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The Ultimate Guide To Giving And Receiving Design Feedback

The design process should be a collaborative moment between both the client and the designer, spearheaded by the client’s knowledge of the product and consumer base, and the designer’s knack for creativity and bringing the client’s needs to life. 

One of the main things that can get in between this amazing collaborative relationship, though, is the feedback process.

On the client’s end, it can hard to “give up the reigns” so to speak to someone else to perfect the designs you have in mind. You may not know how to correctly (and nicely) formulate a feedback response to your designer, which can frustrate the both of you.

If you’re a designer, feedback can be an intimidating part of the project process. You may feel as if you’re on pins and needles, awaiting a battle with the client and their own point of views.  

On both ends of the design spectrum, whether you are the client or the designer, there are a few things you must keep in mind to make the process smoother:

  • Keep open communication at all times
  • Stay open minded and objective about the other person’s point of view
  • Be clear, yet respectful, about your feedback

Giving Design Feedback

If you’re a client who needs help with what to say when proving feedback to your designer, please keep the below tips in mind to make for a better experience.

Keep It Simple, Yet Specific

Try to offer more direction to your designer than simply a “No, I don’t like this”. This statement is both vague and does nothing to elevate the overall design. To avoid being elusive with what you want, try to narrow down and describe exactly what needs to be revised. Make sure you frame your feedback and describe precisely what it applies to.

For example, does the layout design need to change? How about the color? Make sure to specifically highlight those issues in your response so your designer knows what to tackle during the revision.

Along those same lines, it’s important to offer up clear feedback, but keep it easy to read or interpret. Saying something like “I don’t feel as if the current background color of the website is easy to read, can we make it lighter?” is detailed enough without being complicated and clearer than saying, “This looks bad.”  

Be Kind In Your Approach

Offering up a critique doesn’t have to be negative or come across as shaming the designer.

In order to present your differing opinion as something that isn’t offensive, start by explaining something you like about the current design. It could be something like the font on the landing page of a website. Try saying, “Nice font choice for this page. The bold letters will really draw the customers in.”

From there, move on to any area that you have concerns about. It can be that the picture the designer used on the header of the website doesn’t work for the overall theme. Say something like, “I’m concerned there are one too many color choices on the header on the landing page. We don’t want to overwhelm customers with the differing colors choices. Can you think of another picture to use?”

And lastly, end on a positive note and follow up with praise. It can be something like, “The way you’ve started the design on the website feels airy and compelling. Let’s keep that same feeling throughout the pages.”

It’s important to always stay respectful and kind, even if you don’t have many positive things to say off the bat. It may take a few revision rounds until you and the designer get on the same page, and that’s completely normal, just as long as you both reach the end goal. 

Be Fair And Open-Minded

It’s tempting to let your personal preferences dictate your decision making in the design process, but it is important to remember that your customers’ needs come first. 

When providing feedback, stay objective and take yourself out of the focal point. Instead, focus on what your customers will like and what will make them continue to use your company’s services. 

Instead of phrasing any critique like, “I don’t like this”, focus along the lines of “our users may not understand this”. Make sure you also refrain from giving feedback about the designer, themselves. Be sure to separate the work from the designer. For example, refrain from saying something like, “I don’t like what you’ve done to this landing page. It looks too busy.” Try instead, “The landing page looks unbalanced due to the business of the content.” Your designer will feel as if the critique is with the design and not a personal slight to the designer themselves.

Receiving Design Feedback

If you’re a designer who needs help with how to receive feedback from your client, refer to the below tips.

Don’t Take It So Personally

From a designer perspective, it is essential to stay poised and to never get defensive. Keep in mind that the client only wants you to create the best design for the project and their consumers. 

Critique of your design is not personal. Your client may see things from a very different perspective than you, and that perspective is as valuable as yours. 

The feedback process from your client is a keyway to help you improve your talents as a creative. Always stay professional, even if the client is not. Politely justify your ideas if needed by using your prior experience. Stay opened minded to change and suggestions, as well.

Always Ask Questions and Check In

The surest way to avoid any miscommunication or frustration in the long run is to start the feedback process early. Make sure that you regularly check in with the client to see if they have any questions or concerns about your work. 

Work with your client to implement milestones or check in points. This can mean getting together after you complete each page of a website to go over the design, or it can be checking in with the client on specific days that you’ve both agreed to. This type of thought process makes the work feel collaborative and provides you with ease in knowing that there won’t be any last minute “surprises” on either side as far as design or cost.

Dig For More Feedback If You Have To!

You may encounter some clients who offer very little feedback and appear to like everything that you make. The most that they may say is “good job” or “this looks great!” Though the praise can feel nice, it doesn’t really give you an insight on what they like about your work or even, what you can do to make the design better.

Your client may be too polite to bring up any subtle concerns they may have, or they may feel as if it’s not important to bring to your attention. However, critiques are a healthy part of the design process that forces you to go back and try to design something better. If your client is too full of vague praises, be a bit more direct you’re your questions to coax out any subtle concerns that they may have. push them a bit harder to uncover the more subtle concerns they may have.to help you with any improvement. Healthy scrutiny makes the final design much more fleshed out and purposeful. 

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