The Art of Critique: How to Give Insightful Feedback in Design

Lexi giving Lauren feedback on color swatches

Giving feedback doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Giving constructive, creative feedback with clear, actionable items, well, that’s a natural skill for even fewer. Because Rhyme & Reason strives to foster collaborative relationships and open dialogue with all of our partners, we not only ask for your feedback, but we look forward to it! But if sharing that feedback feels to you like speaking another language or potentially harming our feelings, our collaborative partnership starts to crumble. Fear not, for these handy tips will equip you with productive ways to share your feedback.


Be Specific

This feels off, I don’t like it, make it pop!, let’s push it further. While all of these phrases are the start of determining what you think of the design, they lack specific direction, leaving designers trying to puzzle out your meaning. And when the next round of designs comes in, you may find that you and the creative team have entirely different ideas of what “pushing it further” looks like.

Take the time to dig deeper. What exactly about this “feels off?” (Is the text too large here or is the photo too small?) What needs to happen to make this “pop?” (Perhaps the colors could be more saturated or the copy more playful.) Whatever the case, by providing clear, actionable revisions, you will get closer to your intended design and together we’ll get there much faster.

If you’re still struggling to articulate what you want, find examples that demonstrate what you’re looking for and then tell us exactly what you like about them. Or better yet, chat through it with your Account Executive. We’ve been with you from the beginning and can help you dig deeper to get to the root of your needs, while not losing sight of your original goal.


Don’t Forget the Sprinkles On Top

When you first review a design, you may fall into design-like, but it’s not quite design-love. So, you send a note to your Account Executive with only a list of a few tweaks to be made. It’s the most efficient way, right? Well, not necessarily.

By listing off your revisions and only your revisions, we may unintentionally change the parts of the design that you have heart-eyes for. Sure, sometimes it works. But other times, we’re all left wondering why making those little tweaks didn’t make you swoon.

When you include what you do like, it is super clear what has to go and what’s worth sticking around for.

And while sharing the good with the bad is a fantastic way to provide feedback in general, we promise we don’t ask for it to protect our egos. No really, we can handle it. When in doubt, be direct and kind about your likes and dislikes. It helps us create the best possible product, together.


Find Problems, Not Solutions

Some small edits can skate by without impacting the rest of the design, but many revisions tend to have a ripple effect. For example, if you move one thing, then something else has to move over to balance it out. If this gets bigger, then that must get smaller to make space, and so on and so forth.

While solving a problem seems to be helpful, these types of suggestions may not take into account visual or technical considerations that you may not be aware of. This results in rigid guidelines that often affect the overall integrity of the design, or worse, your brand equity.


Identifying a problem: I love the photo placement in this ad, but the call to action appears too small, I’m afraid it could get missed.

Providing a solution: I love the photo placement in this ad, but the call to action is too small. Can you put it front and center so it’s not missed?

Our team solves creative problems all day every day, this is our area of expertise. Let us know what’s not working, and then leave it to us to find a solution that accomplishes your goal without compromising your brand.


Ask Questions

You don’t have to have all of the answers. I mean, nobody ever really does, right? That’s why when our team reviews work internally, the conversation tends to include a lot of question marks. Rather than a one-sided critique, our goal is always a constructive and collaborative dialogue.

When reviewing a design, you may be unsure of a certain design choice. We welcome you to ask us more about why it was made. By doing so, you aren’t questioning our skillset and we certainly don’t take it that way. Instead, you are respecing that a creative choice was made and inquiring why.

A few possible questions you could ask:

    • What is the reason this element was placed here?
    • Why have you used this color here?
    • Is there a strategic reason this choice was made or could this be changed?

Posing questions gives you better insight into the designer’s perspective, and you might discover that their version solves potential issues that you hadn’t considered.