‘Good’ Feedback Doesn’t Mean ‘Positive’ Feedback! – a Guide for Clients (& Designers)
Feedback is an essential and valuable part of the design process. Giving ‘good’ feedback can make the difference between good design and great design.
But what is ‘good feedback’?
We’ve put together the following guide to explain what ‘good’ feedback is, how to give it, and to help our clients to get the most out of their projects and budgets.
Define the problem
Good feedback requires a good brief. Before engaging in the design process the problem should be identified. The target audience and project goals should be also clearly defined. This ensures that creative output can be measured against specific desired outcomes.
The spirit of collaboration
Best results always come from working collaboratively. Critiques are a collaborative tool that when used well, improve creative output and steer the project towards a specific goal. Designers should present a rationale for the design decisions they have made in order for fully informed stakeholders and colleagues (often other designers) to deliver their feedback. A good critique then forms the valuable basis for discussion, negotiation and development.
Be direct and specific
To get the most out of the design process it’s important to be direct with your feedback. Honesty, clarity and even bluntness are much more valuable than watered down or vague feedback. Being direct helps avoid confusion when designers come to actioning that feedback.
Try to qualify why the design does or does not meet objectives. Meaningful feedback is essential to further relevant conversation around your project and to push it forward in the right direction. For example “this typeface works because it feels playful and approachable”. If feedback is vague, for example “It’s great!” or “I don’t like it”, we’ll help get to the specifics by steering the conversation around to exploring the reasons why.
Designers should always design for the specified target audience and seek to avoid their own personal bias. Meaningful feedback comes from taking the same approach to design critique.
Frame your feedback around your target audience and project goals. Try to separate personal preferences and subjective bias from objective feedback. It’s not always easy to do, but asking yourself the right kind of questions can help. Try to avoid subjective questions such as ‘do I like this design?’ and instead focus on ones such as ‘does this this design meet the project objectives?’ and ‘will this engage our audience’?
Make it actionable
Once critique has taken place, it’s important that the next steps are agreed upon and explicitly defined by collaboratively deciding what to drop and what to take forward and develop. This helps us avoid making any unnecessary assumptions and ensures that potential solutions don’t slip through the net. From a practical perspective it also helps prevent projects from straying too far from goals, timescales and budgets.
Don’t hold back!
Don’t hold back to spare feelings. By all means be polite, but know that our job is to take on board, understand and utilise feedback to further develop your project towards a successful outcome.
Welcome a challenge!
Hiring good designers means hiring professional opinion, expertise and experience as well as design & cultural knowledge. It’s important to hire designers to solve problems and get results, not just to carry out wishes. Good designers will always push for what they feel is right solution to your brief, which on occasion may contrast with your own opinion. Relish this! This is a sign that you’ve hired the right team and are getting the most out of your designers and budget, and have not unwittingly hired a bunch of ‘YES men / women’! Be wary of a designer that doesn’t push your buttons every now and then!!
Remember, good feedback doesn’t mean positive feedback!