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How to give feedback to designers? (5 Simple Steps)

06-07-2022 (updated) - By August van de Ven

Giving designers feedback can be quite difficult, especially coming from non-designers. While the job of a designer often includes a lot of feedback and criticism, many designers are used to empty or non-constructive criticism and endless rounds of revisions. If you keep to these points, however, it can make providing feedback a lot easier while keeping a good relationship with your designer.

Build on Trust

As is the case in most jobs, trust is one of the most important factors. Most designers unfortunately have had some experience with someone ripping them off or wanting them to work for free at some point in their career. It's important to communicate your intentions and to stay respectful when giving feedback.

Provide Clear Feedback

When you give your feedback to a designer, be sure to make it as simple as possible. Offer your feedback one point at the time and don’t use vague wording. Statements like “Make it pop” or “Make it cooler” are things designers especially dislike. You can include these statements in your initial design brief to try and give directions in terms of emotion, of course, but to give these statements later often means that you’re going to get in a feedback loop where you and the designer will have to agree over something like “making it pop” and what that means. These vague statements often mean something different to everyone and the designer knows that, so it’s hard to translate these words into an already finished design.

When you have feedback, give clear directions on the elements you think need change. Some examples are:

Always give a reason why you would like something to be changed. Designers always have their own reasons why something is like it is and giving a statement without any reasoning can make the feedback feel unfounded.

Agree on Pricing and Revisions

When you commission a designer to work on something for you, always make clear arrangements on pricing and possible changes. Some designers include one or two revisions with their asking price, meaning that you can suggest one or two changes within the initial price. When they offer revisions, get a clear number on paper.

In case the designer doesn’t offer revisions or if they are working with an hourly rate, be clear that you will pay them for every revision. Even if you hate the logo, the designers took their time to work on it and deserves and expects to be paid for their labor.

Communicate with the Designer

Clear communication is key when providing feedback to designers. Discuss as much as you can on what your intentions are with the design and what your goal is. When you give feedback, be sure to discuss it with your designer instead of giving orders. Knowing the reasoning behind certain choices within a design can often clear a lot up before a redesign. Also, when you have problems with the current design, discussing it with your designer first, might offer different solutions that you might not have thought of from a designer’s perspective. This is why it’s important to state the problem and not immediately think of your own solution.

The way you communicate with your designer is also very important. Be sure to ask what their preferred way of communication is. Calling, for example, can often result in problems due to misunderstandings or unclear instructions. When you have a lot of feedback, the easiest way is often to just send a simple list via email. If you call, it can be very overwhelming and hard to keep track of every single point, and the designer will often have to write everything down anyway. Sending your feedback via email can also make things easier in the end because it can prevent a lot of miscommunications and misunderstandings because everything is written down. Finally, ask the designer if all the instructions are clear and ask them if they are comfortable providing regular updates of their work while taking on large tasks. This can prevent misunderstandings between you and the designer and will give you a clearer insight into how they work.

Give the Design Some Time

When you are paying a designer to redesign your logo, website or something else, it can be very hard to like something that's completely different than what you're used to. If you don’t like a design, it can help to wait for a few days and see if it will grow on you. It is usual for your first impressions to be negative because you are so used to your current design and it’s often hard to let go of that, even if your current designs aren't well-designed. People simply don’t like change and you have to keep that in mind.

Before giving a designer feedback, show the designs to others. And also, if the designs are a redesign of your current brand, be sure to show it to people that don’t know about your current design so that they will have a more objective view and won’t feel nostalgic over the old one.