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How to Give Design Feedback Without Crushing Creativity

I can draw phenomenal stick figures. I’m talking award winning stick figures, if a stick figure drawing contest existed.

How to Give Design Feedback Without Crushing Creativity

This feat does not make me a designer.

Similarly, understanding how to string together a sentence using a laptop or traditional pen and paper does not make one a writer.

Designers and non-designers collaborate on a daily basis at an agency. Producing a piece of content, project, or campaign for a client involves all hands on deck, creatives and non-creatives alike. All members of the party (including the client) are responsible for effectively communicating in order to accomplish a goal.

The majority of this communication is in the form of feedback. Unfortunately, most people do not have experience in the art of feedback.

The majority of communication is in the form of feedback

When providing feedback to your designers, be mindful of what you say — it just might crush their creativity.

Good design accomplishes a goal. Good feedback allows it to happen.

Good design accomplishes a goal. Good feedback allows it to happen.
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When Feedback Goes Miserably Wrong

There’s nothing worse than a beaten down, miserable designer acting as a creative puppet.

Don't turn your designer into a creative puppet

A designer approaches each project with gusto. Upon assignment, they immediately begin researching, drafting, brainstorming, and compiling ideas. After all of their hard work, they present it to the client with high hopes — only to be let down.

Why are they so hurt if they put all this effort into the design? Shouldn’t they have thick skin by now?

Let me clear something up:

Designers do not sulk when a client doesn’t like what they created. They sulk when vague or demanding feedback stifles creativity.

Let’s imagine the designers here at Titan Web Marketing Solutions designed a landing page for you. You didn’t like the way the contact form looked and immediately barked that the designer needed to make it red. Why? Red stands out to you more. Perhaps it has a deeper, sentimental meaning for you.

On the designer goes to miserably execute your desired changes, even though he or she knows it doesn’t match the brand tone, standards, or feel your target audience is used to. The client is always right, right?  

Of course, after your desired changes have been made, you become upset when the end result isn’t living up to expectations. Your frustration could have been avoided by feedback that prompted the designer to think creatively instead of doing whatever they were told to do.

What Constitutes Phenomenal Design Feedback?

Providing exceptional design feedback breaks down into three distinct areas:

  1. Give Direction to Accomplish a Goal
  2. Allow Room for Creative Thoughts
  3. Have an Open Mind
Giving proper design feedback  can accomplish a lot!

Once you understand the importance of each area, you’ll be the master of design feedback before you know it. And your designer will thank you.

Give Direction to Accomplish a Goal

Great design feedback accomplishes a goal

Just like at the end of every rainbow is a pot of gold, every design project has an end goal.

Your feedback should be framed around accomplishing said goal. If not, you’ll go through fifteen revisions with no end in sight and string along a frustrated creative team.

Back to the landing page example and that pesky contact form. Instead of telling the designer to “make the contact form red!”, try providing the following feedback:

The purpose of this landing page is to get users to submit the form. Since our goal is a 20% conversion rate, let’s find a way to make the contact form stand out more.”

Hold on. I need to wipe the tears from my face. If only all creative feedback conversations went that way. If only…

In this example, the goal is to have 20% of users convert on that landing page. The designer (and the rest of the team) is now tasked with creating such a landing page that achieves the specific goal in mind. By framing your feedback around the end goal, we can all understand exactly where you are coming from and why the change needs to be made.

The end result would be a goal-oriented design instead of guesswork directed by feelings and miscommunication.

Frame all feedback with the goal in mind. Your feedback should reiterate the goal and leave the door open for all creative solutions.

Allow Room for Creative Thoughts and Ideas

By framing your feedback as a way to steer the project towards the end goal, you need to allow your team to be creative and develop ideas. After all, isn’t that why you hired a designer and/or creative team?

Designers thrive off of creativity (shocker). Without it, they become the puppet referenced earlier. Your feedback should push them towards creatively solving a problem, not completing a task with the intent of sprinting towards the finish line.

When you say, “Considering our conversion goal, I believe the contact form needs to stand out more”, your designer thinks, “Oh, I could add contrast on the button, make the font bigger, move elements around…” The potential solutions become endless.

Exceptional design feedback can yield endless solutions

Instead of barking orders and demanding unreasonable turnaround times, pose questions and feedback statements designed to get them thinking more creatively. In the end, it’ll only be to your benefit. (And ours too, we’ll have a lovely portfolio piece).

Have an Open Mind

If you want a design done a specific way and only that way, tell us so from the start. We’ll create it for you, shake hands, and move on.

If you want something that achieves your goal and looks magnificent, have an open mind and let your designer’s mind wander and play. You never know what these wonderful creative individuals will come up with!

Have an open mind about your website and design feedback

When the designer presents their ideas to you, continue to have an open mind. They could present you with a pivotal new idea. If you are closed minded and shut them down, you’ll always wonder what your particular project could have been.

You hired your designer to be creative and produce a piece of content that accomplishes a specific goal. If you didn’t need their innovative thinking and visual mindset, you wouldn’t have contacted them in the first place.

You can be critical of the work, but only if your critique is centered around a goal and you have an open mind going forward.

Why Idea-Generating Feedback is Needed

Inspiring, constructive feedback is needed for multiple reasons:

  1. It keeps the creativity alive, which in turn allows for an abundance of innovative solutions to your particular problem.

  2. It keeps teamwork functioning properly — this includes the teamwork, communication, and collaboration with you, the client!
  3. It shows a mutual respect for the other’s education, skills, strategy, and talent. You wouldn’t like it if we provided awful feedback for your business. But don’t worry, we would never do that.
Great feedback creates creativity, teamwork, and respect

Moral of the story: proper design feedback warrants even better results. When you want your problem to be accomplished with the assistance of a designer, you need to provide extraordinary feedback that helps to yield a quality result.



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