Five Tips for Giving the Right Feedback on Web Design

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Receiving Web design feedback, complimentary or otherwise, can be a touchy experience for designers. Marketers need to be careful how they deliver feedback—whether it’s their first time working with the designer or their tenth time.

Giving design feedback should be collaborative and painless. Going full-on Don Draper and tearing apart your designer’s work won’t lead to better designs. On the other hand, providing unclear notes or not enough feedback might prove even less effective.

Instead, to create the best designs possible, you need to find the right balance between being too harsh and too lenient or inconclusive. Good feedback is essential to good design.

So, how do you find that happy medium? Consider these five tips when looking to improve your design-feedback process.

1. Evaluate the problems

It’s easy to pick out what isn’t working, but it’s much more challenging to actually assess those problems and effectively communicate them. As the person in charge of giving feedback, you have to not only determine what areas need work but also explain the reasoning behind your critique and provide suggestions for moving forward.

It’s hard for a designer to understand why you don’t like something if you just say, for example, “remove that drop-down” or “make that green instead of blue.” Instead, you need clarify what the issue is and why the change needs to be made. Doing so will help the designer develop an appropriate solution and come back to you with a much-improved design.

Clarifying the issue will also give the designer insight into what you like and what your customers need, and that information will be valuable for future projects.

2. Be as specific as possible

Let’s get something straight: Designers aren’t mind readers. Providing vague feedback is not constructive or efficient. Doing so will take designers more time to figure out what you’re trying to say than to fix the actual problem.

Tell your design team exactly what you like and what you don’t like. Getting right to the point rather than beat around the bush is more effective. Doing so saves a ton of time and money that would otherwise be spent going through more rounds of edits.

Try to use the magic words “it’s too…”; if there’s a certain aspect or style of the design you don’t think is a fit, supplement your feedback with that phrase. For instance, saying something is “too cluttered” is much more helpful and constructive than simply saying “I don’t like this.” Simplifying a particular component rather than completely redesigning it is easier for a designer.

The more specific you are, the better designers can determine the next steps and the best direction to take.

3. Focus on the big picture

When you’re dealing with a large group of people, you have to worry about having too many cooks in the kitchen. Each person is going to have his or her own opinion or aesthetic preference, which often causes the end goal to get lost.

A designer can’t and won’t please everyone, so bring to the forefront only those concerns that have the most and best reasoning behind them.

If one person says, “I don’t like red,” that provides the designer no insight into what the group as a whole or even your customers prefer. However, if the entire group believes the red is “too overbearing” or “the color doesn’t resonate with your customers,” then that is an appropriate concern to relay to the designer. Designers can’t fix a problem until they understand why something is a problem.

Sometimes, you have to put your personal opinions aside to make the process more efficient on the designer’s end.

4. Say what you do like about the design

Though pointing out what you don’t like about the design is essential, just as important is emphasizing what you think works. Doing so will give your design team some guidance on what changes to make and what the right solution is going to be.

Instead of focusing only on the negatives, make a goal of giving at least three positive comments.

5. Be honest and respectful

Getting caught up in a project is easy—there’s a lot of back and forth communication, edits, and time spent making the design perfect—but you can’t forget basic respect.

No members on your team should be afraid to speak their mind or feel that their opinions are unwanted. Creating a collaborative environment is important if you’re going to produce work that everyone will be happy with.

You may not like many aspects of a design, but that doesn’t mean you have to rip the whole thing apart. True, you shouldn’t hold back if something needs to be reworked, but hyper-negative feedback won’t lead to better designs. Instead, find a way to make all your comments and concerns constructive.

To ensure success and effective teamwork, you must be honest, professional, and respectful.

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