By Roy Chomko, President of Adage Technologies
Providing effective - and meaningful - Web design feedback can sometimes be a difficult process. Critiquing a designer's work is not always fun, but it's necessary when collaborating on a project.
It's important for marketers to understand what is considered constructive feedback and what is deemed useless so designers can produce the best possible results.
Completely ripping apart a designer's work won't create better designs. On the other hand, giving too little feedback won't be very helpful either. Instead, website owners, project managers and the like should find a happy medium between being too critical and too passive. Leaning too much on one approach will only damage the relationship and fail to get the design where it needs to be.
Here are five mistakes to avoid when giving feedback to a designer:
1. Demanding Instead of Explaining
Demanding changes is easy; the difficult part is explaining why something needs to be fixed. It's difficult for a designer to understand what's wrong with a specific aspect of the design if all that is said is "remove this image" or "make that orange instead of red." When providing feedback, make sure to evaluate the problem and clarify why it needs to be changed. This allows the designer to come up with an alternative, more suitable design. Doing so also helps designers gauge what the manager likes and what appeals to customers, which is helpful for future projects.
2. Being Too Vague
Stakeholders shouldn't expect designers to know exactly what they're thinking. If feedback is unclear, the designer is left trying to determine what is actually expected of them. Everyone needs to be specific and tell the designer (or design team) what works and what doesn't. It's better to be straightforward with feedback rather than waste time going through multiple rounds of edits.
To avoid vague feedback, try using the phrase "it's too..." If there's a particular area of the design that needs some work, use those words to complement the feedback. For instance, saying something is "too distracting" is much more helpful than saying "I don't like this." It's easier for a designer to rework a certain aspect than entirely redesign it. It's crucial to be as specific as possible so designers can figure out the best approach to take going forward.
3. Having Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
When working with a large group of people, project managers risk running into the issue of too many conflicting opinions. Essentially, it is easy to start losing sight of the main objective when each person contributes their own individual preferences and viewpoints. It's not the designer's job to please everyone, so it's essential a team focuses solely on the components with the most reasoning.
If one person says, "I don't like the font," that won't help the designer decide what the entire group or even the brand's customers want. However, if the group as a whole agrees that the font is "too simple," or "it won't appeal to customers" then it is an issue to bring up with the designer. Don't let personal opinions get in the way of the overall design goal.
4. Dwelling on the Negatives
While it's important to determine what isn't working, managers shouldn't place too much emphasis on what they don't like. Try to provide at least three positive comments so the designer knows what works and has some idea of what direction to take.
5. Being Disrespectful
It's easy to get consumed by a project, from the constant communication to the countless edits to the time dedicated to making the finished product, but that's no excuse to throw manners out the window. Everyone involved in the project should feel comfortable enough to voice their thoughts and opinions. There may be a certain part of a design one person doesn't like, but that doesn't mean he or she has to tear the whole thing apart. Instead, approach the situation in a more constructive manner. It's important to be honest with a designer, but also be respectful.
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