One thing to note is the importance of using native objects in your FileMaker design -- both for speed of rendering when switching from layout to layout and for smaller file size overhead. While hiring a graphic designer may be what you need, you might consider instead getting something like Matt Petrowsky's Theme Studio -- much less expensive than paying a designer with the benefit that you have scads of different designs and themes for use and reuse in your development. These designs are beautiful -- everything blends and all the objects are native to FileMaker. There are also tools that allow you to combine graphics, change colors, use gradients, etc. Here is a link:
You probably already know this -- a stunning graphical user interface needs to function and be tied to good programming (naming conventions, documented scripts, optimized calculations, reusable modules, a fluid navigation/user experience, and all those good practices). There are great references and online classes for learning better FileMaker design. Guess I'm recommending that you consider becoming your own designer because it will make you an even better developer!
Tom, you can pitch your requirements on pimtim.com, showing screenshots of your current solution, screenshots of other examples or websites that illustrate your taste and preferences, set a price for the project and let a score of designers improve your interface in a 3 week iterative process.
Make the price realistic, not the bare minimum or you will end up with a trickle of amateur designs. At a proper price, you get a large crowd of professionals work for you. Winner-takes-all, and you get all copyrights assigned to you.
It is unlikely that the designer will have FMP experience, but at this stage that is irrelevant. From the winning design, you use a tool like Matt's Theme Studio to build this into a FMP solution as pixel-perfect as you can. But when selecting the winner, make sure that you can build this in FMP. A good quality pitch (setting your standards and requirements) yields better designs. I have seen FM-projects on PimTim that really made quantum leaps for the product of the pitching company.
I am looking to improve the look of my FM solution. I was wondering if anyone has worked with a graphic designer that they would recommend?
Any thoughts are appreciated
There are two reasons why you don't want "just any graphic designer", but one that has deep experience not just with software interfaces and database, but preferably with FileMaker in particular.
One reason is that, as Irene has said, what's optimal (from a performance perspective etc) in other environments is not always optimal in the context of FileMaker - especially for networked solutions. Another is that the way the user thinks and is supported by the interface is Principle Number One, so FileMaker interface design is more about some highly specific concepts and ergonomics than design for many other purposes - and it's certainly about much more than just 'eye candy'.
For that reason, what I'd suggest you do is look for FileMaker professionals whose work has visual and ergonomic design that has the kind of qualities you're in need of. Once you start looking, you're likely to quickly identify some stand outs - and the chances are high that you'll find that the people in question have a design background, while also having an intimate grasp of the "FileMaker gestalt". You really need the combination of both IMO.
R J Cologon, Ph.D.
FileMaker Certified Developer
Author, FileMaker Pro 10 Bible
NightWing Enterprises, Melbourne, Australia
As one expects, Ray offers some strong advice. While certainly "eye candy" is better than not with regards to selling a solution, it doesn't alwats carry the day. There is a man who does exclusively what you are looking for, Albert Harum-Alvarez - SmallCo.net.
He has real credentials in design logic, is a FileMaker expert and a really wonderful guy. I'm not certain if he is still doing his classes and consulting exclusively as I remember him announcing the end of the Master Class last year while he ran for congress.
Old timers will remember his presence on this forum. I took one of his classes several years ago. While I'm still tone deaf when it comes to art, my clients have benifited from what he taught me.
Thank you all for sharing your ideas. I have seen Matt's theme studio and it is great but not really what I am looking for (you know the expression I will know when I see it...)
I have done extensive work on my current design and it looks pretty good to me. IMO a professional designer has a skill set that can bring things to a new level. I agree with the above comments that a Filemaker designer is the preferred route. I have watch some of SmallCo.net 'smack down' videos in the past and I appreciate the suggest to contact them.
My original questions is still unanswered though... "I was wondering if anyone has worked with a graphic designer that they would recommend?"
Thanks again to all!