When you’re looking to tackle a project with a professional design agency, it’s easy to get swept away in the launch process. You’re so excited about getting started, and you have so many wonderful ideas – it’s often difficult to slow down and truly evaluate whether the agency you’re working with is, well, any good.

It’s tricky because even if you’re interviewing a design agency who does sub-par work, they may be saying all the right things. Or, more likely, they’re saying the things that you want to hear. This isn’t inherently bad. In fact, you want to work with a designer who is going to listen to your ideas and reiterate them to you, clarifying every detail as they work through your project. However, it’s also important that you stay attentive during the initial interview process. There are a few key questions a good designer should ask on your first call – and if they don’t, it may be time to reconsider working together, or redirect the conversation.

What are your goals?

A designer worth working with is going to care more about creating something beautiful. They’re going to want your finished design to be a reflection of your company and your goals – both short and long term. A beautiful website that doesn’t convert won’t do you much good. And a stunning logo that doesn’t resonate with your ideal client is just going to be a pain to redesign later on in your career.

If you can find a designer who is not only aesthetic-focused, but also tuned in with who you are as a business owner and where you want to go – you’ll be better off for it.

Who is your audience?

Without knowing who you’re trying to reach, your designer won’t be able to create something that’s an effective asset for your business. Of course, they also won’t be able to do this if you’re unsure of who you’re trying to reach. Before speaking with someone, get clear on who your target audience is, what they want, and what value you can provide them. Then, when you’re speaking with a designer, you’ll be able to communicate that message and help to guide the design process.

What would you like to communicate to the world?

This is a fairly broad question, but it’s important, nonetheless. A designer needs to know what kind of message you want your business to communicate to the world. If at any point they aren’t clear on your vision, they need to clarify. All of your design and content projects need to directly tie in to your message. Your designer should view themselves as an extension of your team, and adopt your vision as their own. With every design decision they need to be asking themselves: Does this help clarify the point I’m trying to make? Or does it detract from my message and brand?

What existing materials do you already have?

In order to keep your brand and messaging consistent, it’s important for a designer to know what materials you already are working with. Whether that’s a logo design or a preexisting blog that’s chock-full of branded content, every piece should be unified – including any new design work they help to create for you.

What does success look like for you?

This question pertains to both the project you’re interviewing a designer for, as well as your overall business goals and perceptions of success. If having a website that attracts and converts clients is your goal, that’s wonderful. If you want a logo that helps to build your brand, good for you! If you want your big-picture marketing projects to help you reach a particular revenue figure, client number, or to attract customers that fit your “ideal” profile – that’s great!

Your design team needs to understand how you view success so they can help you work toward that end-goal.

What is your budget?

Sometimes the budget question feels uncomfortable for clients – and it shouldn’t. A good designer will ask you this not to try and max out what you can pay them, but to realistically set goals and offer a quote that meets your needs (both for design and finances).

To reduce the feeling of stress surrounding your budget – be candid with the designer you’re speaking with. Whether you’re looking to spend $2,000 or $50,000, they’ll be able to offer you something within that range. And if they can’t, it’s better that you know ahead of time. To get a better understanding of how they work, try offering two separate price points.

Say, “On the low end of the spectrum, I’d like to pay $3,000 for this project. On the high end, I’d like to be somewhere around $5,000. What kind of work can we do together at both of those price points?” This will help to show both you and the designer what your budget will afford, and what you can expect moving forward.

Be open.

If you feel that your designer is an excellent fit – congratulations! It’s a wonderful feeling to find someone you’re excited to work with. If you don’t feel like they’ve asked you these questions, just remember to be open with them. The more you communicate, the more the conversation will be driven toward an end-result you’ll both be thrilled with.