The process of receiving design feedback

Profile picture of Jeremiah Lam




Illustrations by {name}

Embracing multiple perspectives is crucial for pushing creative work forward. Here’s how to truly grow and improve from feedback.

8 min read

A 3D illustration of a smiley face against a gradient background with the words “love it” and “hate it” surrounding it

Stay informed on all things design.

Thanks for submitting!

Shaping Design is created on Editor X, the advanced web design platform for professionals. Create your next project on Editor X. 

Get our latest stories delivered straight to your inbox →

Receiving feedback is a critical part of the design process and can even determine its success. In fact, I’ve noticed a clear correlation between the amount of quality feedback received throughout a process and the success rate of the project.

Soliciting constructive design critiques allows us to view our designs through different perspectives and to make better decisions because of it.

Michael Gough, VP of Product Design at Uber, once said: “Feedback is as much art as it is science. Like any other form of communication, it is not as much about what is said, as what is heard, understood, and acted upon.”

The act of receiving design feedback might seem simple, yet it’s much more than just listening to various comments and blindly acting upon them. In order for the process to be effective, designers must be able to clearly present their design and evaluate the feedback that was given to them, free of personal bias.

Scheduling regular feedback sessions helps cultivate a culture where feedback and opinions are respected and seen as part of the design process.

The importance of design feedback

Design is a collaborative process. Gone are the days where you could work in solitude and impress everyone at the end with your pretty design. Whether you’re working in a large team or as a sole designer, it’s essential to get feedback from your users, team members, and other relevant stakeholders at every step of the design process. In addition to helping you improve your work, there are various reasons why encouraging feedback is beneficial.

Foster collaboration

Designers thrive on collaboration — the act of debating and brainstorming new ideas is a big part of our job as we constantly seek new ways to improve our designs. Scheduling regular feedback sessions helps cultivate a culture where feedback and opinions are respected and seen as part of the design process.

However, collaboration shouldn’t be limited to being amongst designers, as different perspectives and areas of expertise can provide unique points of view.

By involving non-design stakeholders in the feedback session, we’re fostering cross-discipline collaboration among the team. It also gives everyone a sense of pride and ownership by being involved in the design process and knowing that their opinions are heard.

Grow as a designer

There’s only so much you can learn through tutorials, case studies, and articles. By working with other designers and listening to them share their design feedback, you can expand your horizons and learn new things outside of your own discipline.

For example, if a designer specializes in information hierarchy, they will be able to give you feedback based on that particular point of view. The same can be said when talking to non-design stakeholders, as they will bring up ideas relating to the business aspect — something that a designer might not take into account.

Setting the stage for constructive feedback

As a designer, I’ve often experienced colleagues or stakeholders giving me passing comments in the midst of my work process. They would make certain suggestions like, “I think we should make the buttons green to be more eye-catching” or “We should add more placement messages to promote our premium services.”

Although well-intentioned, just wanting to share their thoughts on the matter, their feedback was mostly unhelpful, due to its lack of context. In order to get quality feedback, it’s important to set the stage right. I prefer to schedule regular feedback sessions with relevant stakeholders at each step of the design process. This gives me the opportunity to properly present my design ideas and make clear on the sort of feedback I’m looking for. My presentation normally covers the following key points:

  • What problem are we aiming to solve

  • How do we define success for the project

  • Are there any potential business or technical limitations

  • Was any research done on the topic

  • The proposed solution(s) and justification for it

While this is only an outline, it should provide a good framework for presenting your ideas in an articulate and tangible format. By contextualizing your design with the necessary background information, you’d be able to tell its full story and give audiences a good insight into your thought process.

Understand your audience

Your design presentation should be tailored to the people who’ll be viewing it, and based on their perspective. When presenting to the management team, it’s critical to be business-oriented by showing that you have considered factors such as the product vision, business goals, and potential ROI. They’re probably not well-versed in design, so it’s your responsibility to align your work with those factors in order to steer the feedback towards their areas of expertise.

For example, if you’re presenting a signup process and form design, you might normally focus on how your design improves user experience by providing a frictionless flow. However, when presenting to the management team, consider explaining how this would affect the business. Is there any data showing that a frictionless signup process improves conversion rates?

In comparison, when presenting to fellow designers, you could focus more on the design aspect, cultivating a meaningful discussion on the proposed solution. The objective in this case will be to review the design and seek critiques from different perspectives to optimize it further.

Whether it’s visual, interaction, or usability issues, try to be clear on the purpose of the feedback that you’re getting, and gear the presentation towards it.

Defending your work may be tempting, but it’s important to take a step back and listen. By interrupting, you might cause the speaker to lose their train of thought and derail their original intentions.