Effective feedback can turn a good design into a great design
Client feedback is one of the most important parts of any design process. That’s why most graphic designers make a point to ask for feedback early and often. Feedback is an opportunity for me to check in with you, the client. To hear your opinions. To make sure you’re happy. To keep us both on the same page making sure the graphic design project is heading in the right direction.
A few simple guidelines is all it takes to craft great design feedback.
Whether you communicate in person, over the phone, or via email, these tips will ensure that your graphic designer understands your needs so you get the design that suits the brief and target audience.
1. Be specific with your design feedback
Don’t be vague with your design feedback instead try being direct. Ambiguous phrases like “make it pop” or “it’s too bland” are difficult to interpret.
Design is subjective. What “pops” to you and what “pops” to your designer could be two different things. You might think “pop” means brighter colours. I might think “pop” means bigger and bolder fonts – more contrast in the design. Do you see how this can cause problems and can be misinterpreted?
Don’t expect your graphic designer to know what you mean. Be specific so they don’t have to guess. Tell your graphic designer exactly what you like and don’t like about the design. Is it the font? The colours? The imagery? Specific language is harder to misinterpret. Your graphic designer is more likely to understand your concerns if you can point out exactly what’s bothering you.
2. Don’t micro-manage your graphic designer
Present your graphic designer with the problem, not just the solution. Telling your graphic designer to “make the title bigger” doesn’t give them any context. Your graphic designer has no understanding of the problem. They know that you want the title to be bigger. But they don’t know why you want it to be bigger.
By presenting your graphic designer with the problem, they can understand the why. When they understand the why, they can suggest solutions that you may not have thought of. Maybe you want the title to be bigger because it’s too small to read. In this case, making it bigger is probably the best solution.
But what if the problem is that it doesn’t stand out from the rest of the text on the page? In this case, there are many solutions: make the font bigger, use a different font, change the colour, create white space around the title, etc. “Make the title bigger,” isn’t the only solution to this problem. And it might not be the best solution, either.
Tell your graphic designer about the problem you’re having, and trust them to fix it. It’s okay to offer a solution. Just be sure to explain the problem as well so your designer has the chance to weigh in on the decision.
3. Give examples
You’re not a graphic designer, so it can be difficult to express your opinions about design. I get it. But you don’t have to know design lingo to talk about design. If you’re having a hard time finding the right words, use visual examples to illustrate your point. So don’t be afraid to use your resources. Your graphic designer will thank you for providing screenshots and links as an example.
4. Keep your feedback balanced
When asked for feedback, people have a tendency to focus only on the negatives. I think this is because most people view design feedback as a chance to make corrections. So if something doesn’t need correcting, they don’t bother mentioning it.
Don’t get me wrong, negative feedback is extremely important. But positive feedback is important too. Positive feedback gives your designer concrete examples of what is working so they can continue to move in the right direction. This actually makes it easier to address the negative feedback. Aside from that, people just like to receive compliments. Giving your designer positive feedback every now and again is an easy way to keep your working relationship healthy.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions
Feedback should be an open discussion, not just a list of changes that you send off to your graphic designer. Asking thoughtful questions creates a dialogue. I’ve heard clients say that they don’t ask questions because they don’t want to annoy the designer. In reality, it’s the exact opposite.
When it comes to design feedback, there are no stupid or annoying questions. Asking questions shows the graphic designer that you value their opinion and that you’re invested in the project. If you don’t understand something that your graphic designer did, ask them about it. This gives them the opportunity to explain the rationale behind their design choices. You’ll understand things better as a result, and they’ll appreciate your interest.
6. Graphic Designers are used to receiving feedback
I’d be over the moon if you loved the design so much that you didn’t want to change a thing. Realistically, though, that doesn’t happen often. A little criticism won’t hurt our feelings as long as it’s direct and honest. You should feel comfortable sharing both positive and negative design feedback. That said, don’t forget that designers are people too. Opening your work up to feedback is a vulnerable process, even for professionals.
Be thoughtful about the way you frame your design feedback. Make sure the feedback is about the design, not the graphic designer. An easy way to do this is avoid using “you” in your design feedback. Constructive criticism is helpful. Personal insults are hurtful.