How to ask for design feedback?

Feedback is one of the best things you can get a designer. It can open up your eyes and show a completely different perspective. It can teach something you didn’t know, or reinforce something you already did. It can help your team work better together. It can help you grow.

Regular and effective feedback can build trust and build strong relationships between team members. I have worked in many companies in which giving feedback was something heavily engraved in the design process. In other companies, this step was lacking. And I could feel the difference in the dynamic and performance between teams when getting and giving feedback was continuously present to when it wasn’t.

When getting feedback I have learnt all kinds of things. Sometimes a lesson on design. Some others, insights on the business or the users. I have also come to realise that others face or have faced the same challenges I do from, and opened the possibility to work together closer on the topic. All these things have only benefited my and my team’s work.

I also know that asking for feedback can be intimidating. I have felt myself the fear of asking for feedback. “What will they think of my unfinished designs? What if they realise I don’t know the answer to something? What if they think I am not good enough?” In the end, you are exposing yourself and opening up to a group of people, and that can seem quite daunting.

But I have learnt that if you really want to improve your work and grow, you need to hear what others have to say. So how can we can make sure we are asking for feedback and getting the answers we need?

I follow a simple structure during my conversations/presentations that, on the one hand, helps me get the insights I need, and on the other, gives me the support to be in control.

1. Introduce the topic & tell people what type of feedback you are looking for

Reduce the cognitive load of your audience by giving them cues of what they will see and what they should be focusing on:

  • What will you be showing?
  • What is the status of what you are showing?
  • What do you want people to focus on?
  • What feedback are you looking for?

For example:

“Today I will show you the check-out flow. Even if the designs are not final, I would like you to give me initial feedback on the flow.”

“Today I will show you the results from my usability test for the feature which enables users to add emojis to their messages, and I would like you to give me feedback on what can I do next with the results because I feel they are quite mixed.”

“Today I will show you an updated version of the Welcome email design and I would like you to give me feedback on the overall look and feel.”

2. Explain how you got where you are

Give more context to your audience so they can evaluate and give more relevant feedback. If this is the second time you ask for feedback, recap your notes from your last meeting and share what you have updated.

  • What did you do previously?
  • What data do you have they should know about?

For example

“I worked on the check out for the past week, and we want to do a usability test in a week. Our goal is to reinforce trust.”

“For the usability test I showed users a prototype which allowed them to add an emoji to their message. I tested the prototype with 5 users, 4 of which were not very tech savvy. The results completely failed.”

“The goal of this email is to increase engagement. Last time I got feedback from some of you that there was no clear hierarchy in the elements. I have now worked on this aspect of the design.”

3. Show the relevant designs/results/data

This step is straight forward, but I do recommend you to think on how you are presenting it. The goal here is to give a clear understanding to your audience on the subject and the way you present it will also have an influence on the feedback you get. If you need feedback on a certain flow, perhaps you want to show a prototype. If you want feedback on how to move forward because you are stuck, maybe you want to show the different directions and versions you have tried out.

4. Ask for the feedback you are looking for

After presenting the work, tell your audience again what type of feedback you are looking for. At this point, your audience might have questions. Let them ask them, but if you see the conversation is going somewhere that is not relevant to your goal, try to redirect the conversation to your initial question.

For example:

“What do you think about the flow of the screens? Does it seem to you as a logic flow?”

“What do you think I should do with these results? I am not sure if I was testing with the right audience, or if I should change my design completely?”

“What do you think about the look and feel? Is it aligned with brand guidelines?”

5. Take notes & Recap the most important points

It is very important to take all the notes you can when getting feedback. Sometimes it is better if someone who is not presenting can actually capture all the things that are being spoken about. Once you have gotten your feedback, it never hurts to recap the most important points.

6. And last but not least… Say thank you!

I have found that following this structure when asking for feedback in meetings with other designers or multi-disciplinary team very helpful. It sets the scope, asks for a clear goal, and shows all the necessary things your audience needs to have a clear understanding. It then allows you to capture everyone else’s knowledge on the topic, which is what you will make you grow and help you become a better designer.

Thanks for reading!

Sharing my process and experience as a product designer