gauge the suitability of a designer. This framework has been used widely in many different industries to analyse the key areas applicable to the product. Though each of the criteria is different for the 5Cs, the framework is created to assist people in making the right decision. Today, we are looking into the 5Cs a client should concentrate on when looking for a designer.

The 5 Cs Clients should look for in a Designer

A client could consider this useful framework for selecting the most suitable designer for their job. The 5C analysis is a characteristic scan on five key areas especially applicable to hiring a freelancer.


Ask for it. One way to know if your designer will be committed to the upcoming project that you want to engage him for is to ask him. Check out the designer’s time schedules and discuss the stipulated deadline for the work to be completed. A client does not wish to have his project delayed just because the designer has received bigger, more profitable projects. As a client there is a need to feel important to the designer.

Image credit: Laura Zalenga

But understand that in order for the designer to be committed to you, you as a client must be committed to him too. That means that you should provide whatever details, content, information or images are required promptly without waiting to be asked.


Analyse the portfolio. It’s obvious that designers usually showcase their best works on their portfolio, which is logical. What a client can do is to check out the works the designer has done and see if they are up to the requirements of the client and are aesthetically pleasing. Creativeness can leave a recurring fingerprint on many aspects; it’s up to the client to pick up on them.

Image credit: 57mondays

They could be in the content, website effects, conceptualization, graphics or even email. Another pointer is the testimonial of “satisfied” customers, we cannot be 100 percent sure of the designer unless we enquire directly with his previous customers.


You can touch hearts with this. A good designer simply cares. He/she could be a perfectionist who basically cares about every element of the project even it strays out of his jurisdiction. Look for any suggestions and constructive feedback from the designer even when you have not decided to hand the job to him.

Image credit: andreakw

It could be a good sign that the designer starts offering some advice or consultation knowing that you are still sitting on the fence. This unselfish act could touch the client’s heart, showing the designer is affable and sympathetic to his clients.


Agreement for the mutual benefit of both parties. I believe every designer wants their client to be happy. It not only increases the chances of returning or referral customers, but also sends a strong signal that what the designer is doing is on the right track.

Image credit: Jeff Bauche

A client should discuss with the designer every phase of the project to reach agreement on what can and cannot be done. There should not be any hidden costs or empty promises from either party. Mutual consent is a great way of achieving a healthy, long term working relationship.


Confidence is different from arrogance. A highly priced designer is not necessarily the one a client can be sure will deliver the best design for him. A client can gain confidence in a designer throughout the project by the designer appearing to be ‘tuned-in’ to his requirements. By the same token, the designer can gain confidence in the client from positive feedback and constructive criticism where necessary. Both the designer and the client should treat the other with courtesy and respect – as they would each like to be treated themselves – a sure way to build mutual confidence.

Image from: traumlichtfabrik

The client should look at previous work undertaken by the designer to decide if he feels the designer can meet his requirements before contracting a job to him. A client has to look out for the “copycats” in the industry, as well as those who pretend to be confident, but do not have the capability to deliver projects satisfactorily.

Do you have the 5Cs?

I am sure that there are still many other C’s, P’s, L’s, X’s, etc out there that clients use to choose their potential outsource target. I believe though, that the ones I have presented here cover the most essential aspects of how a client and a designer get to interact in the freelancing world, and if this strategy is adhered to by both client and designer, the project should run smoothly and successfully for both parties.

What are the attributes that you look out for when selecting a designer or freelancer for your project? Please share with us in the comments or use the poll below!

Do stay tuned for the next part of the 5Cs of Choosing the Right Client.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Onextrapixel.