Tips and Tools for Providing Constructive Feedback on Design

- Maureen Dillon 04.09.2015


Providing feedback to your designer is an important part of a successful design project. Without feedback, the designer may assume that you approve of everything that's been done and he/she will proceed along the same lines. The end result is dissatisfaction on all sides. Your designer cannot adjust his/her work to meet your expectations with a clear idea of what those are. This can, and should, be avoided. However, the feedback you provided should be constructive, helping your designer understand what you are looking for. Your feedback should help project the image of the design that you have in your mind clearly to your designer.

Tips for Providing Feedback Effectively

The following tips will enable you to provide constructive feedback. This helps the designer to deliver a completed project that conforms to your specifications and the image in your mind:

  • Be honest, but not rude: There are times when you may feel the need to beat around the bush in order to avoid hurting the feelings of the person you are speaking with. But, in your professional relationships with your employees, giving feedback should not be like walking on eggshells. However, this does not mean that you can be rude. Be honest. Designers are professionals and telling them that you don't like some aspect of their design in an honest, respectful way isn't going to hurt their feelings. It is an occupational hazard for them and they deal with it all the time.
  • Be specific: Telling your designer “I don't like this design” does not constitute feedback. You are just stating your opinion. Tell them exactly what you don't like. Tell them what needs to be changed and what it needs to be changed to.
  • Keep your goals in mind: When you provide feedback, keep in mind what your site is trying to achieve. When you ask your designer to change something, tell them why. Tell your goals to your designer. Let them know why you feel the current design will not help you achieve your goals and what you think needs to be done to achieve those goals.
  • Take their suggestions into consideration: If your designer gives you suggestions, don't just dismiss them out of hand. Remember, your website has a purpose. Ask your designer if any of their suggestions will enable you to achieve your goals better than your own suggestions. Request them to back it up with data or discussion.
  • Avoid conflicting feedback: Unless you want a mohawk, you wouldn't tell your hair stylist that you want to be both bald and have long hair. Even if you do want a mohawk, you wouldn't tell your hair stylist that you want to be both bald and have long hair. Who knows how what you would end up with. For the exact same reason, you should avoid making conflicting statements while providing feedback to your designer. Your designer may be able to work with slightly divergent ideas, but striaght out opposites are not going to work. If you have a vision that has elements of conflict or paradox, or similarly internally complex undertones, be incredibly clear about that and what you're hoping to acheive. In some cases, it may be better to avoid such situations.
  • Keep one point of contact: No one can please everybody. This is true for designers too. To this end, ensure that your designer meets with the same person from your team every single time. This way, you can reduce the instances of conflicting feedback. Everyone has personal opinions and biases and your designer shouldn't get caught between two opposing ones. Also, iron out any and all issues your team members may have regarding the design internally before you give the feedback.
  • Don't let your personal preferences cloud your judgment: Speaking of biases, when giving feedback to your designer, try to judge the design objectively. It doesn't matter if you don't like the color blue, what matters is if the color melds with the design and if your customers will like it. The aim of the design is not to please you; it is to keep your customers happy. If blue helps you to meet your business goals better than your favorite color, so be it. However, if your favorite color would indeed be the better choice, then make sure your designer knows it and makes the necessary changes.

Tools to Provide Feedback

There are several visual feedback tools available that enable you to convey your feedback to your designer in a manner that will reduce misunderstanding. Some of these tools are:

InVision LiveCapture allows you to collaborate with your designer during the development process using this. The designer takes screenshots of the web page and sends it to you. You can then provide detailed feedback. LiveCapture is available as an extension for Google Chrome. It is available in both free and paid options.

BugMuncher: You can avail of its 30-day free trial before you have to start paying (currently starting at $19/month). It is a great visual feedback tool that lets you highlight areas of webpages and describe the changes that need to be made. The tool then takes a screenshot of the area and sends it, and your comments, to your designer (whose email you need to provide).

TrackDuck: Great for providing real time feedback, the tool allows you to highlight areas of the site that need changing and comment on it. Whenever you do this, your designer will be notified immediately. It is available on multiple browsers.

Notable: This is a web application that allows you to take a screenshot of whatever part of the site needs modifications, draw a box around the specific region, and provide your feedback. Currently, you can try it for free for 30 days.

There are also several other tools available like DesignDrop, BugHerd, Conceptboard and Notism. Every tool will have its own pros and cons. You may have to try a few before you settle on one which both you and your designer are comfortable with. Using these tools is a great way to point out specific problems in your design and letting your designer know what needs to be done.

However, along with this, you should always take your designer through your feedback. Don't just write, have a meeting (in person or a video call) with your designer to talk about your feedback. You don't want to give scope for your designer to misinterpret your feedback. Ask them how they intend to proceed and settle on a plan of action.

The feedback you give your designer should be constructive. It should always provide specifics that will help your designer to design a site that not only conforms to the image you have in mind but also helps you to achieve your business goals.

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