5 Tips for Giving Feedback to your Design Team

As a design-focused marketing firm, most people hire us because they need help solving real life business problems with innovative design solutions (more on that here). Our small but mighty crew has spent YEARS learning the principles of great design, staying up-to-date on the latest and greatest trends, and carefully studying how people interact with brands and marketing materials.

In each and every project, we aim to create something amazing that meets your business goals and inspires you. To get to that happy place, it’s essential for us to get your feedback on what we’ve created. After 21 years of receiving all types of feedback – good, great, bad, ugly and everything in between – we’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile a few tips to help you give the most effective feedback to any creative team you work with (you’re welcome):

The Tips:

1. Always Remember Your Goals

At the start of any project, we ask you to clarify your goals and target audience. These things are important, right? So, it makes sense that the most helpful feedback describes how you think the design does (or does not) help reach your goals and target audience. Feedback that is based solely on your “likes” and “dislikes” doesn’t help us reach your goals (no offense).

Unhelpful: I don’t like the color blue.

Helpful: I know we want this brochure to appeal to our target audience of older, working professionals. Does the color blue do that?

(Pro tip: The answer is yes.)

2. Be Specific

Vague phrases like “I’m not a fan” or “this is nice” are similarly unhelpful. We’re designers, not mind readers. Dig a little deeper to pinpoint what is bothering you (or what you love!) about the design and use specific language.

Unhelpful: It’s too plain.

Helpful: The font feels a bit boring and the layout seems too corporate. Are there changes we make within our brand standards to add more visual interest?

3.  Provide Examples & Inspiration

Maybe you’re having trouble using specific language to articulate your feedback? We totally get it! Words are hard sometimes for us too. Instead, spend a few minutes perusing the worldwide web for examples to serve as inspiration. Ready to take it one step further? Tell us why you like those examples (*insert firework emoji*). We’re not in the business of copying other people’s work, but it’s helpful for us to see what you like about another company’s logo, brochure, website, etc.

Unhelpful: I like modern logos.

Helpful: I like modern logos that are unique but simple. Here are a few examples of what I think of when I say modern – you’ll see there are a lot of negative and positive shapes overlapping.

4. Avoid Micromanaging

You probably hired us for our design expertise (and good looks). But really, we LIVE and BREATHE great design. So, if you have a design concern, describe the problem you see instead of a design solution you think will work. Chances are, we’ll come up with a design solution that’s even better than the one you imagined (we’re super creative and that’s why you pay us). We encounter micromanagement often, so we’ve provided a few bonus examples 😉 :

Unhelpful: Make the logo bigger.
Helpful: I want to make sure potential clients remember our company’s name. Will you explain why you think our logo should not be the largest item on the page?

Unhelpful: Can you move that button up and to the right? And make it bigger? And change it to green?
Helpful: I’m worried people might miss the button. How can we make it stand out more?

Unhelpful: I’ve created a sketch of the print ad I want you to create!
Helpful: Since our target audience is young adults who are always interested in the next big thing, we want our print ads to be fun and engaging, kind of like what Target and Netflix are doing.

5. Don’t Design by Committee

Seriously. Nothing is more confusing/ frustrating for us than trying to make sense of conflicting input from multiple people who may or may not be involved in the project. Get your team on the same page about feedback before you send it to us. We will be eternally grateful.

Unhelpful: Mike in accounting liked this, but Janet in sales thinks we should find a way to include this element too, and Emily (ummm…who is Emily!?!) thinks that this message is important to add. Also, my supervisor would like to revisit the image choice entirely. Can we find a way to compromise?

Helpful: Overall, everyone responded well to the layout and content of this brochure. However, we don’t think the image is the best fit for the message of inclusiveness that we’re trying to convey. Can you provide us a few options of images with different types of families with pets?

Bonus Tip: Ask Questions

We like you, so here’s an extra tip: if you don’t understand something or if you’re feeling unsure about a design choice, please ask! Even though we may seem a little sassy, we’re actually very kind and more than happy to answer your questions, talk through your concerns, or explain the thinking behind the design.

Unhelpful: *Silence*
Helpful: Can you explain the difference between a serif and sans serif font again?

And that concludes this blog post about giving helpful feedback to your design team (again, you’re very welcome). If you use even one of these tips the next time you give us feedback, you’ll probably be elevated to favorite client status – oh, and you’ll also end up with a kickass design.