Give and Take: Feedback

Across many disciplines, especially in design, receiving and implementing feedback will make you better. Though it may be nice to surround yourself with friendly peers that only have compliments for you, asking and allowing for feedback in your process will improve your product, process, and/or position.

Go beyond “I don’t really like it.”

Sometimes designers have to push clients, coworkers, and peers to give them more feedback. Asking specific and pointed questions such as “What isn’t working for you?” or “What are the best aspects of this design?” can help the other party give meaningful feedback. It’s important to strive for constructive feedback that focuses on the objective qualities of the work. Accepting “that’s great” or “I don’t really like that” will not help you become a better designer.

Discuss in-person.

When communicating in-person, even the smallest gestures, pauses and interactions can be read as feedback. Of these, the most important may be tone. When communicating online, tone is nonexistent but is often misconstrued as negative. When a designer is reading feedback as opposed to hearing feedback, it may be harder to find the real problem.

A spoonful of sugar makes the feedback go down.

When giving feedback, it’s important to praise the work, but, without sounding dishonest. You can try the “sandwich method.” Start with a positive, follow with the negative, and end with a positive. Although designers are used to receiving feedback, having only negative things to say may discourage the designer from doing better.

Saying “thank you” is a good way to respond after receiving feedback, even if you feel like you’ve just been dumped on, literally. It’s not always easy to receive feedback, but knowing that it will improve your work will help you to respond to someone’s critique.

Feedback isn’t the solution.

Although important, feedback is not the solution. Designers learn to have a natural filter that distills feedback into action items. By taking a moment to step back, you can choose the elements that really need to change to make the work succeed.

Focus on the end goal.

Remember, when people are giving you feedback they aren’t going after you. They want to push you to be better.

A designer that can put aside their ego is a sign of a truly great designer: one who works humbly toward the right solution. — Jeremy Perkins, Director of UX and Design at iFactory

At the end of the day, feedback can only help you and your peers. Knowing when to push others and allowing others to push you will make your work evolve into something of which you are sure to be proud.