A good critic responds both to the work and the person who made it.
Receiving feedback on your work isn’t always easy, especially early on in your career. Giving feedback? That’s just as important to consider. As a product designer, one of the very first things I’ve learned is the art of critique. I’ve laid out some best tips that have worked for me:
Elements of a Critique Group
- 3–7 people (owner, facilitator, etc)
- Printed handouts or digital copies for each person
- Feedback goals
Types of Feedback Goals
- Get specific kinds of feedback about a set of different design approaches for one feature or area of a website.
- Compare how several different components of the same product are designed.
- Discuss the user flow through design (cognitive walkthrough).
- Explore the designs of competing products that have elements or qualities that you want to achieve.
- Allow teammates with different job functions to provide feedback from their expertise.
- Understand any constraints & requirements of the project.
- Allow silent review time for 5–10 minutes (avoids groupthink).
3. Clarify the project with feedback questions:
- What known usability / design / business issues are these sketches trying to solve?
- What is the intended style of the design, and is it appropriate for the target audience?
- Are there similar software products or features that these designs should relate to?
- Where in the design are the most likely places for users to have trouble? and why?
- Are there reasonable design changes that might avoid these problem points?
- Does each design idea take advantage of things the user might already have learned?
- What are the pros and cons of each design idea, relative to each other?
4. Differentiate speaking from your own point of view and focus on the needs and wants of the users.
- Clarify the feedback goals that you’re looking for.
- Don’t give long-winded explanations (the most useful feedback is “I don’t understand this”).
- Listen first.
- Avoid being defensive.
- Ask follow-up questions.
- Record the feedback.
- Leave with a task list.
- Send follow-up for next steps and thank colleagues.
Well, that’s it! If you have any feedback tips that have worked for you, feel free to leave them in the comments.