From the Design Team: How to Give Feedback to Designers
Carly, Associate Art Director
First and foremost, it really helps the whole process go more smoothly (and usually more quickly, with less rounds of edits) if the client is as specific as possible as to what they’re looking for and what their needs are from the start. Sometimes, they may not know exactly what they need (and it is partially our job to help them figure this out!), but it’s useful to find examples of websites/designs/brands that they like so that the designer can form a better idea of the kind of look and feel they prefer. That’s why we conduct a brand survey – a questionnaire to capture the essence of a new brand – at the beginning of each of our branding projects!
Also, before asking a designer to make several changes, we recommend listening to the reasoning behind their visual choices and asking for their opinion because, after all, they are the experts trained in design. There might be some design terminology that clients without a creative background are unfamiliar with, and if so we recommend checking out some of our past blog posts that cover topics from typography to color theory (check out the “Design” section of our blog for these posts and more!).
Kalli, Creative Director
When I’m working with clients and we’re in the feedback stage of a project, I always try to keep the conversation centered around the core problem we’re trying to solve, instead of personal preference or opinion alone. While personal preference plays a role in visual work, it’s usually helpful to give design feedback informed by the creative brief – such as, “based on our previous findings, I’m not sure this photograph will resonate with our target audience” instead of “I don’t like the looks of this photograph”. This type of feedback can help all team members stay focused on achieving one ultimate goal.
Another tip – which can be tricky – is to trust your designer to come up with thoughtful and effective solutions. This goes along with my previous tip – state your feedback or concern as it relates to the original problem we’re trying to solve, then allow your designer the space to find the best solution. For example, feedback like “I think the name of the candidate should be larger, since we’re trying to increase name recognition in her district” gives space for the designer to make adjustments and come up with the best solution for the problem at-hand. A client shouldn’t feel the need to make every small design decision or ‘move the mouse’ for their designer. Just voice the concern in a clear way and allow your designer to do the work. It’s what we’re paid to do – and it’s what we love!
Campbell, Visual Composer
My favorite way to give and to receive feedback is sandwich style. It can be a compliment sandwich if you’re talking about the bread or a shit sandwich if you’re talking about the “meat”. You start with a compliment like “good job” to start off on the right foot. Then you say what needs to be fixed, or what problems you see in a constructive way. Then you end with another compliment like “good work, keep it up” The sandwich method works when the compliments are sincere, as a way to let person getting the feedback know that they are on the right track. People generally don’t respond well to constant criticism without a reminder that they are actually doing a good job. Making changes is a natural part of the design process but designers can get bogged down when they are only thinking about the bad and not the good.
John, Web Development/Production Artist
The thing that I appreciate most is just being super direct. In addition to that, with some projects there may be several groups of editors/approvers who may not be in sync with each other which will cause conflicts. Within each group there might also be five people with five different opinions or criticisms and they’ll all send it in separate emails instead of getting together as a group and making a final decision. It also helps to have feedback given in intervals instead of just rapid fire. Sometimes clients know they want something changes but they are very vague about it. If you really feel strongly about a change just be direct with me and we can work together towards your vision. I feel like I’ve gotten the best response from clients when I’ve been direct.
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