Design critique is an integral part of the design process. When done right, design evaluations can help to eliminate usability issues and simplify the product design process. The following article offers designers a productive design critique guide, so let’s jump right into it.
Essential tips to remember before offering design critique:
1. Be specific
A good design critique paves the way for collaboration and being very specific about what you want is the key to a pleasant collaboration. To achieve this, your feedback should have a complete and logical explanation of why you like or do not like a certain UX design.
For instance, don’t just say that you would like the logo on the top, explain why it would be better to have it on the top. Instead of saying, “This way, the logo will stand out more.” Be more specific and say, “This way even audience that are older or have visibility issues will notice the logo.”
If you are not good at explaining your ideas spontaneously, try to first figure them out on paper. You can also send the designer a link. This would exactly explain to the designer what exactly you are looking for.
Providing concrete solutions or alternatives helps designers learn more about an element that is not working. Being vague and providing confusing directions is the worst critique. So, be specific.
2. Hold back impulsive reactions
It is important to choose the right time to present your product design ideas. Don’t be too eager to share your thoughts even if you mean them out of goodwill. Let the designer finish the presentation, and wait for the feedback session.
Furthermore, take time to filter your thoughts and opinions about the design. It could happen that you have not understood certain design areas, but reacting with “Huh, what?” or “This doesn’t make sense to me,” may sound too dismissive.
Instead, make a mental note of what you want to say, hold back your reactions, and wait until the designer has fully explained and completed presenting the design ideas. Remember, designers will benefit from your constructive analysis, not your impulsive reactions. So, listen before you speak.
3. Ask, don’t assume
It may happen that the designer has walked you through the design ideas, but certain areas of the product design still don’t come through clearly. In such cases, it is imperative that you ask more concrete questions, instead of just assuming.
Sometimes, it may happen that you may come off as being too quick to judge if you pass a judgment on something that you have ‘assumed’ incorrectly.
4. Don’t forget about the positives
Critique isn’t only about pointing out the negatives and talking about what’s not working about the product design. In fact, if you don’t talk about the strengths at all, the design team might delete a winning design element and you may even end up losing the entire design. Therefore, to help the team stay productive, it is equally important to focus on the positive.
5. Avoid getting personal
Staying objective in your feedback may be a challenge as you cannot put your personal preferences on the table. In the end, you have to remember that the UX design ideas are for real products. So, your design critique has to ultimately be about the users and not driven by your personal goals.
Furthermore, remember you need to provide feedback not to outsmart others but convey user needs. Your job is to talk about the design and the user specifications. Don’t make your feedback personal by bringing in what you would prefer; argue from the user’s perspective, and address the design, not the designer or the team.
Significance of a Productive Design Critique Guide
- A design critique session occurs when there are different product design ideas. As such a critique helps to find a consensus. It also encourages communication and cooperation between team members. This in return drives progress and improvement in the product design process.
- A design evaluation helps designers on a personal level. After all, we all need a critique for our professional development. We may be doing things right, but an evaluation helps us perform even better. A design critique thus helps in achieving greater success.
- A design evaluation not only helps on a personal level but also on a business level. A constructive design critique about product design ideas may help to attain business goals better than the original design ideas.
What is a good design critique?
A design critique is constructive when it—
- describes how the product design ideas work or do not work to support the objectives of the product.
- does not pass offhand remarks and judgment.
- understands the problem by asking the right questions.
- talks about the design’s strengths.
- thinks from the user’s perspective.
What is a bad design critique?
A design critique is unhelpful when it is—
- spontaneous and unprepared
- ends on a bitter note.
To form constructive feedback, you need to focus on three important questions: What is the design? How is it supporting the user’s needs? Why does it need to change? Suggesting something that inspires your peers and makes them value your opinion adds value to design.