3. Announce the type of feedback you want
After sharing the goal of your project, and the problem you’re solving, it’s also good practice to tell people the goal of your design feedback session.
Just as writers ask for various kinds of feedback (like commenting, editing, and proofreading) designers can request different types of critique too.
For example, depending on the stage of a project and the problems you’re tackling, you could be looking for:
- Suggestions about which visual direction to take
- Another pair of eyes on work to catch mistakes and omissions
- Someone to brainstorm or talk through design decisions with
Usually, of course, all kinds of feedback are welcome. But in some cases, like when you’re stuck on something very specific, it can be frustrating to have to field a much broader set of comments.
You can also avoid this by guiding your feedback session in a very organized way: get feedback piece-by-piece, with each one relating back to your overall goal for the session.
4. Control the environment by using the right tools
If you’re seeking feedback remotely by sending your mockups to a mentor, team member, or client, using a project management or team collaboration tool can be especially helpful.
My favorite tool for design feedback currently is Miro. The app allows you to easily ideate, organize insights, and create end-to-end design flows. With Miro you can share mockups, get feedback, and gather approvals all in one place and in real-time.
You can also seamlessly add Sketch, InVision, Adobe Creative Cloud and more to your Miro workflow through integrations.
Miro allows you to easily share your work through presentation mode and high resolution exports of board content. By controlling the environment of your designs in an app like this, collecting and tracking feedback becomes 10x more organized, and effective.
5. Limit the options
A great way to get specific, actionable design feedback is to limit the number of choices available.
For example, if you’re unsure about the color of a button, but know there are only three appropriate colors in your brand’s color palette or design system, display only those three options, and make it clear that other possibilities aren’t available for that project.
Limit the number of designs you ask for feedback on as well. Don’t overload your reviewer with too many items for a single discussion. Instead, focus on quality over quantity. Use approaching deadlines as a guide for deciding which pieces to ask for feedback on.
6. Provide data to support your design decisions
Referring to data gathered from testing or from a live product is a surefire way to get informed feedback. Data can prove the effectiveness of a design in a way that subjective opinion cannot.
Use quantitative data to define, and qualitative data describe. Both types of data are necessary to paint a complete picture. For example, suppose that you’re redesigning your software company’s free trial experience.
To fully understand the impact of a redesign, highlight quantitative data from before and after the redesign, like action-completion rates, conversions from free to paid accounts, and so on.
If you’ve conducted user research and testing, showcase any qualitative data available when discussing design decisions with your reviewer. Paired with personas, qualitative data will make sure that design feedback stays centered around user stories.
Remember, without supporting data your design might be weak—but without a story, your design could be meaningless.
7. Provide multiple opportunities for feedback
Don’t fill design “feedback” sessions with your own thoughts or defenses of your design decisions.
Leave space for your reviewer to provide their honest feedback. You must ensure that the reviewer feels both comfortable giving you candid critique, and has multiple opportunities to provide feedback on each topic.
Coming back to a topic later on—after discussing the project in its entirety—can give both you and your reviewer a new outlook. Similarly, offering enough time to pause between topics and allowing for feedback to organically conclude, will help the review process.
8. Ask specific questions, and then ask ‘why.’
Many people want to know specific questions to ask during a design feedback session. Here are some of the things Designlab UX Academy students are encouraged to ask during group critiques:
- What is memorable?
- Where did you become bored?
- What problem is this solving?
- How does this information support this page’s purpose?
- What is confusing?
- Does this design appeal to you as a person?
- What is missing?
- Where would you put this element?
- What could be removed?
- Did I emphasize this enough?
Then, once your reviewer has given you their unique point of view, prompt them to take it a step further by asking, “why?” and if necessary, “why?” a few more times too.
9. Ask them what they don’t like
While you should obviously understand what others do like about your design, be sure to also capture what they do not like.
This is kind of like that interview question “How could our company could do better?” This question makes it so that constructive criticism is almost required in order to properly provide an answer—after all, everything can be improved.
10. Accept feedback gracefully
Above all else, the best way to get helpful design feedback is to always accept it gracefully—both praise and critique. A guaranteed way to not get helpful feedback in the future is to come off as argumentative or too defensive when offered constructive criticism.
While receiving constructive criticism can be ego-bruising, it’s important to receive it with tact and grace. Here are some tips on handling constructive criticism:
- Try not to react at all—whatever your first reaction is, shut it down.
- Say thank you—and mean it. After all, even negative feedback is usually out of care, not malice.
- Engage your most thoughtful self, and shut down your combative self.
- Seek to fully understand the other person’s feedback and perspective. If you don’t understand, ask further open questions.
- Deconstruct the feedback to get to the root of the issues raised—after the conversation if necessary.
Whether you’re in design school, working on a design team, or design freelancing for clients, asking for design feedback is an integral part of any good design process.
Ensuring that feedback is high quality, through these helpful tips, is what will make your designs truly succeed.
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