BlogDesign and Development

How to give effective feedback to a graphic designer?

Written by Siddhita Upare
Published on July 19th, 2022

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So, you are creating this website and collaborating with graphic designers to help you turn your vision into reality.

You get the first draft and see that there are things that need reworking. As a project owner, you tried to convey your thoughts but could see that the feedback wasn't applied as you suggested.

This process goes on a couple of times, and by the end, you are frustrated.

Don't worry; this happens to everyone. Designers and non-designers don't speak the same language. Your thought process might not match theirs, or they might not be able to understand what you are trying to say here. This causes a vicious cycle of never-ending edits.

Mostly, the problem lies in the feedback process. Different communication styles and unique domain expertise complicate the collaborative process and cause potential friction.

So, how do you give your graphic designers feedback that they can use?

Let's find out.

Why is receiving feedback so challenging?

Before we count the mistakes you make in giving feedback, we must first discuss why receiving feedback is difficult for anyone.

Our brains are quite tricky. Research has proved that once an opinion is formed, it persists. Even after you give a person evidence that their actions are wrong, they will still believe it to be true.

That means your designer agrees with your opinion but might not be ready to change their mind. And this leads to cognitive dissonance, or clashing of opinions.

Our brain has a defense mechanism against criticism. We feel we are right, even if we are not. But, past the discomfort, most feedback is important.

Feedback helps you get an additional perspective on things you might not have considered yet. You can learn from it and revise your incorrect or outdated knowledge.

Feedback helps designers understand their client's expectations, thus speeding up the process of project completion. That means less time spent on sharing feedback back and forth.

Lastly, feedback improves your design skills. Tight feedback and repetition allow designers to practice their skills and improve.

How do you get your designers to accept your feedback?

As said, some designers get defensive if you comment on their work. However, there are two most appropriate ways to get your designers to accept your suggestions without being defensive.

Give them ownership

Most people aren't receptive to their ideas. So, instead of imposing your solutions, ask them what they think we should do in a situation. That way, they will feel empowered to brainstorm and come up with good ideas.

Doing so will save you time in making them understand why this particular thing isn't working out and how to improve it. With time, your designers will thank you for trusting them and giving them the creativity to develop unique solutions.

Nothing is right or wrong

In design, nothing is right or wrong. It all depends on the designer's perception. So, instead of telling your designers this element is wrong, ask them what they think of the problem.

Even if your designers do not agree with your idea, they will try to find a solution that meets your requirements. Use statements like "I could be wrong, but do you think there isn't enough whitespace in this section?" What would you suggest?

How to not give your feedback to a graphic designer?

This next section will dive into the mistakes you are making when giving feedback to your graphic designers.

1. Putting vague comments

We understand you are not from a design background and don't know what to expect in a design. However, you can easily tell whether the elements are working together or not.

And, to make it right, you put in comments like

"Can we be more creative here?", "This looks weird," "Make it pop," or a whole bunch of other things.

These comments are not feedback but rather gut reactions. Your designer cannot read your mind, so these comments have no clear direction, resulting in an unnecessary level of guesswork and revisions. Your feedback has to define a problem with a possible solution for your graphic designers to understand where you are heading.

How can you make this design feedback better?

When writing comments, ensure you are targeting a specific problem and including a possible solution. Putting in vague comments will not make the editing process simpler for your designer. Instead, be more specific.

So, instead of saying, "This looks weird," say, "The design element isn't going with the overall flow of the page, and it might need xyz changes." You can also give examples to make your designers better understand your expectations.

Know some design vocabulary

One of the major reasons why non-designers find it challenging to collaborate with designers is terminology. If you aren't from a design background but are leading a design project, you need to know the meaning of some common basic terms.

The more you familiarize yourself with design lingo, the greater your chances of giving super-specific, accurate feedback. You must do your homework and learn some design vocabulary before you put up comments.

How can you make this design feedback better?

One straight answer is to learn your lingo and use your terms correctly. Here are some of the design terms you should know about:

  • Tracking and kerning: Tracking refers to a uniform amount of space between each letter, and kerning is the spacing between individual letters.
  • Gradient: It means blending from one color to another, which sometimes creates a new color.
  • White space: it refers to the unoccupied space in a design.
  • Sans-Serif and Serif: They are common typefaces used in designing. The Serif fonts have lines and hooks, while Sans-Serif doesn't. There is a minute difference between them, so you will have to study them practically.
  • Opacity: It refers to the transparency of an image. Less opacity means a higher see-through image and vice-versa.

Learning this vocabulary is crucial if you want your designers to understand what you are trying to say. These are a few examples of the terms you should know for giving proper feedback to your designers. There are many more.

Impossible requests

Many times, what you imagine isn't feasible to create. Certain colors, shapes, and elements don't go together and might not fit on one page. Your designer will always try to match your expectations, but your vision should be reasonable.

It's okay to put in your views and give your designers a challenge, but expecting an unrealistic outcome isn't fruitful. This makes collaboration painful for you and your designers, who might not feel encouraged to make changes.

How can you make this design feedback better?

The best way to deal with such situations is to sit down and explain exactly what you want. Be clear and comprehensive in your request. Ask for feedback from your designers on whether the said expectations are feasible.

Don't feel shy about expressing your vision. However, trust your designers with their skills. They are professionals and know exactly what works and what does not. So, it's best to talk to them and understand what changes can be made to achieve the best outcome.

Practicing the sandwich technique

The sandwich technique is quite popular when giving feedback. You might not know it by name, but many project managers and editors use it to give feedback to their professionals. The sandwiching technique means placing negative feedback between two positive ones.

Like "I love the page vibe, but I'm not sure if the color palette matches our vision”. Such statements give no direct feedback and confuse the designers as to how to approach changes.

The sandwich approach is so predictable that it has lost its meaning. Many employees now ignore the positive feedback since they know it's quite intentional and the client doesn't actually like the work. It's quite a selfish approach when no one wants to be the bad guy.

But, if you want your positive feedback to look sincere, stop using the sandwich technique. Designers are always up for challenges; you don't have to sugarcoat using such techniques.

How can you make this design feedback better?

While it is important to consider your designer's feelings, the best way to give feedback is to be direct and concise. The sandwich technique often leaves designers unclear about what’s to be done next. So, instead, make your feedback clear and include the changes you want to see implemented.

Don't just highlight the problems but also the solution. Ask your designers for feedback and make this communication seamless and stress-free. This doesn't mean you shouldn't share positive feedback. Just make sure your positive feedback looks genuine and not a sugarcoat for the negative ones.

5. Not asking enough questions

Many project managers still make the mistake of not having a structural feedback pipeline. The mere act of submitting designs and putting down comments is quite basic. You don't know why an element is made this way. So, instead of just penning down changes, ask relevant process-driven questions to your designers.

You must trust your designers with their art and give them a fair chance to present their views. Such discussions help designers understand the project requirements and align their future design decisions with similar goals.

How can you make this design feedback better?

Feedback is a collective process. It can't be one-sided. So, let your designers share their thoughts instead of just commenting on changes. You can ask questions like

  1. Why did you choose this color theme?
  2. How do you think it matches our brand goals?
  3. Do you think the design is easy to navigate, etc?

Each of these questions will help you understand the reasoning behind your designer's creative decision. This will make refining the designs easy since both the designer and you will have clarity on how you want a certain thing to look.

Why choose Ruttl to give your designers feedback?

ruttl is an all-in-one tool that works more than just as a design feedback platform. You can review live websites, web apps and design annotations. Users can easily leave comments, making it easier for team members to do the changes. Using Ruttl, you can provide an excellent customer experience, resulting in higher customer retention and references.

We are also launching some amazing features in which users can review videos and illustrations and add their comments. To make the customer feedback process more intuitive, our team is also working on adding new digital boards so that you can easily collaborate and communicate with your teams on new ideas.

ruttl will also help you resolve bugs quickly from your website by adding collaborators and leaving comments which seem to be buggy or out of context.

So, when you choose ruttl, you aren’t just getting a website feedback tool but a package of highly advanced features that are hard to find on any other platform.

Signup and join 9000+ teams and freelancers that use Ruttl daily as their website feedback tool.

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