At the start of a design project, the blank slate that lies ahead can be both exciting and daunting. As designers with so many design choices available, we begin filling the space by making a series of design decisions, in attempt to shape a message that will resonate with the intended audience. Then, in the middle of a flow, we must stop and share our unfinished work with colleagues or clients.
This typical step in the creative process makes me ask how do we use this feedback to improve our creative output?
Using Critique as a Key Tool in The Creative Process
Design critique is helpful in allowing the exchange of various thoughts and professional insights. Constructive criticism can redirect the overall message and help figure out what it is that needs to be communicated. It’s important to realize that critiques are supposed to improve the design process, not create difficulties.
A good design critique should:
Familiarize Clients With The Creative Process
Critiques enlighten business owners on the creative process. The more clients understand, the more productive their feedback. The more productive the feedback, the more efficient the design process will be.
Allow Others To Help, Teach And Guide
It’s nice to build a collaborative design team so that all key players and decision makers can have a say in the business goals, implemented strategies and outcome.
Offer Inspiration And New Perspective
Think of a critique as a way to connect dots. Each person involved in a critique brings a lot to the table in their own right. By each person remaining independent in their standpoint and properly expressing their experience, constellations are made. This is how small ideas develop into big ideas and big ideas become reality.
Common Issues With Design Critiques
Can Be Overly Time-Consuming
Designs executed for marketing must properly engage intended audiences and accomplish specific goals. Getting there isn’t always a straightforward process. Every time project members exchange and share insights, the project value goes up. If team communication is not adding value, it is important to realize that. Sometimes, it’s best for each member to brainstorm separately for a while and then regroup.
Lack of Clarity
Ask specific questions to collect clear feedback. For example, instead of saying you like or don’t like something, say specifically what about it you like or dislike (the typography, photography, color choice).
Domination Over Collaboration
A good design critique is conversational. Comments should sound more like suggestions than orders. When commands are given without explanation, the message in the design becomes weakened because the designer had no real ownership over the design decisions. It is important for everyone to listen before speaking. Then, assertively voice your opinions in a way so the other decision makers can understand the various points of view being made. Together, everyone can work toward creating a solution.
Being Too Subjective in Personal Preference
Our interpretations influence feedback. Try to separate subjective comments from objective ones to offer meaningful feedback instead of just your personal preference. (Example: “I don’t like purple.”) Instead of asking what people think, ask them what the target audience for the project might think. (Would they, too, not like purple?)