Why design criticism is important
Suggestions for receiving and giving critical feedback
When I was younger I hated feedback, in fact It made me a horrible athlete because I wasn’t attentive to someone else’s opinion. It wasn’t until my tennis coach shot a video in slow motion of me serving the ball that I realized how incompetent I really was at tennis & at many other things.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve. “ — Bill Gates
This article will focus on the good, the bad, & the ugly of critiques and a few things I have observed so far in my experience.
Someone ALWAYS has something to say
If there is anything I’ve learned about humans in general is someone always has an opinion (me included!) The best advice I have ever received from my professor is staying true to yourself but always be open to more opinions. We live an amazing world where people are constantly seeing design on their phones. It is extremely valuable that often those who aren’t labeled designers can give feedback.
I love this image guide about client speak & it’s guidelines.This goes hand in hand when receiving feedback that sometimes feels pointless. It is good to think and try to understand what someone is trying to perceive, which leads me to my next point.
Think about what you say, BEFORE you say it
My favorite design critique i’ve had this semester from a fellow design student is “ I simply do not like it!” — When I asked the student what he did not like about it he replied “ I just don’t like it!” The truth is this kind of critique reminds me of a child. Demanding with reason — but not able to use words to fully explain their process. Giving good comments with design principles can be essential to learn and collaborate with designers. I love what Tanner Christensen says in this article “When should we ignore criticism?” It’s refreshing to know that this is something that happens to all designers. I love his points about knowing when to ignore a critique that isn’t valuable. Often designers choose ignorance and domination over others instead of working together and supporting one another in the process.
LISTEN to others
The graphic above is one of my favorite ways to explain design. As you follow the large purple arrow over the top the piece highlights Empathy & the ability to Empathize with others. Good design doesn’t come to be without good testing and user experience. We are creating for others — if we were just creating for ourselves we would never progress. This is similar to the analogy of human life. If we didn’t collaborate & communicate with others we would never learn valuable lessons.
Accept that you make MISTAKES
One thing I see often in design is someone who is too subjective to his/hers opinion that they only choose their opinion. It is good to be open to other ideas and accept that you aren’t the smartest player in the team. I love this quote from Steve Jobs about working in a team. Some of the best things to happen in our tech world were usually not done by one single person.
“ Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” — Steve Jobs
Don’t be AFRAID to share your work
This is a huge problem that I struggle with. Don’t be afraid to share you work because of what others might think. When we don’t share our work or receive critiques we are missing out on become better designers. The power of vulnerability can change the world.
- Use constructive and well thought out feedback.
- Be nice on both ends — As a receiver accept, implement, improve. As a giver have an open mind, complement on things they did well as well as things they could improve on.
- Listen, Empathize, & understand. Remember who the user is for the designer and keep the process in your head.
Cassidy Bouse is a student in the Digital Media program at Utah Valley University, Orem Utah studying Web Design with an emphasis in Interaction & Design. This article relates to the DGM 1240 Communicating Digital Design course and is representative of skills learned.