30 Sep How to give great design feedback
Effective feedback on design work is crucial for a smooth work flow and for creating a product that aligns with your goal.
Your vision could be clear and the designer could be brilliant, but if you aren’t able to communicate effectively and give constructive feedback, the process of working together will be frustrating and time consuming. You might also be charged an extra fee when feedback causes too many unnecessary revisions.
Here are some tips on how to give effective feedback to avoid miscommunication and wasting time:
1. Be clear and specific
Be clear about what you don’t like, but more importantly be clear about why you don’t like it. If you simply say, “I don’t like this,” it won’t help the designer create something you do like. On this note, once you have said that you do not like something, do not backtrack – this will only lead to confusion and frustration on all sides.
It may be useful to brush up on some basic design language in order to communicate better. While design may be the domain of the designer, they can’t create something you like if you do not communicate with them effectively.
2. Offer solutions or examples
Sometimes it may be difficult to put into words why you don’t like something, but maybe you have an idea of what you would prefer instead. Perhaps there is a design element elsewhere in the project that you do like that could be built on. Alternatively, if you’ve seen something online that has inspired you, send it the designer’s way as a reference.
If you truly have no idea what you want, communicate more about your goals and intentions with the project. It can also be useful to point out what you do like – this can guide the designer in adding more of that element to the project.
3. Use software that makes it easy to give feedback
While some people prefer the old way of printing out a design and making comments with pen, this is not always ideal for a designer – we are not teachers or pharmacists, and sometimes handwritten instructions can be very difficult to decipher. It also doesn’t allow the designer to respond directly to your feedback in one place.
There are many options when it comes to apps and software that make it easy for you to give feedback on designs. One such option is the free version of Adobe Acrobat that allows you to comment on specific parts of a document, draw and add sticky notes for clarity around what exactly you are referring to.
4. Consolidate all feedback and send it at once
Keep your feedback to one document. For example, if there are five people on your team that need to review and give feedback on a design, gather all this feedback, consolidate it and send it back in one go. Or have each person add their comments to the PDF before sending it on to the next person in line for feedback. This also ensures that no comments are repeated.
There is nothing more frustrating than receiving feedback from multiple people at different times who may also have differing opinions. In this scenario, whose feedback should the designer follow? This also wastes the designers time as they may have already made changes, only to be told later, by someone else, that they want different changes. This can lead to miscommunication and tension over what the final result should be.
5. Pick a project lead
Even better than consolidating the feedback of various people, is to have one person on your team champion the project. This prevents a project from becoming a multi-coloured quilt of 10 different opinions, and it avoids the delays that back-and-forths among your team can cause.
6. Don’t get personal.
Personal attacks at the designer won’t allow them to understand your goals any better, and might risk souring the entire project. Keep it design-focused and professional. Try to also remember that everyone can make a mistake sometimes; after all, “pobody’s nerfect”.
If you do feel that the person is not living up to your needs, politely ask to work with somebody else from their team.
8. Always be honest
Sometimes projects don’t go as smoothly as they should or the designer may have completely missed the mark and misunderstood what you are going. In this case you need to be honest.
You may find it difficult to deliver feedback and worry you are hurting the designer’s feelings; however, feedback of any kind is part of the process and something the designer as a professional will be used to. In this case, more is more! Give as much feedback as you can; it will only strengthen the designer’s understanding of your vision.
In any line of work, giving feedback and critiquing work can be difficult. However, it is important to keep an open line of communication and be honest if you want to end up with a product that you are happy with.