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Ten steps to giving your designer better feedback

Any good project is made better by collaboration and the design process is no different. So how do you give good feedback without stepping on the toes of your designers or compromising on what you want? It can be difficult to find the right balance in your feedback but it really is just a matter of being focused, honest and kind.

1. Know What You Want

If you’ve walked into the design process without a clear idea of what you want, there is no way you can give good feedback. It’s a bit like sending your designer off to search for treasure without a map. They can use their instinct, but it will only get them so far. If you don’t know what you want – how can they?

2. Minimise Personal Bias

It’s important to know what you want, it’s less important to know what you like. If you are seeing a designer on behalf of your business, it’s time to let go of your personal tastes. Your designer’s mission is to create something that really sends your business message out into the world, visually – not to inject your personal style into your business. Expressing your personal opinions can be really helpful, just make sure your business goals aren’t being put on the backburner as a result.

3. Have Clear Goals

Having set goals for what you want to achieve through the design process is important. Just like the distracted driver tends to swerve when their eyes are not fixed straight ahead, you will be more likely to follow tangents with your designer if you aren’t focused. You came to a designer for a reason; make sure you fulfill that reason.

4. Be Flexible

Having a goal is essential, but being blinkered to other possibilities can also be dangerous. Make sure you are open to new ideas; your designer’s job is to think outside the box and they may have input that you have never considered before. Instead of being stubborn in font choices or positioning, be open and willing to trying out new ways of doing things.

5. Don’t Be Shy

Stop worrying over being too critical.  Speak up early and speak up often. If you aren’t giving feedback often, you could end up with an end product that you’re unhappy with and a far more awkward confrontation with a designer who was under the impression you were happy. Being honest will save you time in the long run.

6. Constructive Criticism

Criticism is welcomed – designers are used to it, after all – but rudeness and negativity is not always so easily received. Taking the focus solely off the mistakes made and pinpointing what can be improved or refined, will ultimately make the design stronger and be beneficial for the collaborative relationship. 

7. Be Specific

So much of a designer’s job already revolves around conveying a ‘feeling’, which can be difficult to pin down. Throughout the design process, mention what you do or don’t like and what it is that makes you feel that way – being specific will help your designer get a clearer idea of what you’re aiming for.

8. Remember the Pro!

Your feedback regarding the design work is highly valued, but often, many people take this to mean that they are entitled to give feedback on the way that the designer is performing their job. It may be tempting to micro-manage, but keep in mind that they are the professionals – telling them how to do their job may result in getting them offside.  Keep in mind, they’re good at their job, that’s why you hired them.

9. Create Discussion

The design process is already a discussion, with constant refinement needed and feedback being given. It might seem obvious, but instead of sending your feedback through in an email, meet in person or talk on the phone. It’s difficult to convey tone in writing, but an actual discussion will mean that you can get your point across clearly and there’s less chance of your ideas being misconstrued by your designer.

10. Ask Questions

Feedback does not have to be a one-way street – ask your designer what they think. They’ve been doing this job for long enough to know what works, asking them for their two cents might give you valuable insight.

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