Leading by example

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Feedback recipients want to learn why their designs are not “good” and WANT the feedback raw and truthful. Yet, we must also consider how we evaluate the designs.  Mastering our emotions (being non-reactive) and being willing to explore the design with the objectives in mind, keeps our conversation useful to the recipient. Doing so, allows us to be clear and concise when we evaluate, …

Ground feedback based on objectives

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What is “good” or “bad” design?   Is Craiglist an example of “good” design? Craiglist is a successfully UGLY product that works well. Design can only be “good” or “bad” based on if it meets the objectives of it’s users and the business.    Thus, great designers can articulate WHY the design is off and back up their evaluation  based on objectives (persona, scenarios, …

Seek to Understand

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Once you’ve taken a few breathes, start to ASK QUESTIONS to learn more about how a designer was thinking about the design decisions.  “Why” questions become invaluable for discovering intentions. Questions like: Curious to know, why did you choose this color? Why did you consider this feature over another? Tell me, why did you go in their direction? Asking questions like this …

Holding Off Reactions

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“I don’t like it” “It doesn’t make sense!”  “This is sh*t.” When people react, they can react verbally or non-verbally.  Whether we like it or not, the reaction tells us something about their view of our design. Great designers when giving feedback, hold off reactions.  When they are asked for feedback, they take some time to slow down and think. …

What NOT to do: rattling off problems

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“Expert” designers (designers with 10+ years of experience) become REALLY REALLY good at evaluating designs.  They can spot when a design is “off”.  Really great designers are able to “see” all these problems all at once (like Neo in the matrix, yes quite a nerdy reference). They can tell you why grey isn’t a good choice for a color, or why your feature …

The goal with feedback

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What is our goal when we give feedback?  We want to improve the design in some way.  Additionally, we want to high quality designs without demoralizing the recipient of the feedback. Indeed, whether we’re too “soft” or too “hard”, the intention is clear: we want them to stay motivated and continue keep refining their work so the product output is …

Indirect vs. Direct Feedback

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When I was a design instructor, I often had to give feedback to many students on their design projects in a short time frame. I had to evaluate what is “good” or “bad” design and give appropriate feedback fitting the project, student skill set, and phase of their learning. And, the truth is, it’s a delicate balancing act. Being too …

How to Give Design Feedback

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There used to be an old joke in the design community: “you can always tell a junior designer from a more senior one.  When giving feedback, a junior designer nods, smiles,  thanks you…and then proceeds to the bathroom to go cry.” Receiving feedback is a core part of being a designer and you develop “tough skin” over time.  But giving …