How to give actional feedback in 5 easy steps
- The Bad Sandwich–Part 1:
Always start and end with something positive. The sticky bit should be in the middle, like a PB&J. This helps the designer/agency stay open and available to the critical feedback you deliver. So start with something kind.
EX: “I like how you came up with vastly different solutions to the problem!”
- What is the Designer’s JOB?
Design is functional and solves problems, which is what separates it from fine art. Clearly establish the “job” of the particular design. Understand the goal. Be specific. Communicate the specifics. Don’t be general or vague.
EX: “This design should clearly communicate the following hierarchy: 1. Brand personality, which is X; 2. The top benefit of Y; 3. The emotional pay-off, which is Z–to the target audience of women 18-24 who are interested in wellness.
- Hits & Misses:
When giving feedback about which aspects of the design achieve the goals or miss the mark- be sure to avoid subjective or evaluative statements. Any comments on aesthetics should be explained in the context of the strategic goals. Clearly outlining the problem gives the designer a chance to solve it (in the next step).
EX: Instead of “I don’t like that orange” or “that orange is ugly” you could say “this target demographic is typically drawn to a softer color palette” or “the orange in that area is so bright it’s drawing my eye to the wrong part of the design and taking away from the core message”
Give feedback, but don’t be too prescriptive. Allow the designer to develop their own solution. The creative brain is a thing of beauty, it may devise a solution that would never have occurred to you. Our tactical advice: provide visuals! In other words, mark up a screenshot with arrows and text so your comments are directly related to the area of the design they are intended for. This will alleviate confusion and misunderstanding.
EX: “The jagged lines feel harsh and disruptive- can you try something more subtle and organic? Something like this example X could be one direction to explore”
- Bad Sandwich–Part 2:
Thank them. This is the other piece of bread on your bad sandwich. The agency or designer will be much more receptive to you and your feedback if you acknowledge their efforts. Also, let’s all just be nice people, right?
EX: “Thanks for all your hard work on this, I know we’ll nail it next round.”