Effective design feedback is an important step in creating a good product and supporting teamwork. A designer must be able to give feedback and be open to others' feedback in order to improve the product and grow as a professional.
It is important to build on both sides of the process so that the feedback discussion does not turn into a painful experience or spoil the relationship within the team. The designer should clearly form the request, and the client or manager should prepare a useful review.
Why feedbacks are important part of teamwork
During the product development process, design is often subject to a lot of reviews and criticism. Despite the fact that designers are often difficult to perceive, the product changes for the better: previously unknown problems are revealed, and the design becomes more elaborate.
Regular feedback sessions build team unity and strong trusting relationships between people. They listen to each other in order to work better together and grow at the same time.
How to ask for feedback
For effective results, designers need feedback early and more frequent. Without it, it is impossible to know whether the process is moving in the right direction or not. It is important to understand that from the very beginning you need to be open to criticism and perception of different points of view. A designer first of all needs to see how other people can perceive their work in different ways. Design is a solution to business problems and user problems, not an artist's self-expression or a work of art of fashion trends.
Present your design
To evaluate a design, you need to know its goals, concept, problems that it solves. Before leaving critics alone with the design to generate feedback, it's important to put them in context.
The best way to do this is to add your own comments to the mockups to help you understand the tasks, or to prepare a prototype that will help you quickly feel the design. This way, people who give feedback will have enough information to form an opinion about the designer's work.
Effective feedback depends not only on the context, but also on the format of the process. After people learn more about the design and its goals, they should be advised where to look. The designer can help make reviews more useful by preparing specific questions instead of the general "What do you think?"
Highlight the areas where help is most needed. It will be useful to find out the opinion about whether the navigation is clear, are colors distinguishable, what the brand is associated with. Ask questions to get as many useful opinions as possible.
Tell us about your expectations
If the team is not used to giving and receiving feedback, you need to find a common wave and convey thoughts on how to build the process so that they feel comfortable. The team must understand what actions the designer expects from them - will a small anonymous comment, a story about personal impressions be enough, or do you want to conduct a full-fledged usability testing.
It's better to build a process on frequent small design updates and constant feedback. Thus, the design will develop in the right direction, and the team will feel involved in the design process.
Treat reviews with dignity
Aspiring designers forget that feedback is not an attack on their creation to defend against. Through feedback, designers try to help create a better product.
It is important to remember that criticism is not a negative assessment of personal qualities. The purpose of the review is to allow you to look at the design from a different perspective. If you defend yourself against negativity, then next time people will simply express their opinions less.
Therefore, the best way to respond to any feedback is to express gratitude and show interest in any feedback. This will support the processes in the team and smooth out conflicts.
How to give feedback
The second party that determines the effectiveness of the feedback is the client or manager who needs to leave feedback. It is important to remember that this is not a game with only one goal, here you will need a contribution on an equal basis with the other side.
Remember the purpose of the project
To keep from breaking the process, remember that the goal of the evaluator is to help the designer perform better. It is important not to mislead them with your personal preferences or evaluate personality over their work. Be honest and try to provide useful feedback, whatever it may be.
Don't offer solutions
A very common mistake is to tell the designer what to do instead of just pointing out the problem that future users may face. It is important to formulate questions that will lead the designer to new, better solutions. “What should be done so that the logo is not lost in the background?”, “What is the best way to make a payment through the site?”, “How can you attract new users?” Feedback should not be in the form of requirements, even if the solution seems to be on the surface.
Be short and specific
Good feedback means small but frequent iterations. The faster feedback is received, the faster the team will work. As important as the extent to which the designer prepared the material and what specific questions they formulated, it is also important how clear the feedback was provided to them.
Don't waste time on areas that are not important in the current iteration. Help the designer organize the process so that in one session, you discuss specific issues: for example, button colors or just UX.
Also, the use of common words makes feedback difficult to comprehend. The designer will not be able to understand the feedback from the words "it is somehow strange here", "I cannot understand what is wrong here", "it does not look very good." It would be better if you tell in concrete words what caused the problem: “I could not figure out how to get back to the profile”, “large pictures distract from the buttons”, “the color of the error message is difficult to read”.
It is important to consider the context in which the design will be used. Remember first impressions and intuitive reactions when testing marketing materials. If you are exploring a product interface that you will use frequently, simulate user behavior to provide useful feedback.
Agree on context and expectations
Another way to improve design feedback is to gain a general understanding of the processes. Don't be afraid that the designer will misunderstand the review. It is better to agree in advance in what format they will need feedback and how you will communicate. What is the purpose of the whole project and what is important to focus on at the current stage. More connected communication helps align the plans of the entire team and ensures the continuity of the product development process.
Collecting feedback seems to be the easiest step in design. You can get feedback in many ways, but without the right processes, some of it gets lost, misinterpreted, or ignored.
The exchange of feedback should be clear to all participants. Store reviews in a public place so your team gets timely feedback.
For example, design annotations in Plant help designers provide feedback by allowing ideas and contextual notes to be shared in the right places in layouts. And notifications of new comments instantly deliver feedback to your Slack channel or email.
With practice, the feedback process only gets better. At the same time, designers will be able to take discussions of layouts to the next level by asking questions that will help find areas in design that need improvement and involve the rest of the team in the design processes. This way, feedback becomes a true team activity.