Top 5 tips on giving good design feedback
How to give professional design feedback
Professional web designers understand how crucial client feedback is to the creative process. While web design involves equal amounts of creativity, talent, and technical know-how, building a truly successful website that meets your goals also requires a collaborative and respectful dialogue between you and your designer. This is where the knowledge on how to give good design feedback comes into play.
That said, communicating your needs, opinions, and wants to your web designer can be an unfamiliar experience—that’s why it’s so important to prepare for your feedback sessions.
Your designer, despite their experience and expertise, still relies heavily on your opinion and insights when creating the perfect product. If you have design feedback questions, keep reading. In this guide, we’ll discuss our top five tips for how to give feedback to designers.
#1 Work from a place of trust
Like all healthy and productive relationships, the one between you and your website designer should be built on a foundation of:
Trust is perhaps the most important quality of any successful client-designer relationship. When you trust your designer, you’re able to give them creative freedom, space to produce their best work, and opportunities for exciting designs that they may not have otherwise arrived at.
And this process should be a collaborative one. You and your designer both have very different, though equally important, roles to play, and you each bring necessary skills to the table.
So, when giving website design feedback, begin with the faith that your designer is invested in and capable of building you the best website possible. Remember, feedback in design goes a long way, so make sure to trust your designer’s:
- Intentions – You’ve both entered this collaboration to build a website that reflects your brand’s unique ethos and meets its unique challenges. Trust that your designer has your best interests in mind, and that any creative misalignments are due to simple misunderstanding rather than malice or apathy.
- Capabilities – If web design were easy, you’d do it yourself. Have faith in the skills and experience your designer brings to the table. When reviewing their designs, be open to their interpretation and creative input before expressing your thoughts.
#2 Put clarity and specificity at the forefront
Collaboration thrives on clear communication and specific input. When giving design feedback, always be as clear as possible. With clear, precise criticisms and instructions, your designer will be able to fully understand and capture your vision, giving you a better end product in less time. That includes using specific language and details rather than clichés or generalizations.
If you’re still figuring out how to give good website design feedback, here are some ideas to provide specific, helpful notes:
Pinpoint individual elements – We often hear phrases like “make it pop,” but a design that “pops” is subjective—it’s more of a reflection of your feelings toward it than anything innate to the visuals themselves. Here are some concrete notes that might encapsulate what you really mean to say:
- “I want more contrast between the background and foreground colors so that the designs are clearly noticeable.”
- “I wish the colors were more vibrant. I don’t think pastels and neutrals encompass the energy of my brand.”
- “I’d love to see more unique shapes. The square boxes and buttons are too uniform, and lack that zany quality that I mentioned earlier.”
Tell them what you’d like to see more and less of – Tell your designer what you want and love about a design, in addition to what you don’t. For example, “I’m not loving the icons. I’d like to see a curvier, more abstract style, and I wish the typeface had fewer straight lines and square edges to match.” If you don’t know the exact technical terms, that’s okay—describe a feeling or impression you wish you had.
Explain why you don’t like something – Although your personal taste will certainly play a part in what you bring to the design process, it’s best to pair any personal judgments with descriptive reasoning. Be specific about what elements you’re not sure about. Are the colors too bright? Does the large font feel aggressive? Do you find the art style too abstract? This will give your designer a better idea of what changes to make.
#3 Provide visual examples
How to give feedback to designers, who may be more used to a visual representation of their tasks? Sometimes, words fall short, or we don’t have the right ones to express our ideas. And in the world of design, being unfamiliar with the industry terminology can pose additional barriers.
Beyond that, words are highly subjective. Bold, splashy, elegant, exciting, dramatic—each person that reads this list will imagine different aesthetics, even though they’re all looking at the same descriptors.
The workaround? Visual examples.
If you’re having trouble giving clear and specific verbal feedback, consider using visual feedback. You can show your designer examples of what you like by referencing:
- Website designs you admire
- Color schemes that appeal to you
- Specific website elements you want to incorporate
When providing visual examples, don’t forget to include the why in specific terms:
- “I like this website because it gives off a sense of professionalism. It’s very clean, simple, and uncluttered, especially the straight lines and basic geometric shapes.”
- “I love this color palette because the contrasting colors draw my eye to the most important sections,” or “The cool tones encompass that feeling of calm I was talking about, but the warm pinks and reds still exhibit a playfulness that I really like.”
- “I like this company’s use of abstract icons as opposed to hyperliteral ones. I think it embodies our brand’s creative, expressive identity, but I want the representations to still be clear to our users, so that’s one aspect I would change about this example.”
These are just a few examples of how to give website design using visual examples. When you give your designer suggestions and clear examples to work from, you provide them a better idea of exactly what you’re looking for. This can streamline and optimize the design process, leading to a website that aligns with your needs.
#4 Offer Context
How to give feedback on a website design that is both insightful and explanatory? One of the key aspects you should consider here, is the critical role of context. When it comes to how to give good design feedback, make sure to understand that every aspect of your website design needs to be crafted with the specific goals, challenges, and trends of your business in mind.
And when it comes to your business and its unique needs and challenges, you’re the expert. That’s why it’s important that you play an active role in the creation of your website.
To ensure your designer can achieve your exact vision, it’s helpful to:
- Identify your goals – Make sure that both you and your designer are clear about your business goals, what success looks like for you, and how you expect your website to help you get there. You should tackle these details at the very beginning of the project. For example, you might want a simple design interface because your audience is mostly elderly, or maybe you want to stand out with a highly vibrant and dynamic website because you face a lot of industry competition.
- Align feedback with your goals – When giving feedback, make sure to keep your goals at the forefront of your mind—and your motivations. Any suggestion you give should align with the intention of achieving those goals. When you tell them the homepage is “too crowded,” for instance, explain that you think more white space will help your specific audience process the information and navigate the layout.
- Remain objective – To the extent possible, try to remain focused on what’s best for your brand, rather than your personal tastes or aesthetics. Ask yourself, “Will this change better achieve our goals and overall vision?” This is also the perfect time to solicit your designer’s input on that very question—tell them the challenge you’re hoping to solve and identify together how you can go about that.
#5 Give your designer space to create their best work
Throughout the design process, you’ll work closely with your designer to build your website. But you should always allow them the time, space, and creative freedom they need to bring your articulated vision to life.
This goes back to trusting your designer’s expertise, as well as respecting them as a professional: you hired them to do a job they’re trained to do, now allow them to flourish.
Still, the balance between taking part in the process and taking over can be a difficult one to strike. Here are a couple of tips for how to give design feedback without micromanaging the process:
- Give thoughts, not solutions – In the collaboration between you and your designer, your job is to identify the problems and possibilities within the design. The responsibility for solving those problems and actualizing the potential falls on the designer. Try not to couple your feedback with prescribed solutions. Instead, be clear about what you’d like to see and where the current design falls short, then let the designer arrive at the solution.
- Focus on the big picture – There’s a fine line between giving your designer enough feedback to work with and providing them with an in-depth analysis of every minor detail. Try to assess the design as a whole rather than fixating on microscopic design intricacies, unless you feel strongly that they don’t align with your idea of your brand—then communicate openly until they understand why.
- Ask questions – Don't hesitate to ask your designers some design feedback questions. There’s a lot about the process that’ll likely be foreign to you but familiar to them, so don’t be afraid to defer to your designer’s expertise. Asking questions will show that you trust them and are willing to share the reins of the project. This, in turn, will further encourage them to share their own unique ideas.
- Allow time for creation – Your designer has a large undertaking in front of them. To fully understand your vision and needs, they may ask a lot of questions, and they might seek further clarification before delivering a mock-up. In the moment, this can make the process feel longer—in reality, it saves them from spending time on the wrong design. By taking their time and requesting specific information upfront, they’ll be able to incorporate your ideas into the first version, streamlining the entire design experience.
For An Agency That Builds With You, Choose Adchitects
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That’s where Adchitects comes in.
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