How Design Feedback Changes Quality of Design

When you work hard on something for quite some time, you start loving the result of your creative work. Basically, because it’s your creation. 

You love that page that was hard to write. You love that design that you spent a lot of time on. 

When you work hard on something, and people hate it or don’t express any emotions, it can be frustrating. 

Creative people should know how to deal with any feedback. People who give the feedback should know or learn how to do it right. Otherwise, it can be extremely frustrating for both.

Any kind of feedback leads to a cascade of changes, and if it’s done wrong, it means that you'll automatically have a mediocre result. So both parties are responsible for design solutions or any other type of creative project. So it's important, to be honest with each other in order to stay productive. 

Design Is Not A Pure Art

Most folks think about design subjectively, and feedback often can be unpredictable.

The problem is that there are still lots of people who think about design as an art. However, almost every design has a commercial purpose, and it complicates things. 

It's not enough to just like it or not. Not enough to just have a personal opinion on it.

If a client orders a design, there is probably a commercial goal behind it. Like increase of revenue, presentation of a new product or a feature, improvement of customer experience.

Having an opinion on this kind of design always have a reason. A presentation design might attract a different target audience. An interface is unclear for customers for some reason. There is always something, and we as experienced designers and creators should know the issue.

It's even better to know it before we start work on the actual solution. Sometimes, it's difficult to define what should be created. The smart strategy here is to move in small iterations and learn about the issue and gather real data and facts.

Discovery Phase

This is where the discovery phase comes in handy. This stage of work aims to try several design directions and get as much feedback as possible from everyone who makes decisions on the client-side.

I recommend creating low-level concepts that will help you communicate the solution you're going to present in the final stage. So you don't spend a lot of time on details and technicalities and focus more on your work's direction.

This phase is also very useful to understand the project better and how the client gives you the feedback. You know better what to expect in the next stages of work and prepare for it.

The discovery phase is a preparation before the main stage of design work. And I'd say it's the most important stage of the work.

It's a good idea to present your ideas and design direction to better communicate design solutions.

Why you shouldn’t send any results without a presentation

Because you simply can stumble upon someone who doesn’t even read your message and start discussing design layout or visuals that you shared with others but not with you. 

It’s a critical point of receiving valuable feedback. If you don’t take into account this, then you’ll struggle with the feedback that is meaningless. If you send out not a completely working website or working product that is actually ready to go live, it means you’re still in the progress of creating it. 

You need to communicate the solutions that you show. If you show or send a design without any explanation or do not talk about it with the person responsible for this project, you are on the path to miscommunication and bad feedback.

Sometimes, we can’t talk or present designs in real-time. You are located in another city or country, the business specifics of the client, team, or something else.

You are able to create a small presentation or at least invest time into writing explanations in plain language. Break this explanation into points if necessary. Put your designs in the cloud or some web services to create a simple clickable prototype to let people feel the flow, not only imagine it. 

At least, you can do it on a fundamental level. And of course, it applies mostly to digital product designers who work on the web and mobile designs. 

Even if it's not a purely digital product, you can still make a presentation to explain the creative solutions and how you communicate values with them.

You're responsible for the design feedback you get

The most common mistake of lots of designers, beginners, and even mature corporate designers, is that we tend to delegate the feedback part to our clients.

We're responsible for this part as well. The feedback you get depends on the way you respond to your clients.

It's easy to be defensive about your work. But it's more productive if you try to see things from the client's point of view, ask as many questions as you can, be empathetic.

It's important to set aside emotions and think objectively. If the client is right then, he's on your side from the very beginning. He is interested in the design results that will perform the best for the business.

Think about your clients as partners because you invest your knowledge and experience in their businesses. You're trying to reach the same goal.

If the client is happy with the result, he'll be back with more projects. People see your work results, and most likely, they will reach out in the future.

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Max Snitser

Max is a digital product designer and indie maker. He helps some of the best companies in the world to build products used by Millions. He is a creator of the SPRY Blogging Platform, Nightfall Design System, and the Design Patterns Library. Besides his technical background, he is a writer of the book about Independent design business. Also, created this blog as a domain for the most thorough and data-driven content on topics: Design, Remote Work, Blogging, and Technologies.