Design Feedback

How to give feedback to designers the right way


blog

Prepare for the feedback session

Giving feedback can be a difficult task, especially when it comes to designers. You need to be constructive and provide an explicit, helpful critique. Before you even give feedback, it's essential to properly prepare for the feedback session. Taking the time to plan your input will help ensure it is effective and considerate. By accepting these preparatory steps, you'll be able to provide the best feedback and get the best results.

Set an agenda

Start by setting an agenda for the feedback session. This will help you stay on track and address specific issues. It's also important to be clear about what you expect from the designer during the session. For example, do you want them to provide a detailed explanation of their design choices or share their thoughts?

By doing this, you will help the designer understand your critiques and make necessary changes. Additionally, it can help build trust between you and the designer.

The agenda should include information on what kind of feedback will be given and when it is appropriate to provide each type of comment. It should also cover any rules that must be followed during the session. A clear outline makes it easier for everyone involved to stay focused and progress quickly.

Before delving into the design, review any guidelines or goals set for the project. This will help ensure everyone focuses on what needs to be accomplished and prevent unnecessary conversations that could derail the process.

Choose the right medium

When selecting the suitable medium to provide feedback to designers, there are several factors to consider, such as the designer's needs and availability, the project timeline, and the type of feedback provided. Generally, meeting in person is always preferred since it allows for a more natural conversation flow and straightforward clarification of points. However, virtual video conferencing can be just as effective with today's distributed workforces and tight timelines.

When providing feedback virtually via video conferencing or screen sharing tools, ensure that you have an adequate internet connection and any material needed readily available in advance. Additionally, be prepared with specific points of discussion that align with objectives to ensure that the most productive time is used effectively.

Some text-based methods like email and chat are often used for submitting detailed comments on projects but may be less helpful for conversations about design direction or deeper problem-solving.

Provide actionable feedback

Providing actionable feedback to a designer is an essential element of the design process. It's important to provide constructive, transparent, and personal feedback. Instead of simply stating that something looks "not right," it's best to explain why it doesn't look right and what should be done to improve it. Doing this ensures that the designer knows what you want, and they're able to create a design that meets your expectations. Let's dive into the details of how to provide actionable feedback.

Focus on the outcome

When providing feedback to designers, it is essential to focus on the desired outcome instead of on the means. This means you should avoid criticizing design decisions or the technical tools used. Instead, it's better to communicate what kind of outcome you would like to achieve and how they can use their design skills and expertise to make it happen.

At the same time, carefully consider what areas you are providing feedback in and how they affect the design output. Explore how other elements such as visuals, materiality, layout, or typography could be explored — all of which can significantly impact a design's success.

It's also important to remember that designers are creatives with a particular aesthetic sensibility, so try not to influence them in ways that will limit their creativity or creativity too drastically. Instead, explain what kind of changes you would like without being too prescriptive about how they should go about making them. This will help generate more positive dialogue when giving constructive feedback.

Be specific

Giving specific feedback instead of general statements is key to helping a designer better understand what you're looking for. Going from "I don't like it" to "I don't feel that this slightly off yellow really conveys the energy I want for this brand" can be the difference between a productive and unproductive interaction.

For example, rather than simply saying, "the colors are wrong," you could specify which colors need to be adjusted or offer a color palette they can draw inspiration from. Or, rather than telling them that the layout looks off, use words such as 'sparse' or 'jumbled.' Identify problems and provide suggestions to help deliver specific and actionable feedback.

Avoid criticism, sarcasm & judgment

When providing feedback to a designer, it is vital to approach the conversation positive and focus on solutions instead of criticism. Constructive criticism and "tough love" comments can often derail a design discussion and hurt the team dynamic. When providing feedback, strive to focus on high-level ideas that move the project toward achieving its goals and objectives while avoiding personal attacks or criticism. Provide specific and actionable points for the designer to clearly understand which areas need improvement. Avoid unconstructive comments like "this isn't working" without explaining why not or any guidance about how it can be improved. When giving critical feedback, be sure not to use sarcasm or judgment. This will only make the designer feel defensive and may force them to refuse your input altogether.

It is also beneficial to include positive feedback whenever possible to keep the mood lighthearted and maintain the flow of good vibes between team members. A good practice is rephrasing suggestions into opportunities by emphasizing what can be gained through making changes versus only focusing on drawbacks that need improvement. This helps ensure that when presenting ideas, they are seen positively while ensuring everyone understands what needs changing or refining before proceeding with further development stages.

Be patient

Although it can be difficult, be patient while giving feedback. This means that you should explain your observations and critiques clearly. Be sure to avoid making assumptions or speaking in generalities. Wait for the designer to respond before continuing with your analysis. You can move on to the next point if they don't have any comments. Be aware of your tone. It should reflect how you are feeling as you provide feedback. If you are irritated or angry, your opinions may come across negatively. Try to keep your voice level and firm without being aggressive or condescending.

Trust in your creativity as well

When critiquing designs, it is essential to remember that creativity is crucial to a good design. Feel free to give feedback that challenges the original concept or idea. This will help the designer further develop their vision and make the design more unique and innovative with the help of your input.

Be honest & transparent

You should critique the design as it is without sugarcoating your observations or opinions. Otherwise, the designer will be unable to improve their work, and the feedback session will save time. When giving feedback, you should also be transparent. This means you should let the designer know your expectations for the session and why. This way, they'll be able to better understand your critiques and modify their approach accordingly. Additionally, it can help build trust between you and the designer.

Offer constructive criticism

Giving constructive criticism is an integral part of communicating with designers. It is crucial to be honest and provide feedback that is helpful to the designer. Constructive criticism enables designers to improve and create better designs. In this article, we will discuss how to give feedback to designers in a way that benefits both parties.

Mention the positives

Giving constructive criticism is essential to help someone improve their performance, but it can take time to do it correctly. Letting a designer know that their work falls below your expectations can be uncomfortable, so here are some tips for delivering feedback productively and positively.

First, mention the positives. Even if you don't like the outcome of the design, it's important to point out something that you did like about the project. This helps to keep the conversation open and friendly and encourages respect between both parties. You could comment on how the color palette works well with an existing logo or highlight a clever composition - this will show that you have put some thought into your feedback and are not just criticizing for criticism's sake.

Be sure to frame your criticisms as suggestions as opposed to demands; while it is essential to provide tips on what not to do, it's equally important to tell them what they can do for them to improve upon their work. This requires a shift in thinking from critiquing what was done wrong (or simply pointing out flaws) towards suggesting ways to take further action towards improvement. Finally, be sure you offer resources such as tutorials or sample design pieces so they have somewhere they can continue learning while improving their work.

Suggest alternatives

Once you have identified an area that could be improved upon, the best way to give feedback to designers is to provide suggestions for alternative solutions. It is essential to recognize that the designer has invested time and energy into developing their original solution and avoid simply pointing out what's wrong with it. Not only can this method reduce friction, but it can also help lead to new ideas or even better solutions.

Before suggesting alternatives, ensure you understand the problem and any technical or business constraints. Think through potential ways of addressing each issue before proposing anything — due diligence upfront will help save everyone time in the long run.

Every suggestion should include your rationale behind it. Provide detailed explanations as to why your suggestion is an upgrade and how it can better harness existing assets or alleviate existing issues. Ultimately, try to frame your suggestions not as criticisms but as opportunities for improvement — for example, highlighting areas of opportunity for optimization instead of focusing on particular flaws or shortcomings.

Ask questions for clarification

When offering constructive criticism to a designer, it is essential to ask questions to understand the full scope of their work. This helps ensure that you are both on the same page and effectively communicating your thoughts. It is also a good idea to ensure that you completely understand the project and its goals.

When seeking clarification from designers, try rephrasing what was said or asking them questions such as: -What did you mean by this statement/description? -Can you explain further what you're referring to/describing here? -What are the key elements we should focus on here? -How did you come to this conclusion? -What other options have been considered in this case? -Could we investigate alternative solutions for this issue?

This way, the designer will better understand where your concerns lie and how they could offer suggestions and further insight into their approach. Moreover, it can open up interesting conversations about other aspects of the project that may be explored. Asking for clarification can also help build trust between both parties, leading to more productive collaborations.

Provide additional resources

Professional designers are very familiar with user feedback but often require context to fully understand the input. A good practice when giving designer critiques is to suggest alternative resources and materials bolster points made in feedback. This can be further research, information graphics, photographs, or even discussion forums or blogs related to the design project that could be used as reference points for the designer.

By suggesting additional materials, you can provide a deeper understanding of your overall point in a way that allows designers to explore options not necessarily apparent at first glance. Additionally, free resources such as shared files on Google Drive can provide details about the project, such as frameworks and components necessary for creating a compelling design layout by enforcing consistent best practices.

It's important to note that different resources may have varying levels of efficacy depending upon the needs of a specific designer and should be evaluated accordingly before use. For example, visual aids such as screenshots or videos can prove beneficial if you provide general commentary based on customer requirements. On the other hand, if technical specs are needed, then more advanced resources, such as API examples, may be necessary.

Wrapping up

Each feedback session should end with an open dialogue in which the designer is asked to explain their design decisions. This provides communication and clarity and allows the designer to discuss their work in detail. It's important to ask questions that encourage thoughtful dialogue and ensure that the designer has fully absorbed your comments and suggestions.

Once you've discussed the design process with the designer, re-iterate any key points that were addressed to ensure you both have a clear understanding of how you would like the project to move forward. Be sure to end positively, expressing gratitude for your designer's hard work and effort. By asking questions designed to check for understanding, you can ensure that your feedback is accurately conveyed and understood by both parties involved.

Conclusion

Feedback is essential for the effective communication of design feedback. There are several different methods by which you can provide feedback, and it's necessary to choose the most appropriate method based on the situation and your relationship with the designer. When providing feedback, it's essential to be clear and concise to ensure that your comments are understood. It's also helpful to ask questions that check for understanding to avoid misunderstanding or false assumptions about what was said. Using these tips, you can ensure that your feedback is effectively communicated and received as valuable input by the designer.