How to give good design feedback

11-2022 • Annie


We’ve already discussed the notion that design is everywhere and in everything. We live in a visual world and we are human. This means we have preferences, biases and taste that plays into how we respond to things. If you’re running a business with a product to sell and a customer to target, the role of design in speaking to consumers is integral to your success. You don’t want to mess around with this and so you’ll turn to a design studio like ours to provide support and expertise to deliver your design needs. Sounds easy, right?!

Well, in many ways it can be but you’ll need to ensure you have a few things in place to make it so. A comprehensive design brief, an agency that aligns with your values and makes an effort to understand your needs and a vision of what you want to achieve together. And - crucially - the ability to provide constructive, relevant and useful feedback. Design is like team sport: it’s a collaborative process that requires all team members contribute in a meaningful and pertinent fashion. Giving considered and insightful feedback can be a true turning- point in successful collaboration and project delivery. Here are five tips to giving feedback that will boost your team’s performance. 


It’s not you, it’s me: don’t take it personally

Avoid the personal. It’s easy to get swayed by our own tastes but when you’re designing with your consumer in mind, you’re best placed to use the strategy that was set at the beginning of the project in collaboration with your design team (goals, ambition, audience, etc.) to articulate your thoughts or challenge the ideas. We are designing something for your customers/clients not for you.


The devil’s in the detail (or design!) 

Be specific. The more concrete you are in your response, the more likely the design team will be able to adapt the deliverables to what you want to see. Trying to produce something you can visualize but can’t articulate will likely lead to confusion and even frustration. Use examples, metaphors and doodles to make it easier for everyone to identify what you want to see.


We don’t expect you to read our minds

Ask away! Staying curious about the process and asking questions where there are doubts will facilitate better understanding between all the team players. Staying quiet won’t help advance your project and the nature of your queries will also help designers to understand where they need to be better at describing all of the design possibilities. Design is a collaborative process and ensuring that you feel heard and part of it is important to us too!


Use what you know to get the best of us

Be the expert. You come to the table with your own knowledge about your customers and your products or expertise based on your experience within certain domains. Nourishing the design feedback with your own understanding of certain topics will also keep the collaboration process on the path to success. For example, if you are a part of the marketing team, explaining why the proposals work or don’t work from that point of view will help designers better understand how to adapt the designs to your needs.


Design is a team sport so let’s bring the team spirit

Be human. Kindness and respect are key pillars to successful collaboration. There is a strong possibility that what you see is the result of some deep and considered thinking so bear this in mind when preparing your response. Never assume things were made because they just look great and have faith that the experts you hired know what they’re doing. You don’t have to agree on everything (quite the opposite!) but being kind will go a long way in building a collaboration that delivers ongoing results and - more importantly - is rewarding for each collaborator who takes part. 


And there you have it! A fail-safe (well, sort of!) way to go about preparing feedback for the design teams who only want the best for you and your business.


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