The 7 types of feedback that content designers receive (and what they really mean)

Feedback is a gift, but sometimes it’d be more suited to a white elephant exchange. Your teammate wrote an email once, so she knows what it takes to craft a compelling message. Your boss’s boss has been at the company since time immemorial, so his way is automatically better than yours.

The only problem? That kind of critique doesn’t help content designers get better. Here’s a handy Rosetta Stone for some of the most common types of feedback we get — and what we take away from it:

The babysitter

This is too long. = Our users have the attention spans of toddlers and won’t read this, but I’ll still spend hours arguing with you about these words.

The data analyst We’ve heard feedback that no one understands this phrase. = I showed it to my hungover roommate and he said, “I dunno, man.”

The true artist

Are you sure it should say that? = I’m a developer, but I’m writing the next Da Vinci Code on the weekends.

The editor of your high school newspaper Is this copy final? = I’m going to rewrite this behind your back.

The dreamer

The CTA needs to nail [insert 12 words here]… in 3 words or less. = I want a Tag Heuer watch at a Timex price.

The mentor Content in this area is super, super important, and it needs to be spot-on. = We’re relying on words here because the interaction is crappy and we’re not going to fix it.

The conductor

I just don’t like it. It doesn’t sing to me. = I don’t know how to give actionable feedback.


So what’s good feedback?

If one or more of the above sounds like you, you might be wondering where to go from here. Good feedback looks a little like this:

Backed by data In our research, 8 of 10 users thought that this sentence was too complex.

Clear and direct I don’t think we should use the word “funambulist” in the UI, and here’s why.

Usable and proactive I’d love to get your opinion on a few ideas I had for this content. Can we meet this afternoon to workshop it together?

Respectful You’re the content expert, and we shouldn’t have to fix an interaction problem with words. Let’s talk to the rest of the team about changing it.


This article would not have materialized without Kim Ryu (illustrations) and the QuickBooks Self-Employed content design team.

MicroBiz Design

Dispatches from the Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed and QuickBooks Financing design team

Sarah M. Smart

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world's oldest millennial | content strategy at Adobe | all opinions and curse words my own

MicroBiz Design

Dispatches from the Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed and QuickBooks Financing design team