How to give feedback on a design


A few clients just recently have expressed to me concern about providing their feedback on a design or making changes, they worry that they are being ‘picky’ or ‘fussing’. However a key part of any design project is the reiteration process through feedback and it is expected by designers (and should be by clients too).

One of the fundamental lessons I actually learnt during my design degree was in receiving critique of your work, over time you start to take it less personally. Of course if I have designed something my hope is that you will love it but it may take some tweaks to make that happen, so firstly don’t start to panic if it’s not right first draft.

What are Concepts and Revisions?

A concept is generally a unique idea or different approach taken to the design. Depending on the designer and the quote you may receive anything from one to several concepts. I prefer to show the best of my approaches if that is only one then I will only show one, if I have a few contenders then you will see a few to choose from. If I’m not happy with a design concept I won’t just put it in as filler!

Most of the time in a quote, proposal or package description you will see stated a number of ‘revisions’ and these are basically cycles of change to a concept. A completely new design is not a revision and will likely incur extra costs. It is hard to say what is considered as a revision as it different designers could count things differently, I think a lot of times the limit is their to have as a bit of a safeguard if the amount of change request get out of control.

General Tips for Providing Feedback

– Try to group any changes you have into one response as it will be a lot easier to track for both the designer and yourself than multiple emails or messages each with different changes.
– It may be worth discussing with the designer to hear their thought processes behind it, for example they may have seen something in their research of your target audience that made them choose that colour
– It is best to avoid going around asking different people what they think as you are always going to get a wide range of opinions which could just confuse you more!
– Having said that if you have access to a small community of your target audience you may want to ask whether it appeals to them.
– An overall impression is a good start, but to see an improvement it is better to pinpoint as much as possible what it is that you do/don’t like or want to see more/less of.
– And finally please have some tact, as hopefully your designer will have spent some time working on your project to get it to a stage where they are ready to get your input and will be hoping that at least you like the direction it is heading.



What feedback will the designer need to know?

1, What parts or aspects of the design/s do you like?
2, Figure out and pinpoint the parts of the design you don’t like. Make a list as the clearer you can be on what isn’t working for you, the higher chance of success second time around.
3, Do you have any further examples (ideally relevant to the project eg. Logos/icons for logo design) that you do like

Specific Focus Points (Tangible)
Colour // Typography/Fonts // Layout // Imagery

Discussion Points (Feelings)
Mood // Messaging // Target Audience

What if you hate it?

I completely understand that you may initially feel upset or angry after you have been waiting and hoping, then when you see it just doesn’t at all match up to your expectations. Possibly your dreams are riding on this, you’re waiting to launch your business or are working on building up your business. Sometimes you may have already formed a hazy vision of what it would look or feel like to you and so if it doesn’t meet this you will naturally feel disappointed.

I would recommend taking the steps previously mentioned for providing feedback and opening up the communication about it. Hopefully by working together you can achieve the results you are after. Sometimes though either you or the designer may feel that perhaps you aren’t the right fit together and a decision would have to be made to end the project. If you are considering this be sure to read over your contract as most will have a ‘kill’ or ‘cancellation’ policy which will detail fees incurred and you may not be entitled to receive the work up until that point. At first glance this may seem unfair but time, effort, thought and creativity will have gone into your project up to this point and it is only fair that the designer gets paid for this.

But to end on a more positive note the chances are by giving relevant feedback to your designer, you will be able to move closer to receiving a design you will love. You shouldn’t expect to see something you love straight away, consider it a bonus if you do! It really is about communication both ways between client and designer.