Posted by: ADsevenfour | May 4, 2010

Tips on how to get useful design feedback


Ok, we all know everyone is a designer.
The clients wife’s would prefer pink. Can’t we just change the logo? My friend who knows about colour theory …

I have worked in the design industry for well over 10 years, read numerous articles on the subject and discussed it whilst drunk, sober and stoned amongst respected collegues, clients and anyone who would listen. This is the best insight I can give anyone …

1. Make sure you know who the client is.

Feedback is always welcome as long as it is constructive, understandable consistent. Making sure you are talking to the right person will save you time, money and a lot of stress. If the person you are talking too has to pass everything to their boss for approval, you are probably talking to the wrong person. If you are getting feedback from more than one person, you need to push back and make sure that the feedback is a collaboration between multiple people and that it has been refined and approved before being passed onto you. It’s always advisable (if possible) to have all the names of the people on the project up front, preferably on the brief document for you to refer to at any point.

2. Be specific.

Make sure that there is no ambiguity in what is being asked. Clear and simple is the rule. If the questions are in an email, highlight them. Even better if you can show a visual example, print outs with post-it notes, clear notes, digital docs (pdf’s, word docs, psds etc etc) with annotations on, what ever you can do to reduce any confusion that could waste time and therefore damage your relationship with the client.

3. Know your audience.

Make sure you are have all related documentation, guideline documents, best practice, specification docs etc, at hand when talking through any feedback, as this may contradict something defined by the clients own documentation, and be prepared to argue your case for guidelines, best practices or anything that you know will cause development issues.

4. Never show your designs without content.

Lorem Ipsum, is one of, if not THE greatest problem that we face on a daily basis. Placeholder text should only be included as placeholder text. Any ‘final’ design including this should not be shown or referred to as ‘final’. It detracts from showing the client what his / her site will actually look like in reality, it doesn’t allow for long page / content titles, call to actions which don’t adhere to the brand guidelines, show how the CMS actually manages content. The worst offender of them all is where Lorem Ipsum has been used for navigation, it means that the Information Architecture hasn’t been finalised and therefore there is a very high chance that what you are designing will have to be redone anyway, when the client realises that the content doesn’t fit the structure of the page.
Remember, content is king. It always has been.

5. Use an online documentation tool.

There are numerous varients along the same theme, the premise is simple, logging feedback and asigning tasks to the relevant parties involved in the project. This is a really good way of making sure that everything is trackable by person, date and time. Emails are generated and items assigned to individuals or groups and are viewable by anyone that has access to the account. This becomes invaluable when trying to discover how, why or when something has become an issue, everything is logged and trackable.
Personally I would recommend Get SignOff: http://hello.getsignoff.com/ or Basecamp: http://basecamphq.com/

Afterthought:

Remember that feedback is not a personal attack on you. It is a necessity to achieving what the client / end user wants or needs. As long as the feedback is clear and precise it will help to achieve the end goal. No-one ever got it right first time, it just doesn’t happen. Learning to deal with feedback is a skill in itself, but once you understand it is a means to progress both you and your work, then it becomes an invaluable asset.

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