Setting guidelines to give constructive design feedback
It can be very hard to give constructive design feedback, here we present a few points that will help to ensure we are delivering a project with the best chance of success.
based on Andrew Fairlie's Giving Good Feedback.
When giving design feedback it's important to be descriptive - not prescriptive.
When you need to offer feedback on our design work, these steps - in order - will lead to quick and effective resolution and ensure we are all working towards the same goal:
Contextualise it in the scope of the project
- Does it work towards the project goals? Does it work against them?
- Does it serve the people using the site? Question things from their point of view rather than yours.
- Does it work within the project constraints (eg. agreed scope of work)?
If you don't think we've succeeded in first point
Ask us for an explanation about why we did it this way. It is our job to offer explanations as to why we have approached a problem in the way we have.
If you're not satisfied with our explanation
Provide an honest and specific explanation about why we're wrong in our explanation - and then leave it with us to think about the solution again.
We are not always correct and some of the best solutions come from our client's knowledge of their customers. We are open to correction but please stick to commenting on our explanations, not offering your solutions.
There are common "feedback gremlins" that seem as though they should be helpful but actually disrupt a project and derail the creative process. Things like:
- Involving others in the feedback process. When we ask for your feedback it's important that it's your feedback. Democracy and good design are incompatible. Opportunity to present to others will come in time. Receiving comment from someone who was outside of the briefing and kick off meetings is unbalanced and not looking at the goals of the project, we will end up with more comment on the aesthetic and not the design.
Prescribing solutions. These introduce new constraints on the project; at which point the project changes. Warning-phrases include:
"Could we just..."
"What would it look like if...?"
"I've seen this site..."
"Our competitors do it like..."
- In the same vein, providing drawings of yours or others ideas complicate matters - we're no longer designing solutions, we're just finishing yours - that's not our job. Trust our methods, our research and track record, it is why you hired us in the first place.
Everything we design is made to fit the agreed goals within the constraints of the project. Our job as your agency is to balance the project brief, the requirements of the people who will use it and your opinion.
Making sure you're happy with what we produce is important - but no more important than meeting the agreed brief and the requirements of the people who will use it. So we won't always act on your feedback. If we don't, know that we're not rebelling - we're doing what you hired us to do.
We are committed to delivering a website that is going to work for you. If we help you meet (and exceed) your targets then you will come back to us to reinvest in digital - this is our business model.