Giving your designer feedback on the work they are doing for you is crucial to ensure you get what you are looking for from them. Collaboration is the key to a successful design project.
When deadlines are approaching, budgets are tight, and multiple projects are simultaneously in the works, it’s easy to go through the motions of this feedback loop without thinking critically about how to optimize feedback delivery. The quality of feedback can make a real difference to a project’s outcome and overall success.
Here are our tips on how to give great design feedback.
Communication between the client and the design team is strengthened when thoughtful questions are asked during the design process. Posing questions instead of sending a list of specific changes to be made opens up the lines of communication, encourages further discussion, and ensures that no assumptions are made.
Communicate problems, not solutions
It can be tempting to suggest solutions to things that don’t work in a design. Instead, explain the problem and why the decision is problematic. For example, if you don’t like the placement of a newsletter call-to-action and suggest moving it to another page, let them know why users would sign up for the newsletter when they read another content type (news updates vs. insights, for example) to give them more insight into your audience and help them suggest better solutions. It is easier for the designer to explore other solutions when you describe the problem, rather than presenting the designer with a solution that may not be the best.
Keep focus on the strategic goals
In order to keep feedback discussions productive and move projects in the right direction, keep the conversation focused on whether or not the design is meeting the stated goals. Consider the strategic goals and key audiences instead of asking yourself if you like the new design. Does the design meet the needs of the audiences it serves? As an example, if a website’s stated goal is to be a go-to resource for policymakers in a given field, does its layout support their need to find timely updates and skim dense articles? That’s great if it is! If not, you should start asking questions and describing the problem (see tips 1 & 2).
A clear feedback delivery process is crucial to the success of a project, especially when many stakeholders are involved. As an example, several stakeholders review a design mockup and provide contradictory comments. Several people believe that highlighting metrics on a grantee’s performance will be too difficult to maintain on the website, while others strongly believe it should be included. Sorting through all this feedback takes time, and the designer must make sense of competing opinions and decide which one is most important.
You should deliver feedback that reflects the final opinions of the team to avoid this cringe-inducing scenario. Consider having one team member “responsible” for providing feedback, while ensuring those who needed to be “consulted” had a chance to speak.
Don’t forget to share the good
It is always nice to receive affirmation for a job well done. Although feedback meetings are typically focused on improving work, designers appreciate it when clients share what’s working really well. Besides providing them with motivation to keep working hard for their clients, this pat on the back also allows them to build a knowledge base of what their clients like, so that they can bring more ideas to the table that align with their tastes.
The way in which design feedback is delivered can have a significant impact on a project’s success. With these five tips, collaboration is fostered, roles are defined, strategic goals are brought to the forefront of decision-making, and projects run more smoothly.