Pa Pq Pr

PQP (Praise Question Polish)

Monish Subherwal

What is it:

PQP is a often used in classrooms used to give students feedback.  Here, I’ve adapted it to the context of objectives to give designers feedback.

When to use:

During any meetings where design critique is happening.

How It Works:

– Step 1:  Praise

The worst thing that happens is when someone works hard on a design, presents it, and get really mean feedback.  While more seasoned designers have more ‘tough-skin’, we’re all human beings so a little appreciation goes a long way.

So how do we praise a designer effectively?  Superficial praise is “this looks great” or “this is coming along alright.”  These praises are basically a reactive way of saying “this is BLAH – and I’m too cool to take the time to evaluate this design and see what works here.”

A few things are needed to make the Praise phase work:  authenticity, objectivity, and specificity.

  • Authenticity:  You MUST be authentic in your praise and the more objective, the better.  Don’t praise something you don’t think works or is effective.
  • Objectivity:  Design tends to be highly subjective, so a person who can stop themselves from jumping to an opinion will gain a TREMENDOUS amount of respect from their peers.  How to remain objective?  You must evaluate the design based on objectives – which leads us to the specificity part.
  • Specificity:  State which element or part of the design interaction worked for an objective.

Examples of Praise done right:

  • “This works because it meets this standard…” [refer to objective]
  • “My favorite part is…”  [refer to objective]
  • “You were really clear about…” [refer to objective]

– Step 2:  Question.

Ask helpful questions.  So what is a helpful question?  Any question that allows the other person to think about whether or not their design meets the objectives or not.

TIP:  I find it works best to avoid a lot of direct feedback immediately unless you have lots of rapport.  When we continue to give direct feedback, the recipient can begin to hear how their design “sucks” over and over again and shut down (example: “use a larger heading size here, change the order of these items, this isn’t the right color change it”) .  Not only that, being directive feels challenging and makes the recipient evaluate the quality of your suggestion and possibly become more situated in their position.   Critique done properly should be an exploration, an inquiry.  Step 3 is when we can offer more direct feedback.

Examples of Question done well:

  • “Could you help me to see how this addresses our the user’s need for saving time?”
  • “Our top business goal is to increase revenue, how might we place suggested products another way to sell more?”
  • What other options did you consider for [aspect/element]?
  • Why did you choose this [aspect/element]?
  • Were there any influencers or constraints that affected your choices?
  • Can you tell me more about what your objectives were for [specific aspect or element of design]

– Step 3:  Polish

Here is where you can give your direct suggestions for improvement (AFTER you’ve asked the designer a question).

Again, a suggestion based on objectives are better than just your opinion.

Examples of Polish done well:

  • “Have you considered…?”
  • “ If you added/addressed/provided information about this, it would address the following objective…”