Work with external designers

The University works with a framework of approved design agencies which can support you with all of your design requirements. Here's a helpful guide to steer you through the process of working with our designers.

Appointing a design agency

The University, through a robust tender exercise, has appointed four agencies who are authorised to provide design services.

Contact details for the agencies on the framework.

Work is divided into two categories.

  • Lot 1: simple straightforward graphic design for digital and print output (including digital banner ads, animated gifs, flyers, brochures, infographics).
  • Lot 2: complex brand and design services across a range of media, requiring consultative input, creative concept and brand development, additional services such as copywriting, microsite development, art direction and photography.

Most University projects should come within the remit of lot 1.

How to select your designer

  • Direct award to the No.1 ranked supplier (Creative Triangle for Lot 1 and The Gate for Lot 2) If the first ranked supplier is unable to meet the requirement in a satisfactory manner, the second ranked supplier (Cactus for Lot 1 and d8 for Lot 2) may be approached to provide a quotation. 
  • Mini competition between suppliers (mini competition should take place within each lot – ie between the two lot 1 agencies or between the two lot 2 agencies, and not across the lots)
  • Supplier performance

If your project is estimated to cost over £10,000 best value will be achieved by running a mini competition. For this you would provide each supplier with a specification, and invite them to provide pricing for the work

If your project is estimated to cost over £25,000 you must run a mini competition. For this you would provide each supplier with a specification, and invite them to provide pricing for the work. You must contact the Procurement Office for support in running this competition.

Once you appoint a designer

Put in writing your acceptance of the favoured company’s design and confirm the price you are anticipating, repeating precisely what you expect to receive for this. The order must also clearly state that the services are bought under the University's Design Services Framework conditions. This means there should be no confusion in the future over what exactly is being purchased and when it is due. Commitment to purchase will be effected only through the issue and receipt of a University purchase order.

It is critical that a purchase order is raised when agreeing work with designers; this will ensure there are no delays in your work progressing and it is compliant with University of Glasgow policy. Similarly, it is critical that you receive/GRN the purchase order when the service is complete. Not doing so will result in delayed payments.

Should the scope or price change as the work progresses, make careful note of this and confirm with the agency your acceptance via email. Accounts payable within the University will then seek approval to pay the invoice given that it differs from the original PO. Please note: the preference of the University of Glasgow is to receive invoices in PDF format and sent to the Finance Accounts Payable department at:

Please note that VAT is payable on design services rendered to the University.

Prices are based on three sets of client amends. If the job expands greatly beyond this then the agency will inform the client at the earliest stage of impact on budget and provide a revised quote for additional work.

Briefing a design agency

When you approach an agency it is important that you have already given a lot of thought to your requirements. It might be useful to gather together some examples that target your audience and consider what features they may have in common, why they may have taken the approach they have and whether you would want to fit in with this format or do something completely different.

Remember to consider your budget.

And make sure that the text and images you give to the design agency have been fully approved and signed off at a senior level.

The design brief is important. This is a short document written by the person commissioning the design and provided to the agency or agencies approached in the first instance. It sets out details about the project which will enable the design agency to provide initial costings and ideas – all based on the information you supply.

Advantages of using a brief

  • It focuses your own requirements
  • If you have approached more than one agency then they will all be working from the same information
  • It means that there is less possibility of confusion and mixed messages
  • Any information you can give at this stage means that the designer will not go down a route you have already ruled out.
  • On the brief you should record information such as the schedule (start date and deadline) and your contact details, project description including the type of collateral required (eg digital banner ad, printed brochure, campaign creative), explanation of your objectives and the audience and market you wish to reach
  • Include any decisions already taken – for example, if you have already decided on a size or format, availability of photography etc.

Download a design brief template.

The University’s brand guidelines

All material originating from the University must adhere to our brand guidelines. This should be referenced in the brief. All agencies on the design roster are familiar with the University brand.


If your project requires print, there are three approved ways to buy print.

  • The University's Print Unit provides digital printing services to all University departments, its wider partners, staff, students and external customers.
  • The University works with a framework of approved external printers who can deliver both small and large-scale print jobs.
  • The University allows the designers on the design framework to offer print management as part of their design service. Remember that printing costs will be in addition to design costs and will incur VAT.