Knowing how to give feedback to your designer is crucial to the progress of a project. When you are required to get approval from multiple people, feedback can become a sea that you and your designer will drown in. However, there are ways to navigate that sea.
Tip #1: Have A Unifying Vision
Before bringing anyone in to do work for you, make sure you have your vision and goal(s) set. The more unified the team, the better the overall project and process will go. Know the gameplan and what you’re trying to achieve. The designer is more likely to be successful when the goal is clearly defined as early as possible. Creative clarity is always important to have from the very beginning. Keep in mind that the unifying vision shouldn’t be at the whim of any one person’s personal preference but at the whim of the overall goal. This vision must be kept at the forefront of the minds of all parties involved, moving forward.
Tip #2: Be/Have A Point Person
Make sure the team selects a point person to be the main contact for your designer. This person will be the liaison between the designer and the rest of the team. Don’t let various members of the team shout changes to your designer at any given time. That could get overwhelming to the designer and make the process very choppy and unfocused. One person should be the collector of all the feedback and the main communicator with the designer.
Tip #3: Be Organized
Filter and organize the feedback for your designer. Some feedback will be repeated. Some people may even contradict each other, depending on how unified the team is (see Tip #1). In your meeting with your squad, collect all the thoughts of the people present and discuss those thoughts. Condense everything to an organized bullet point list of changes and comments. When I’m working with a team of clients, I ask for all feedback to be given at once in a single e-mail. It helps me to see it all at once and neatly itemized. I want to make all the necessary changes at once rather than change some things then get other changes later from feedback I wasn’t expecting.
Don’t let the project become another design by committee statistic. It is possible to come to the proper design solution that satisfies the team need with proper execution and communication.
Chances are the first attempt at a design solution won’t be a home run. On the first go round, I usually have no problem shooting in the dark. Sometimes, people need to see something before they can explain what direction they want to go in. Seeing something visually can spark ideas. However, the amount of time playing the guessing game should be kept to a minimum. Creative clarity is more important than creative freedom. Clarity requires proper communication. So, here are some tips on how to communicate feedback to a designer.
Tip #1: Be As Specific As Possible
Provide context. Try to refrain some simply saying you don’t like a concept. Explain why you don’t like it. Provide examples that suggest more of the direction you’d like to see the project go toward. In my client questionnaire, I included a section that asks for the potential client to provide examples (from in and outside of my portfolio) that hint at what they’d like to see.
Tip #2: Be Inquisitive
Ask questions of the designer. You may be confused about a design decision and clarity on that decision may give you a better perspective. Learning the why sometimes can change a person’s mind on a design. Be open to discussion and seek to gain insight. Your vision and the designer’s expertise must come together for the project to work. A desire to understand and a spirit of cooperation are absolutely crucial.
Tip #3: Be Honest
Be upfront about what you want. Be honest yet respectful. Appreciate the time that went into creating the concept(s) but don’t be afraid to reveal what you don’t like. We want you to be satisfied with the service we provide. We can deal with honest, constructive feedback because it makes not only the project but us better at what we do.
Feedback is necessary to reach the ultimate goal. Designers and clients must be open-minded and listen to one another.
I prefer collaboration over dictation.
I’m not a tool. I’m a teammate. Whether you are the designer or the client, the best result comes with you are working together. Teammates value what each brings to the table and allows each other to flourish within their skillset. As a designer, I am not here to just execute someone else’s vision. I’m here to use my professional expertise to help produce the right design solution for the client’s goal(s).
Collaboration needs fluid, frequent, and effective communication. It requires and develops trust between all parties. Mutual respect of what each is bringing to table enhances the experience and amplifies the joy of the working relationship. When everyone feels valued and everyone is invested, the chances of success increase exponentially. The best work comes from the best teams and those teams are more likely to want to work together again in the future.
Designers must listen to their clients. It’s their brand/project they are investing their money in. You won’t know what path needs to be taken without conversations and research. Even though you’re the designer, those conversations could spark something within you that leads to the solution. Clients need to listen to their designers. The designers are the experts in the field you need. The designer will provide you with a professional perspective you need. Together, you can ask the necessary questions and answer them all with combined creativity and clarity.
Collaboration also occurs designer to designer. For example, let’s say there is a large visual brand identity project on the table. One designer may not have all the skills to execute the solution. Within the design community, there are specialists. An illustrator may be brought in to work with a user interface designer or a website designer. Collaboration requires you to know your strengths and being willing to trust those who have strengths you don’t.
The north star is the goal. Everything that is done is to serve that end. Put ego aside, amplify self-awareness, and value the expertise of others. Teamwork does indeed make the dream work.