How to give feedback to designers to facilitate awesome work

 In Design

Giving good feedback is integral to good design.

And giving good, quality feedback that spurs an amazing work product can be tricky, especially if you don’t have a background in design. Sometimes clients with the best of intentions just don’t know where to begin.

The good news is the design disconnect can be avoided with a few simple steps that will ensure you’re prepared to give awesome feedback on your next design project – read on!

REMEMBER THE GOAL.

Each project we take on begins with a kickoff meeting with the client to establish the current perception, problems of existing creative, new and current functionality, and desired new brand or project direction. This conversation forms the creative brief, which sets the tone and informs design decisions for the entire project.

This process grounds the design project with the end-goal in mind. The design should be evaluated as to how well the form meets function and whether the end product can help you reach the goal you set out to achieve. The important thing is whether or not the design resonates with the target audience and achieves the goal of the campaign.

“The right question is not, “Do I like it?” but “Does this meet our goals?” If it’s blue, don’t ask yourself whether you like blue. Ask yourself if blue is going to help you sell sprockets. Better yet: ask your design team. You just wrote your first feedback question.”

— Mike Monteiro of Mule Design

FOCUS ON WHY.

Say what your concerns are and offer reasons why.  If there is something in a design that doesn’t make sense to you, ask why the designer laid it out that way. They will be able to explain the reasoning behind each design element. If your designer doesn’t have an explanation, congratulations! You just gave important constructive feedback.

DISTILL YOUR FEEDBACK.

It’s likely that different members of your team will have different opinions on the first round of designs you see. That’s expected! Rather than sending your designer a detailed list of everyone’s individual feedback, send synthesized feedback from your team. This will save everyone time and help get to your final design much faster.

Along that same vein, it’s also essential that there be one main point of contact between the client and the design team. The best feedback doesn’t often come in the form of an email chain with feedback from 20 different people. Make sure there is one designated person who will communicate with the designer and prevent the project from stalling.

RESPECT YOUR DESIGNER’S EXPERTISE.

It can be tempting for clients to be the problem maker instead of the problem solver. Sometimes this happens by way of a client-designed mock-up that the designer is asked to replicate. Sometimes micromanagement is the culprit – i.e. “make the logo bigger!”.

These two avenues of feedback might encompass some great ideas, but a better solution is often reached if you focus on the problems you’re trying to solve rather than particular requests instead.

Providing examples of outside designs that give the same impression you’d like can be helpful, but don’t feel like you need to become a designer yourself. Bring the discussion back to the problem you’re trying to solve. Once you can identify your concerns and name the problem, you can find the solution.

A designer who understands the project and understands what the end product is supposed to accomplish will often come up with ideas you may not have thought of – it’s what you’re paying them to do!

It can be a bit overwhelming to see a new set of designs all at once and, but seeing a project come to life through design is also extremely rewarding! Next time you’re in the position to give design feedback, remember these simple tips. By making quality feedback a priority, you’re sure to come up with an awesome final product.


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