How to give really great feedback

by | Dec 9, 2015 | Strategy

I absolutely love being a digital designer and strategist who works all by myself in my little basement studio, and I crave more connection.

Not and/or.  But and/and.  Being introverted (wassup, INFJs!!) and craving interaction are not mutually exclusive.

Just because I like to work all on my lonesome doesn’t mean I am super in love with my own ideas + opinions to the exclusion of all other thoughts, ideas, and opinions. As a matter of fact, I really value what other people have to say. A lot. There is a common misconception that freelancers (especially web designers) have a bit of a… complex where we feel we know best and refuse to listen to other people’s input.

Not so true.

Receiving feedback is one of the most important skills of a web designer, just as giving feedback is an important skill to have when working with a creative freelancer. No one will ever nail a design 100% the first time. Design is an iterative process that will always include revisions. It’s the designer’s job to listen to your goals, your market, your clients, etc (then refine, rinse, and most often repeat), using all of that research to come up with a digital solution that is perfect for your brand.

That’s why I value feedback so much.

But I’ve noticed that feedback isn’t always the easiest thing to give, especially when it involves logo composites or website mockups — stuff that is totally not in your zone of genius. And that’s OK. You don’t have to know everything about every industry. I totally get that you are the expert on what you do and so I give all my clients tips on how to best give me feedback on all the deliverables I’ll send their way during their time with me. Today I’m sharing them with you.


Here’s my top 5 tips for giving good and effective feedback:

  1. Sleep on it. Your first gut reaction is probably the best, but it’s good to take some time to let the design sink in. You may be overjoyed (or horrified) with something on first sight but give it some time to breathe. Walk away, do something completely unrelated, and come back to it. I like to suggest that my clients take the weekend to hang out with new design comps. Then I re-connect with them on Monday and we talk about it. This give some time and space for you to sit with the design, notice your feelings, get curious, and…
  2. Be honest. Please don’t be afraid of hurting your creative freelancer’s feelings! If you don’t like a design or something isn’t sitting right with you, say it as soon as possible (but at least after you’ve slept on it). If a few weeks go by and your developer is knee-deep in coding your site by the time you say “I really hate this layout” it’s too late to change directions without going over budget. The absolute worst thing ever is if you don’t speak up and then you’re stuck with a design you hate.
  3. Think about your goals. Whenever you are faced with an opportunity to provide feedback, always go back to your business goals. Think about how the design meets those goals and if you feel it doesn’t, ask your designer how it does. Most of the time they’ll have a very purposeful reason for each of their design decisions!
  4. Be clear and detailed. Instead of saying “It’s not what I want,” “I want it to pop,” or “make the logo bigger” try to be as specific as possible. What feelings is it evoking in you? Why do you want to add or remove a certain element?  How is it representing or misrepresenting your brand guidelines? And most importantly, how will this change help you achieve your goals?
  5. Don’t try to come up with answers. That’s what you pay your creative freelancer to do! Give us your feedback and then sit back, relax, and let us come up with some brilliant solutions for you. Trust me, you’ll be so glad you did!

Follow these 5 tips next time you have an opportunity to provide feedback and I know you’ll be pleased with the finished product.

Have you had a great or not-so-great experience giving or receiving feedback? Share your story in the comments below—we’re all in this together!