Design clients, please read


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Here’s a webpage describing exactly what every designer wants to say to many, nay most, of their clients, but few ever do: How to give design feedback. A must-read for any design client; please spend five minutes doing so. It’s not a stab at how “bad” clients can be, it’s not derogatory; it’s a way for you to get better design from your designers, and for your designers to be able to give you better design.

A few tidbits to get you going:

First rule of design feedback: what you’re looking at is not art. It’s not even close. It’s a business tool in the making and should be looked at objectively like any other business tool you work with. The right question is not, “Do I like it?” but “Does this meet our goals?” If it’s blue, don’t ask yourself whether you like blue. Ask yourself if blue is going to help you sell sprockets. Better yet: ask your design team. You just wrote your first feedback question.

Let the design team be the design experts. Your job is to be the business expert. Ask them how their design solutions meet your business goals. If you trust your design team, and they can explain how their recommendations map to those goals, you’re fine. If you neither trust them, nor can they defend their choices it’s time to get a new design team.

Start with your summary evaluation. “Overall, this is going in the right direction.” “Overall this sucks.” etc. Explain why, and then go into detail. The “why” is the most important piece of all.

Good feedback relates back to goals and user needs. Bad feedback is subjective and prescriptive.

Prescriptive feedback comes along the lines of “Move the buttons over here.” And, of course, everyone’s favorite: “Make the logo bigger!” These may, in fact, be excellent ideas, but if we talked about the problems you’re trying to solve with these prescriptive solutions we might come up with better solutions or possibly uncover a bigger problem in the overall design system.

If you’re hiring a designer to do some design[1. Hire me :D], please read the article. It’s makes our job easier and your result much better.

If you’re a designer, read it as well. You’re not off the hook:

Design is a profession and a craft with standards and practices. It’s not a mystical undertaking, and designers are not magical beings.