How to Give and Receive Feedback?



Sharing ideas can be a great way to motivate and inspire others. It helps teams grow and produce work that surpasses expectations. At Divami, for the purpose of sharing ideas, we organize weekly ‘Design Huddles’. This is basically the time we set out to learn something new or discuss how to do something better.

Last week’s topic was all about ‘How to give and receive feedback?’

Giving and receiving feedback is an integral part of design work. It is a vital life skill that every designer must possess in order to produce great work. Feedback is important in design. It allows designers to raise the quality of the work by iterating based on the feedback.

Furthermore, it helps improve communication skills with peers and clients; allowing you to express your point of view and perspective better. Lastly, it helps you refine your observation of design flaws (when critiquing others’ work), allowing you to avoid them in your own work.

Different scenarios warrant different types of preparation to give and receive feedback. Receiving client feedback can feel very different from receiving feedback from a colleague or fellow designer. Let us take a look at them and learn how to handle each scenario.

1. Internal design review feedback:

The cornerstone of any great internal team feedback is trust. Trust between the different team members. There should be an unspoken understanding that all the feedback being given in a design review session is to elevate the design; solve the problem at hand in the most elegant way possible.

Such an environment makes it very easy for designers to share their work from the very initial stage. This leads to more collaboration and fewer iterations to the task. It is very useful to have working sessions with the entire design team at the early draft stages of the design. This can help understand the inputs from the perspective of people not involved in the project.

Moreover, it acts as a yardstick to check whether the design and interactions would work for external users. Mind you, this is in no way a replacement for user testing. But, it is an extremely quick and cost-effective way to make sure that you are in the right direction with your design.

2. External feedback:

This is one of the hardest forms of feedback to receive. One of the biggest challenges is the fact that a client or stakeholder is usually a business executive with a different set of goals. While a designer’s role might involve making the interaction very simple, the business goal might be to improve user engagement on that page.

When dealing with client feedback, it is important to understand the underlying problem that they are trying to tackle. Most people are not trained to provide feedback, so they default to talking about solutions to the problem that they see.

Uncover the underlying problem that they are trying to solve by asking a follow-up question about why they feel the need for such a solution to exist. Once the reasons are understood, it is much easier for everyone involved to come up with a solution that produces a great product. 

3. Interdepartmental feedback

Being part of a design and development agency at Divami, we quite often design and develop new products. To be able to successfully do this, there needs to be a good rapport between the design and development teams.

Typically, both design and development run in parallel in order to stay agile. This is ideal because it reduces time and also brings to the designer’s attention the different things that can’t be handled exactly as designed in development. When this happens there needs to be a proper feedback session between the designer and the developer to make sure that all the interactions are being developed the right way. This feedback has to focus not only on pointing out any flaws in the development but also focus on options to modify some interactions in order to keep the development timeline in check.

At the end of the day, there is no magic formula to give and receive feedback in the best way possible. Each situation will be unique and our experiences will prove valuable in understanding how to properly handle these situations. But these guidelines and your experience will help you deal with situations better.

If frustrated – breathe, drink some water and go back to the drawing board to see how you can incorporate the feedback without losing sight of the user and business needs.

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