How to Critique Design
March 13 2020
When giving feedback to your designers, whether they’re print designers or graphic designers, you probably don’t even realize that this feedback can be unhelpful for them. Many designers get frustrated with the feedback they receive on their work, as it’s too vague for them to make any significant alterations. We’ve laid out some tips here for you to give better constructive criticism to your designers for you to work harmoniously and create the best design outcomes possible!
Begin with Respecting Others’ Opinions
Remember that design critique should always be objective and not influenced by your own biases. It would be best to respect other’s analyses and keep in mind that a plethora of opinions is necessary for breeding creativity and achieving maximum results. It’s easy to offend a designer if you’re rude to them or denigrate any external critiques of their work.
Offer Helpful Suggestions
Offer suggestions that you’re reasonably sure the designer hadn’t previously thought about, rather than pointing out obvious or somewhat irrelevant issues. Part of being a designer is being creative and finding inspiration, so help them with that and provide inspiring suggestions.
Avoid Meaningless Phrases
In the same vein as offering helpful suggestions comes careful language use. If you give the designer feedback such as “jazz it up a little” or “it needs to be cleaner,” you’re fundamentally inviting them to roll their eyes at you. These phrases aren’t helpful as they don’t mean anything. Use language carefully to convey what you mean and want from the design.
With careful language, use comes specificity. If you give vague feedback to your designer, chances are not much will change in the design, and then both of you will be unhappy with the final result. Being specific might seem hard at first as it’s natural to want to skirt around being direct to save face, but believe you me, it’s worth it. Both you and the designer will be more precise about what the outcome should look like, and chances are, you’ll reach that outcome much quicker if you’re direct with it.
You might dislike something in a design, but instead of critiquing it heavily, enquire why they made that choice. For all you know, there might be a great reason behind it that you hadn’t previously thought of, which could change your mind about the critique behind it. It’s essential to listen to the rationale behind the designer’s decision before critiquing it, as it provides a new perspective for the both of you and prevents offending any personal values that were involved in the designer’s choice.
Almost reiterating a previous point, but feedback should only be based on the goal and audience of the design. Your tastes and views should not be involved in the feedback process; it should be entirely driven by whether the design is optimized for the given audience. If you can’t put yourself in the shoes of the designated audience, ask for external critiques! It’s always good to have a chorus of opinion on the matter.