Design freelancers, teams, and agencies love design.
Designers spend years in school being technically trained, countless hours drawing and discovering on their own, and assemble impressive portfolios. Great designers create from the heart (while keeping on point with a project’s strategic direction).
What a design team produces for you is grounded in unique work and education experiences, as well as a commitment to keep up-to-date with best practices. The best designers don’t chase trends just for the sake of being trendy; they thoughtfully evaluate the ebbs and flows of the design industry to ensure that what they develop is purposeful and contemporary.
Remember the following points when reviewing designs, preparing feedback, and discussing concepts and projects with your internal team, freelancers, and design agencies.
Always Remember the End Goal
When you request a change, be sure to address how the change will improve the solution. It’s a good idea to be able to answer this question when preparing feedback:
How will what I am suggesting improve the way our audience interacts with our business?
These conversations uncover how much research your design team or agency did to inform the designs they presented you. For example, when you ask why something looks a certain way, or flows in a specific manner, you want to get more back than a blank stare and a mumbled, “well, just because.”
An agency that explains the functional whys behind their creative choices will produce work that will satisfy your business needs. They discovered how your real customers and clients need a design to look and feel, and then they built that for you.
Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Both you, the client, and the designer — whether they’re an agency team or a freelancer — need to be able to rationalize designs and design changes.
Leave the Scissors in a Drawer
If you see something on one of the design options you’re presented with that you wish to see on another, please discuss this with your designer instead of photoshopping together your own version. Similarly, printing design options and then cutting out an element from one option and gluing it on to another is not productive. Prepare your feedback and discuss with the designer why you think combining elements will better serve your audience.
Feedback that comes as a bulleted list of change requests with no rationale is similar to cutting elements up with a pair of scissors. This method doesn’t adequately address the needs of your audience or explain how they will benefit from any changes.
You Don’t Need to Have the Answers
If you spot a problem/issue/concern, your designer wants to know about it — but they do not expect you to come up with a solution to the problem. Collaborative discussion about concerns is certainly imperative and effective, but after, the designer needs to head back to their office to come up with an adjustment.
Less “We”, More “They”
Simply stating what you don’t like is often not helpful, but explaining where you think your audience might struggle is crucial. Remember, you’re working together with a designer or an agency to achieve your business goals and provide a better experience for your audience. You and the designer need to push personal likes and dislikes off to the side during the project.
Egos need to be shelved because the needs of your audience deserve top priority.
To sum up, it’s just as easy to get caught up in personal preferences as it is to get trapped in a desire to be “hip” and “flashy” (or to just do what your competitors are doing), but you must resist. You took on a design project for a reason: to make finding (and using) your product or service easier and more attractive for your audience.
The way you give design feedback can make your project a success, or it can derail it (and your sanity) completely.