How to Give Productive Design Feedback

How to Give Productive Design Feedback

Productive design feedback is a critical step in the design process, alongside user testing and prototyping. Clients need to check several considerations that help designers fine-tune their work when it comes to constructive criticism. Productive design feedback allows clients and designers to achieve desired results through an objective approach.

An effective product design feedback differs from a critical design review, as you should never focus on the faults. Instead, the design should take centre stage, with clients sharing what works well while addressing the parts that require further improvement.

Feedback Setup

You will need to work closely with the design team to form a constructive feedback session. The process begins with determining the roles involved in the feedback. The people involved will contribute to design improvements and improved client-designer dynamics. These roles usually include:

  • Presenters: The design team behind the critiqued product will be there to receive actionable follow-ups from the session. Feedback sessions will help them with fresh perspectives to improve upon an existing feature or resolve a design problem.
  • Facilitators: Organisers who take an objective stance throughout the session, ensuring a  smooth and efficient session according to critique rules.
  • Note-takers: Individuals with a keen attention to detail, logging the main points and results for post-critique discussion and action plans.
  • Critics: Clients invited to participate in the session, offering insightful responses based on client and business objectives.

Additionally, you will need to include a few points in your feedback session to ensure a productive outcome that prevents discussions from steering off-topic. Some essential points include::

  • Secondary research: Collated information based on specified design situations/problems (i.e., user experience feedback and notes from previous discussions). Secondary research prevents critique groups from “reinventing the wheel” by leveraging on available data.
  • Design details: The main body of information which provides the premise of the critique session. These details should include fidelity expectations (i.e., wireframe or visual) and specific design issues that require attention and critique.
  • Critique Goals: A clear explanation of the desired critique objectives to prepare participants for the event. Additionally, you should include reasons for attending the session, emphasising the benefits of addressing design systems.
  • Session Agenda: A structured breakdown of the production design feedback, including session duration and points to cover. A structured agenda puts things into perspective and gives participants a better understanding of what to expect.

You can create more efficient and organised feedback sessions by supplying the information above in your brief. Designers may readily refer to the information to prepare for the session and collaborate to overcome design challenges.

Feedback Essentials

Some specific guidelines and factors will ensure a seamless and productive feedback session. As clients and project managers, it is crucial to accept multiple perspectives even if there is disagreement over the  vision. Clients can discover the reasoning behind disparate viewpoints through discussion and improve current projects with a practical approach.

Essentially, constructive design feedback is about assisting designers in discovering the most efficient methods to fulfil your prioritised objectives.

Mutual Trust

Mutual trust is a vital factor in the feedback process. Clients need to trust that designers have the technical capabilities to deliver superior results, while designers should respect the project outcomes outlined by clients. Through transparent and non-biased/coercive communication, clients can establish more impactful discussions for positive outcomes.

Describe Problems and Avoid Providing Solutions

Rather than providing prescriptive feedback, clients should help designers reach the best conclusion. The process links back to mutual trust – clients need to respect the professional expertise of the hired team. Rather than offering a rigid solution, clients should point designers to an observed issue and request their expert opinion on improving the situation.

Additionally, suggestions should always link back to the main design goal. For example, clients may ask, “is it possible to make the sidebar more conspicuous to improve the user experience?” rather than “use bolder font for sidebar text.”

Ultimately, clients should frame productive design feedback as suggestions for a solution, rather than demanding that a design team follow orders to the letter.

Stay Objective with Practical Elements

Clients should link presented design concepts, ideas, and discussions with logical applications/feasibility to paint a clearer picture. It is essential to remove all emotional elements from the process, guiding design teams to work better toward meeting project goals. Therefore, clients and designers should always align their goals to achieve the best design results.

For example, insightful user case studies (i.e., UX design complaints) can help eliminate subjectivity and corroborate design efficiency. During discussions, designers should explain design terminologies to facilitate better communication with clients.

Post-Feedback Matters

The end of a feedback session marks the beginning of follow-up action. You should request that note-takers summarise and share the main points of the discussion with clients and the design team. Note-takers may do so via a communication platform or have notes physically displayed next to the critiqued design.

If necessary, clients and project managers should provide clear and actionable steps with the points discussed. These may include arranging one-on-one sessions to address lingering design concerns and reviewing current products.

Through systematic feedback, you can reduce miscommunication with your design team and improve overall project quality. By welcoming constructive discussion, you can create a positive collaboration that promotes openness to communication and innovation, stretching the creative boundaries of your dedicated design team.


WQA provides supercharged digital product development for growth driven companies around the world. Working with Startups, Scale-ups and Enterprise, we design, build and scale digital products, experiences and platforms used by millions of people.

If you want to learn more optimising your design process, you can chat to us or email us for a conversation and assessment of your unique digital context.

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