How to Give Design Feedback Like a Pro

Giving design feedback is hard, but with a few quick tips you do it like a pro.

The Design Feedback Sandwich.

The best way to keep designers happy is to use what I call the Design Feedback Sandwich.

  1. Start by telling your designer a few things you like about the design. 
  2. Next, tell the designer which pieces are problematic.
  3. Finish by telling them something positive thing about their work.

Validating the positive bits keeps up morale. Remember - people are more creative when they're in a good mood.

The Design Feedback Sandwich

Frame Your Feedback Around the Goals

Instead of saying "I don't like that blue," say "I don't think that blue effectively conveys a sense of excitement to our target teen audience." By framing your feedback within the goals you immediately win. You help keep the team on track and you remove your own personal bias. Go you! You are becoming a pro already!

When You Get Stuck, Test

When your team gets can't agree on the feedback, try testing. Using cheap and easy tools such as FiveSecondTest or UserTesting.com to bring in a fresh perspective to the conversation. Fresh eyes and new data can usually unblock creative gridlock.

Define Roles

As I learned from Paul Boag - It's the client's job to define the problem, and the designer's job to solve it. Keep this in mind when giving feedback. For instance, a common piece of feedback is "i think the page looks too busy. Lets add more padding." Try to remember to state the problem, not the solution. Instead, allow the designer to explore solutions to the problem. When you tell a designer how to do their job, you unknowingly limit their creativity. For example, adding more padding may make the page feel less busy, but so might reworking the copy, adjusting the type size, or reworking the layout. In short, trust your designer to find the best solution.

NOTE - many clients have fantastic suggestions and collaboration is key, but it's good to remember the roles to play to each others strengths.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Being both respectful to each other and validating each others efforts produces long term fruitful partnerships. When collaborators feel heard, moving forward becomes effortless.


This is my list. I'd love to hear yours. Design feedback can be a tricky business, so the more we share the better.

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