Design Feedback

The found art of design feedback - A comprehensive guide


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Have you ever wondered how you can create mindblowing designs? Well, if you are a descendant of Hephaestus, The Greek god of design, art & creativity, you are in luck. For the rest of you mortals, you just need design feedback!

A design critique will improve your work, whether you are a beginner or an experienced designer. This guide will teach you how to master this skill and create breathtaking designs every time.

We realized this topic needed attention, so we decided to write about it in as much detail as possible. This is a long article, so grab a coffee, put your thinking caps on, and start learning about design feedback!

What is design feedback?

Design feedback, also known as a "design critique" or a "design review," is analyzing and providing suggestions for improving design work. A high-quality critique can help designers better understand end-user satisfaction and, in the process, helps hone their skills as a craftsman.

These are 2 main types of design feedback.

Visual design feedback - This helps designers analyze and improve the outlook of their design. Critiques focus on the layout, contrast, colors, shapes, fonts, sizes, and every other factor related to appearance regarding visual feedback. This applies to nearly all types of designs and will be what we will mainly focus on today.

Functional design feedback - Lets you take detailed notes while end users interact with your product or service. This will allow you better understand user behavior and preferences (and potential issues). This type of feedback leans more towards designs driven by function, such as testing the UI/UX of a website or app.

Why is design feedback important?

Design feedback is essential for two primary reasons. First, it allows designers to understand their own work and make any necessary changes. Second, it helps ensure that the design meets the needs of the user audience. You may create something no one enjoys or wants to use without proper feedback.

Feedback should be collected as early as possible and as often as possible. Here's a list of potential benefits of design feedback.

  • Brainstorming at the idea stage help bring laser focus and a better direction for your initial sketches and design ideas.
  • It helps you and your stakeholders better understand the design concept - why it was created and any future plans.
  • Have a new pair of eyes to look at your design's strengths and flaws.
  • Allows for A/B testing on your designs. This is a quick and easy way to validate future directions for your design.
  • Getting others involved with your design builds trust and a clear line of communication. This will be very beneficial as this becomes the backbone of a supportive environment.
  • For future design projects for the same target market, it builds a solid foundation to produce better-planned, more user-centered designs.
  • An excellent technique for designers to quickly learn, absorb information, and improve skills at a rapid pace.

Who needs design feedback?

Anyone who wants to create a successful design project needs feedback. From minor tweaks to more significant revisions, feedback is essential for creating something that meets the needs of both the client and the designer. Different types of designers need different types of feedback.

Here is a list of some common types of designers and the type of feedback they need:

  • UI/UX Designer: UI/UX feedback usually revolves around a design's layout, colors, typography, and ease of use. Both visual and functional feedback is essential to design a successful website or mobile app.
  • Graphic Designer: Graphic designers work with visual elements such as logos, posters, packaging designs, illustrations - you name it! Visual feedback is what they mainly focus on.
  • Fashion Designers: Fashion designers tend to be very critical of their own work and often require detailed critiques in their own work as well. They might want input on composition, proportions, materials selection, etc.
  • Interior/Architectural Designer: Interior & architectural designers provide creative solutions for spaces inside or outside buildings. They need feedback both visual and functional feedback.
  • Marketers & Brands: Marketing and branding professionals often need feedback on design work to make sure it aligns with the company's goals. They will want new ideas as well as improve on existing ones.
  • Content creators: With the massive spike in socials, influencers have dominated the internet. Their creatives must look great and engage their audiences.
  • Creative Directors or CXOs: Frequently, a creative director or CXO will have specific ideas they want to see reflected in the design. Feedback helps validate them quickly.
  • Any other type of designer!

What are the challenges of getting design feedback?

To solve any problem, we first need to identify the issues, which is the same as the design feedback process.

We have broken down the feedback cycle into 4 main areas:

  1. Problems due to lack of preparation - Before starting the process, designers must be clear about what they want feedback on. This way, they can avoid getting feedback that is not relevant or helpful.

  2. Problems getting feedback - Identifying your target market, finding the right people, and contacting them can be challenging. Even if you find them, many problems still arise when collecting feedback from them.

  3. Problems with the received feedback - Even when you do get feedback, it might not be helpful. It could be too vague or too specific. It might also conflict with other feedback you've received.

  4. Problems getting repeat feedback - Once you've made changes based on design feedback, you will likely need more feedback to see if the changes were effective. Getting continuous repeat feedback from the same feedback providers can be challenging.

To learn more about this, check out our in-depth article on the challenges of getting design feedback.

What are the 5 different audiences for collecting design feedback?

Self-evaluation of your own design

At every stage of your design process, it's essential to be objective and critique your work. Put on the shoes of your end user and look at your design from a different perspective. Break down your design into chunks/areas that you can critique yourself. Jot this down on your tool of choice; we prefer a pen and paper. Take some time to evaluate how well you executed the design and whether you will be satisfied in an end user's shoes.

Internal feedback from your team or other known stakeholders

If you work within a team, or an inner circle of designers, getting feedback from them should be your first choice. This will be a quick and easy method to get an excellent first impression and identify significant issues with your designs. This results in a more collaborative environment among team members and superior design transparency over time. Note that initially, people you know may not open up entirely because they might not want to hurt your feelings. This depends on your environment and your kind of person, but it will be improved with continuous feedback cycles.

Feedback from the public and people unfamiliar with your work

Public feedback is a great way to get unbiased input on your designs. This can be a gold mine of unconventional feedback for your work. There are several different methods you can use to get feedback from the public. You can post your creation on design critique communities, use anonymous surveys or even showcase your work at design events. Ensure you clearly communicate your design process and strategic goals to best use this process. This is still a vital component of the feedback process.

Professional feedback from industry experts

Getting feedback from industry experts can be a valuable, quick, but expensive way to improve your skills and knowledge. Professionals who provide feedback are usually skilled in their expertise and have the experience and knowledge to provide beneficial and impactful feedback. When receiving professional feedback, it is crucial to take it seriously and use it to improve your craft.

Client feedback

If you are working for a client, it's best if your design comes from understanding the needs and wants of the client. By paying attention and absorbing what your client has to say, you can create a product they will be satisfied with. Try to get their feedback at every iteration of your design to keep last-minute changes and dissatisfaction to a minimum. Your client might not be an expert in strategy, so this process will heavily rely on finding a balance between their feedback and what you think is best for the design. Clients who are more hands-on and like to get involved with the process and the details work better with this type of involvement.

If you want to learn more, read our detailed step-by-step article on how to get design feedback from your clients.

Now that you better understand design feedback, it is time to get down to business! Our next step is to discuss the procedures for conducting a design critique.

What are the 5 main steps of conducting a design critique?

An organized feedback collection process helps us stay on top of conducting a successful design review. Gathering feedback is a process, not an event. It's essential to have a collection process that helps us gather feedback as efficiently and effectively as possible.

  1. Preparation
  2. Finding & Motivation
  3. Communication & Gathering Feedback
  4. Recording & Receiving Feedback
  5. Summarizing feedback

Read here for some additional information on conducting a design critique.

Preparing for design feedback

Design feedback can be challenging, but we must be prepared for it. This involves understanding the purpose of the design, who it's for, and collecting other critical information before contacting any feedback providers. Talk to as many stakeholders as possible and gather as much information about your design.

Understanding the "why" of your design

With any design project, the first step is to try to understand it. Take a minute to think about the "why" of your design. What is your design trying to accomplish? What problem are you solving, if there is one? Why does this solution work better than others? The more we understand our design goals, the better equipped we are to build something that fulfills its purpose. Make sure you research the "why," and once you feel confident, you can move on to the next step, the "who"?

Who is this design for?

When we design, it's essential to think about who will use it. Who are you creating this for? Are they the CEO of a company, the mailman, or aliens from out of space? Once you know who your design is for, the next step is creating a feedback user persona. Your feedback persona is a set of people to whom you will showcase your design. They may have different needs, wants, and expectations than you or your team. Create separate groups, and this will be your target market. Write down different ways you can find them, talk to them, and motivate them to continuously give you feedback on every stage of your design. By now, you should have a solid idea of the purpose of your work and who it's for.

Organize your information

Now that you have all of this information handy, it's time to get all the information organized. Here's a list of things you should remember when requesting feedback.

  • Break your design into pages or sections. This will help avoid confusion and ensure that the feedback you receive is relevant and helpful
  • Create multiple variations of the same design to run A/B tests, if applicable.
  • Ask the right questions. Break down the most important criteria of your designs. Model your questions around them so that the feedback you receive will be clear and applicable.

Breakdown your core information into a short, straightforward shareable booklet Once you are confident in your prep, it is essential to create a booklet that includes aids such as images, questions, and any other important information for the feedback provider. Take into account the different feedback user personas when designing your booklet. Keep it concise, organized, and easy to access for everyone involved!

Bonus tip - Create a section for the rules of providing feedback. Keep the rules casual to encourage the feedback provider's creativity. This helps critiques stay on course throughout their feedback session.

To learn more, read our detailed article on how to prepare to collect design feedback.

How to find people to give you design feedback?

Having feedback from multiple sources will help ensure that the final product meets everyone's expectations. There are a few different ways to find people who can give you a design critique. You can reach out to friends, family members, or professional contacts and ask if they can provide feedback on your designs. You could also use online platforms like Behance or Dribbble for critiquing other designers' work. Or you could create a poll or survey and ask your followers whether they would be willing to critique your designs. If you are planning to give your feedback providers any sort of compensation for their time and ideas, make sure this is clearly communicated to them. Whichever route you choose, make sure that you gather as much unbiased feedback as possible. All this data will be used to improve the design of your product!

To learn more about different tactics in detail, check out our in-depth article here

How to motivate people to give you high-quality design feedback?

Feedback providers should be motivated by wanting to provide constructive criticism that can improve your design work. Find out what makes them happy or satisfied with their work and use that to drive their feedback. Here are some general tips to keep everyone motivated throughout the design process.

  • Get them involved in the process from the beginning. Involve them early in the drafting and development stages, so they feel invested in the project and want to help as much as possible. This way, they will be more willing and excited to offer constructive criticisms later.
  • Be transparent about your goals for receiving feedback. Let them know why you appreciate their insights, and explain any changes that will be made based on what they tell you. This way, they have a vested interest in providing valid criticism - which is usually difficult for others because of ego or fear of being wrong.
  • Use visuals when communicating with individuals who don't typically read complex instructions or documents. Images make concepts more accessible for people to understand without having to read everything twice. Use images related to topics discussed during meetings, so everyone understands where things stand at any given time.
  • Finally, be understanding and solicit feedback in a way that doesn't make the individual feel rushed. Allow them to think about what they said before asking for a further explanation. This way, you'll receive better design feedback overall.

How to increase the quality of received feedback & number of feedback providers When it comes to design feedback, the more data you collect, the better your design will be. It will be challenging to find critiques, so you can try a few things to expand your reach. First, ensure it is easy for people who want to provide feedback to get in touch with you. After all, if they can't get in touch with you, all your efforts will be in vain. Try the following if they align well with your industry and goals.

  • Use social media platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn to post about design projects you are working on and ask for feedback.
  • Attend design events and meetups in your area, or host a meetup where people can provide design feedback.
  • Speak with friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances about any design feedback they may have. You never know who might have something valuable to say!

Incentivizing Participants with Rewards or Coupons

Who doesn't love a good reward? You can offer gift cards, coupons, or other rewards for those who participate in your design feedback process. This is an excellent way to increase the number of people willing to help you.

Get industry leaders involved and focus on expansion through word of mouth

Engaging industry leaders can be a great way to get feedback and improve your design. Showcase their involvement on your socials, do a one-on-one live-streamed interview or ask them for a shoutout. Ensure you are broadcasting the message that you are looking for feedback providers.

Incorporating Gamification Methodology

Creating an internal competition between feedback providers is a surefire way to get high-quality feedback. Make sure that the winner is not disappointed after all the hard work!

Summarize and communicate your feedback requirements

When communicating feedback requirements to your providers, it is essential to be clear and concise. This will help ensure that the feedback provider has a clear understanding of the designer's requirements. Use the tips from the previous step to build a clear line of communication. This will help ensure that all feedback is captured and organized meaningfully. Finally, make sure to provide specific dates or deadlines for the collection of data. This will help reduce any delays or disruptions in the design review process.

How to get design feedback?

To get the best possible data, it's important to collect feedback frequently. It's also essential to select the most suitable feedback collection method from the right audience to allow for honest, unbiased, and transparent feedback. Here are some popular tools and techniques for collecting design feedback.

  • Friends & Family
  • Talk to your team
  • Design critique sessions (Focus groups)
  • Surveys and top survey tools
  • Post your work on public forums & online communities
  • Hire experts
  • Using a personal following (Email list, blogging, social media)
  • 1-on-1 interviews
  • Small group critique
  • Using Spokk, the design critique platform

To read about each method's advantages, disadvantages and tips, check out our detailed article here.

How to receive design feedback

Feedback is data, and understanding and retrieving it correctly is vital. Even if you get a thousand pieces of feedback, it will not matter unless you know how to receive it correctly.

Here are a few main tips on how to receive and process design feedback effectively:

  • Get organized - Make a list of all the things you want feedback on, and create separate folders for each item. This will help you stay focused during the critique session and make it easier to find what you're looking for later.
  • Ask questions to clarify feedback - When you're ready to start receiving feedback, clarify any points you don't understand. This will help ensure that the feedback is clear and concise.
  • Take notes - This is essential, especially if you're being critiqued by multiple people at the same time. Be sure to write down everything that's being said, so you can go back and review it later.
  • Don't get defensive - It's important to remember that feedback is just data - it doesn't necessarily reflect on you as a person or designer. If someone criticizes your work, try to see it as an opportunity to learn and improve rather than a personal attack.
  • Encourage constructive criticism - When someone offers negative criticism, try not to take it personally. Instead, thank them for their input and ask them why they feel that way about the specific aspect of your design. This will help foster discussion instead of hostility towards potential critics from within critique groups.

Here are the complete 15 tips for receiving design feedback effectively.

How to analyze your received design feedback?

It can be hard to take in all the feedback you've been getting from your design work. After all, it's a lot of information to process! But don't worry - there are some simple steps you can take to help make sense of it all.

  1. Organize all the feedback in one place that's comfortable for you. This way, everything is easy to find when needed, and you will stay aware of a sea of inputs.
  2. Group the feedback into 4 main categories (or add any if it works better for you). Take into account the feasibility of each piece of feedback.
    • Ready for implementation
    • Shortlisted for the future
    • Needs further discussion (To clarify any doubts or to improve on the original idea)
    • Rejected
  3. Look for patterns and repetitive points and usability; mark them as a high priority
  4. Read through all of the feedback once again. This extra step will allow for second thoughts when grouping the feedback.
  5. For the discussion section, communicate with the original feedback provider, discuss and come to a point where you can move that specific point into a different group, such as "Ready for implementation" or "Rejected."
  6. Trust your gut when making your design choices because, in the end, you will be responsible for your output!

Read our detailed article on everything you need to know about analyzing your received design feedback.

Applying feedback, Prototyping, Iteration & Repeat

Once you know what feedback to implement through the group from the step above, it's time to implement them and create a new design cycle. Go back to step 1, do the necessary preparations and repeat the steps until you are satisfied with your final design.

If you want to give people credit where credit is due, you can release a small broadcast message with the new design iteration. Mention the newly implemented features compared to the previous cycle, and highlight who gave them the initial idea. By getting feedback early on in the process and in incremental steps, you can exponentially improve the quality of your designs.

Conclusion

By learning the art of feedback, you'll be able to create designs that will not only look better but also give your end user immense satisfaction. Make design feedback your daily mantra for every creative, and we promise that this will expose you to fresh viewpoints and make you a better designer.