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The 7 secrets of how to give constructive feedback to your designer

Old fashioned phone hanging off the hook

Investing in good design, whether it’s a new logo, website or a complete rebranding package, is an important part of building a business. When you’re spending your hard earned money on design work for your company, it can be scary to put your faith in a designer to shape the face of your business.

The first step to making sure that you have a great experience is to find a designer who you click with. Someone that not only offers the best value, but that aligns with your brand vision as well.

The second step is to make sure that you continue communicating through to the feedback phase of your branding project. Collaboration is the key to great design. As a designer, I know what looks good, how to pair colours and fonts. But unless I collaborate with my clients to understand their company values and target audience, my designs won’t be the best they can be.

Giving constructive feedback to your designer shouldn’t be difficult. But it’s the part of the project that many clients worry about. What if I hate it? What if I offend my designer? What if I can’t communicate my likes and dislikes?

Think of design feedback as the natural point in a project where you and your designer check in with each other. It's a chance to discuss your opinions and make sure you’re still on the same page.

If you’re feeling unsure about how to critique design for a branding project for your business, I have seven simple secrets to giving feedback that will keep both you and your designer happy.

1. Be Specific About the Problems…

The most important advice on how to give constructive feedback to designers is to be specific. Feedback like “page 2 is awful” is not helpful for you or your designer. Think about what the designer can learn and change from your comments. If you’re drawing a blank, then your feedback isn’t very constructive.

With every element of feedback, ask yourself “…and why?”. Perhaps you think page 2 is awful because the colours are too bold when you’re trying to show a more luxury feel to your business.

Another reason why being specific is so important is because sometimes feedback can get lost in translation.

When clients give ambiguous feedback like “make it more creative” or “make it cha-cha”, it can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Talk about practical things like the colours, fonts and spacing, and it will be easier to get your point across.

2. …But Not About the Solutions

My role as a designer is to find creative solutions to your problems. By allowing your designer to use their knowledge and skills to come up with solutions to the feedback you’ve given, you’ll get results that work well for everyone.

Rather than telling your designer to make all titles in your new website design bright pink, tell them that you think the titles need more emphasis. Your designer can then go away and find the best solution for that problem. It might be to make all the titles bright pink.

But, it could also be to create more white space around the titles, to add borders, to highlight each section with a photo, or to increase the font size.

If you respect your designers’ expertise and ability to problem solve, the process of giving feedback and making amendments will be a lot smoother.

Where it might be helpful to offer solutions to your designer is within your specific area of expertise. If you’re a marketing manager with a head for lead generation funnels, work with your designer to find the best place for the contact button on your most important landing pages. Sharing knowledge and collaborating leads to smarter design choices.

3. See It Through Your Audience’s Eyes

Realising the difference between your own tastes and preferences and those of your target audience can be a blurry line. Especially for small business owners.

You might have an initial reaction to a certain colour or font used in your branding design, but take a step back think about your target audience or ideal customers. Your favourite colour might not be the best branding choice for the industry you work in.

4. Ask Questions

Are you feeling completely lost when your designer talks about a “lockup”, “header section” or “slab serif”?

Feedback isn’t a one-way street. If you don’t understand something your designer is referencing, or you aren’t clear on why they have made a certain decision in their design, ask questions.

Most of the time, a quick and clear answer will be right around the corner, and it’ll help you put together constructive feedback quickly.

5. Review and Refine

When it’s time to give your graphic designer feedback, it’s helpful to first look back at the project goals you agreed on at the start of the project. It will help to remind you of the purpose of the project so your feedback has the right focus.

Managing feedback from a team can be tricky. Save time and help your designer to get their amended concepts back to you quickly by refining your team’s opinions into final decisions.

If your co-founder loves the logo version with the scripted font, but your social media manager prefers a cleaner looks, find the best way forward for the company before you give conflicting feedback to your designer.

6. Keep It Neutral

Getting feedback is an essential part of a designer's job. But no one likes to hear too many negative comments about themselves.

Keep your feedback light and productive by using a passive voice. For example, say “the colours are too bold for our target audience of older customers” rather than “why did you make the colours so bold?!”.

7. Don’t Forget the Positives

You might think that giving design feedback is all about finding out what you don’t like. But positive feedback is just as productive and helpful.

If you love the quirky layout of the home page that your designer has put together for your website rebrand, let them know! Feedback like this will guide them on what elements to focus on and develop in other parts of the design.

So, don’t dread giving feedback to your designer. Embrace open and clear conversation with your creative collaborator. Good feedback saves time for the next round of iterations of your logo, branding or web design. Which means your business will have a brand new look in no time!

Now that you know the secrets to how to give good design feedback, are you ready to start a new branding project? Get in contact with us and share your vision for your business.

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