Bryan Zmijewski is the Chief Instigator at ZURB, an interaction design firm that has helped 100+ startups design better products & services. ZURB is the creator of Notable, the easiest way for teams to give website feedback.
According to the recent Netcraft survey, there are over 200 million websites on the Internet today, all trying to communicate their value and stand out in the crowd. Despite a vast difference in the things these websites are expressing, they’ve all faced similar issues during the design process.
One of the major challenges for designers is the difficulty in soliciting feedback from team members and clients. After all, we’re emotionally invested in our work, and it’s hard to separate constructive negative feedback from what feels like outright rejection. We want to serve our clients and coworkers, but at the same time, we don’t want to disrupt our own creative vision. It can quickly become a frustrating communication issue for everyone involved.
Here are five tips for designers to solicit useful feedback so that your project can move ahead smoothly.
1. Direct Questions to the Right Person
Choose specific people you’d like answers from so you get feedback from those with truly helpful advice. Don’t be afraid to mix it up a little. Be direct — and proactive — by calling out specific people for different types of responses.
2. Specify the Answers You Need
Highlight exactly what answers you’re looking for instead of leaving the question open-ended. If you’re meeting in person, give your client or coworker a written outline of the feedback you need for before showing a concept. Explain each module’s benefit every step of the way, and how it fits into the larger design concept.
3. Keep it Brief
Complete, clear, and concise statements help convey the meaning in your message, so keep comments tightly focused. Break down the feedback into small, manageable chunks that are easy to understand and act upon.
4. Light a Fire to Get a Response
Once you’ve explained the feedback you need, offer motivation to elicit a response. Make sure everyone on the team understands why the feedback you’re seeking is important and how it will help move the project forward. Assure others the suggestions they offer will be heard and incorporated into the final design if possible.
5. Does it Relate?
Feedback you can’t use is worse than no feedback at all. Make sure the feedback you get is directly related to moving the project along. There’s no need to rehash issues that have already been resolved or bounce around advice that has little or no relevance to the design issues on the table.
Opening yourself up to potential criticism by asking for honest feedback is never easy. It’s an important part of the design process, though. Remember, you need constructive feedback to make sure your vision is aligned with that of the overall goals of the project. Just ask specifically for what you need to know, and don’t take any of it personally.
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