How to respond to design feedback
A few months back, I was presenting a design session and one of the stakeholders said that “this is not what we are expecting” and “these designs are not up to the mark”. Seriously! The design and product team took months to come up with that particular UI. We took it as a challenge with good spirit. As a team, we gathered all the pieces of information and expectations from the client-side and came up with new designs which they liked and approved.
“Needs more pop.” “ I don’t like that Orange” “Something is off” “I don’t know” “It’s not up to the mark” “Logo can be bigger” “Typo on CTA button “ “I like how SLACK designed that feature” “It is not trendy anymore.”
If you are a designer, you can relate to these (abstract) words. We have all been there many times. No matter how old we are and how many years of experience we have, it’s a never-ending scenario. We have to go through with all those types of feedback and criticism.
You could tweet an angry comment, post a desperate status on your social media wall or visit the sites like https://clientsfromhell.net/ and console yourself by reading the other designer’s experiences. I did it in my early career stages and realised it won’t help in real life to improve my design career.
We might feel down and defensive when someone’s telling us that our design just doesn’t work or the visual lacks that “WOW.” Criticism is inevitable. So the first step is, accept it and act on it with the right attitude.
Learn to present the designs.
Our job is not just to design and send it as a JPEg or PNG or upload it to Invision. Designers should learn how to articulate the design solutions and rationale. Use data (quantitative data to define, and qualitative data describe) and experience to justify our thinking.
Not take it personally.
It’s painful and hard when someone criticizes your work. We need to understand this, it’s about one of the works you have done. It’s not about you. Stay open-minded to new perspectives and expect others to disagree with you. Take every feedback constructively and learn to grow from it.
Understand who is providing feedback.
We need to understand the dynamics of the feedback group. Is there one person overrule the others? Is it a bunch of people? What background do they have? A few people are there because they just want to be heard. Learn a little bit of Mentalism. I’m just kidding. :) But we can understand by listening to them carefully. Our work is based on our own preconceived notions or experience and the clients looks at design through a filter shaped by their personal experience. Their views might be very different from us. So it’s a new possibility and that perspective is valuable. Leave your ego behind and be open to ideas no matter where they come from.
Ask Specific Questions
WHY? That’s my all-time favourite.
What is confusing on this page? Is the information architecture correct? Does this design align with your brand positioning? What is missing? (specific), Where would you put this element? etc.
If feedback gets too personal or subjective, ask to provide adequate justification for their requests and focus back to product goals and metrics. Don’t end the discussion until you get the information for the next design updates.
I normally take a bottle of water for these kinds of meetings. It allows me to control my emotions by taking a sip of water. A deep breath. All these help us to avoid giving instant defensive reactions. The feedback process is the most important way for us to improve our designs so the product. Start the feedback and iteration process as early as possible in the product development cycle. Encourage non-designers to participate in design meetings and come up with the solution. Be curious and collaborative.
Keep Calm and Let it go
Whatever mentioned above are the ideal scenarios. Let’s admit that sometimes we have to do what we don’t agree or like. If we want to stay in a creative profession we need to learn “LET IT GO” sometimes. Get it shipped. I would say, designers always should have a side project or help your friend’s startup apart from our daily salaried job. That helps you to explore and experiment. There is no such place like when you present a design and everyone says ‘wow’ all the time. We need to learn how to balance. Balance ensures our growth as an individual and secures our mental peace. Say ‘Thank you’ even for the harshest comment and stay polite even if your stakeholders are not. Keep calm and generate lots of creative ideas.