Use this UX design critique checklist to give constructive design feedback on UI/UX wireframes, mockups, and more.
Critique is a foundational part of design education and professional practice.
In one sense, design critique is simple: it’s just the process of evaluating others’ work and ideas. However, there is definitely an art to giving and receiving a meaningful critique.
When it comes to UX Design, providing constructive feedback on UI/UX wireframes, mockups, and more can be an invaluable tool in helping teams achieve their desired goals and objectives.
In this article, we're sharing a few tips to help you give (and receive) feedback in a way that's constructive and moves the project forward.
To help you give effective design feedback, we have created a 10-point UX design critique checklist covering topics ranging from usability and navigation to accessibility accommodations and aesthetics. With this checklist in hand, even those new to UX Design can be sure not to miss important details when giving feedback on UI/UX designs. Read on to learn more about our 10-point criteria for giving constructive design feedback.
Why Design Critique Is Important For the Design Process
Feedback is an essential part of the design process, as it provides an opportunity to critically evaluate a product or service from multiple perspectives.
As a UX designer, your focus in any design project typically revolves around pairing user research findings with usability best practices.
Who Should Give Design Critique?
Your work as a designer doesn't exist in a bubble: the initial ideas, marketing, selling, and even customer retention depend on other teams and professionals whose focus might be on other areas of the user journey or business needs.
A few of these other individuals or teams who you might regularly receive (or ask for) comments and feedback from on your design solutions include:
Stakeholders, from multiple teams across the business
Collaborators, from writers considering copy needs to developers looking at technical requirements
Design colleagues, who might be looking at anything from information architecture to UI elements, or interaction design finesse
Your mentor/team lead, who might offer feedback that pertains to your personal career growth as well as overall cohesion within the product
Yourself, perhaps considering how well you've taken other perspectives into account to empower your work, in addition to your own UX expertise
Users, who may ultimately be your harshest critics
How to Receive Feedback Gracefully
When you pour your heart into a design and put forth your best work, hearing critical points of feedback—especially from non-designers on the team—can be incredibly challenging.
When you’re the one in the hot seat, here are a few helpful reminders for how to handle a critique.
Practice active listening: During a critique, you should be focused primarily on understanding what the person giving the critique is trying to communicate. Take notes, and repeat their words back to them to be sure you understand what they’re saying—and ask clarifying questions, if necessary.
Thank the critique-er for sharing their thoughts and time: Even if someone’s feedback never makes it into your design (whether because it’s a lower priority or perhaps misses the mark altogether on what this particular design project is focused on), you’ll want to make sure that each person giving feedback feels heard and valued. Some of the best insights tend to come from unusual sources, and it’s important to ensure that each person on the team is empowered to share their thoughts and insights candidly during feedback sessions.
Reflect on each piece of feedback: Often, critiques are delivered imperfectly. It’s up to you, as a designer, to get to the heart of what they’re trying to say, as well as determine whether it’s relevant to your design work.
Tips for Delivering Design Critique
On the flip side, learning how to deliver design critique in a constructive way can be a way to increase the value that you add to your team.
Here are a few tips:
Focus on the design: Even the most thoughtful critique can trigger defensiveness in the person who’s presenting the design. To help your feedback feel impartial, try to ensure that you phrase your comments so that they refer to the design rather than the designer.
Be clear when you’re playing the devil’s advocate: One of the most helpful phrases when delivering design critique is the phrase, “I’m going to play the devil’s advocate for a bit…” This semi-disclaimer helps the person receiving the feedback to embrace a state of mind where they can easily take in more confrontational, rapid-fire questions without feeling attacked or triggered. Asking questions through different lenses is also a great exercise, in general, for reviewing and considering your design work.
Dig into the why: It’s easy to make an assumption about someone else’s work. Take the time to ask for more insight into the thought process behind a design decision to uncover some elements that you might not have thought of—or to help realign an assumption about goals and expectations.
Use this checklist as a guide to help you critique your own work, as well as offer insightful commentary and direction on work from other designers moving forward.
1: Objectives & Goals
Are the user's overall objectives and goals clearly defined? Is there a clear understanding of what the company goals are for this design project?
2: Information Architecture & Visual Hierarchy
Assess the organization, readability, structure, and presentation of visual elements in a wireframe/mockup/prototype. This includes looking at labels, menus, and other elements that help guide users. Ask yourself if the information presented is easy to understand and navigate? Are there any redundancies that can be removed for a better experience?
Check that the navigation structure and the controls are consistent, easy to understand, usable, and intuitive. Does each page use the same navigational design patterns to create a sense of cohesion? Is it easy to tell which is the primary or secondary navigation (if there are more than one)? Is there an easy way to move back and forth between pages or page levels?
4: Visual Design & Branding
Another area of consideration is the visual design and branding. This involves looking at colors, typography, images, and other elements that are essential for an effective and cohesive experience. Are all of the design elements being used properly? Is there consistency across screens or platforms? Are the colors and fonts congruent with the brand's style guide?
Review that all labels and text use language that is appropriate for the intended user. Check for consistency in capitalization and punctuation. Are the naming conventions logical? Do they make sense for users in terms of understanding what each feature does?
Consider how well a design accommodates people with physical and cognitive impairments and disabilities. For example, you’ll want to ensure that users who have low visibility or color blindness, require screen readers, etc., can still access the information and overall experience of your product.
On the business side of the equation, designing with accessibility in mind means that you can reach a wider range of customers, and are not imposing barriers because of a poorly thought out design or flow.
When critiquing UX designs, it's important to consider interactions and animations. Do they match user expectations? Does it feel intuitive when users interact with the product or website? Are there any issues with load times or sluggishness?
8. Mobile Responsiveness
Part of the review process should include considering mobile responsiveness, and testing whether your design can adapt as needed. Responsive sizing should be considered on smaller mobile devices as well as on large screens with high resolution (think 5K desktop monitors).
9. Usability Testing
Finally, usability testing and research should also be included in your design critique. Conducting usability tests can reveal issues that weren’t obvious during the design process, while conducting research can uncover insights from users that could help improve the product or website. As you review the design, you might ask open ended questions on whether usability testing was conducted and whether the findings were incorporated.
10. Performance & Quality Assurance
Your design isn't the end product … that happens after the work is handed off from the design team to developers. Is the design ready for hand off? Does it include appropriate specs for whitespace padding/margins, typography, color palette, and interactions? Will you be a part of the testing to ensure that the designs look and behave as expected once deployed? Is there anything that needs to be considered or clarified further in terms of how this design fits into the product as a whole?
Ultimately, learning how to give and receive feedback gracefully can help your team produce higher quality work and strengthen the relationships between designers and non-designers alike.
With practice and a few tips, design critique sessions can be more productive and helpful to the design project as a whole.
Consider all the elements of a design from multiple angles: copy, visuals, accessibility, functionality, and more.