The insider guide to discussing design

If you’re a digital designer, how good are you at receiving feedback?

This post is not about the elements of great design, it’s about how to ‘discuss’ the broad subject of digital design, which generally involves providing feedback to the person who created that design – it could be a digital designer, graphic designer, art director or creative director. Providing feedback can be tricky at the best of times, but when you’re dealing with the product of a creative process, built by creative people – the stakes are high that it will be an unproductive discussion ending in tears.

The good news is, there is a way to provide feedback on design directly to design creators that is productive, collaborative and ends in an improved outcome – for the end-user and the creative agency.

Providing design feedback: Five reasons to think before you speak

  1. Feedback is not about judgement: constructive feedback is about the product not the person. Your role in providing feedback is about improving something, not tearing it down.
  2. Start with the positive: look hard, you will find something good about the design.  Wait. Your initial response may be the strongest but at this point, you’re also less able to convey that response in a measured, non-confrontational manner
  3. Wait to be asked: is it actually your role to be providing feedback? Even if it is, you can still ask: Would you like me to provide some feedback? It’s a good way to broach the subject
  4. Ask, don’t tell: There’s a couple of reasons why asking open-ended questions about the design is a good idea. Firstly, you might learn that there’s a perfectly acceptable reason why a particular feature has been designed the way it has. Secondly, you’re enquiring about something, not making statements, which is much easier for the receiver to take.
  5. Establish a feedback framework: This helps everyone understand what the aim of the feedback is. It gives the web designer and creative team an idea of which design elements are subject to scrutiny and keeps the client’s design objective clearly at the top of the agenda for all parties.

Receiving design feedback: Five reasons why feedback is good for you

  1. Feedback is not about judgement: this goes for the receiver as well as the provider of feedback. Feel free to remind everyone involved and definitely add this point to your feedback framework
  2. Remember to listen first and foremost: It’s really hard not to be defensive about something you’ve created, but defensiveness digs a really big hole that is hard to get out of. Don’t back yourself into a corner. Listen, reflect, and then respond
  3. Participate: this is your project, take ownership and be an active part of the solution. If you’re involved enough in the design to care about the feedback, you’re the ideal person to continue to improve it.
  4. Understand the intent: The intention of the person providing feedback is to improve your work. If you genuinely doubt the intent of the person providing the feedback, politely
  5. Next steps: Keep moving. Don’t get bogged down in the feedback stage of the process. Take that feedback, document it and then move on to the next phase.

At iFactory, our team of digital designers and developers has been providing and receiving feedback for over a decade. We’re good at it, which is why we’re still designing award-winning digital solutions for a wide range of clients. If you’re looking for a digital agency that enjoys every part of the collaborative process, get it touch today by calling +61 7 3844 0577.

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