If we would live in an ideal world, every designer would be designing cool things for their grannies or their dogs – Imagine: every one of us would receive only positive feedback for our work.
However, in the real world, the clients and the users have their own and specific expectations and sometimes their (negative) feedback could be easily overwhelming if the designer doesn’t know how to handle the critics with the proper emotional observation.
Tip one: Read the Brief
With this, I really mean to read the brief, not just take a glance at it and that’s it. You need to read it through a few times and construe it.
If I have a certain question, the first thing’s first: research. If I could not find the right answer, I will just simply ask for guidance from the client.
In the beginning, I always had second thoughts when it came to this part of the communication with my clients: Will it make me look unprofessional? But lately, my opinion has changed regarding this segment of my profession. If I think with the clients’ head, actually, it’s a good thing that the designer, who I’ve hired, really pays attention to the details and treats my project as a priority. On the other hand, if I’m following the client’s instructions, the expected job/quality will be delivered to them. This is surely the way as you can simply avoid the negative feedback.
Tip two: Love the Brief
Sometimes we will encounter with various style guides which we can find difficult to implement in practice. The most important thing for us is to realise the consistency which comes from following a straightforward style guide – It will help you see the whole picture of the project. This consistency can and will earn the targeted audience’s attention and gives a good/dependable impression of the company.
It’s possible that this will leave us with fewer opportunities, but let’s try to look at this from another angle.
Personally, I like to think of it as a challenge: am I capable of creating something fresh and exciting while obeying the rules? To be honest, it makes me feel more enthusiastic.
Tip three: The feedback is not against you – It’s teamwork
When working on any project, I’m always giving my best. That’s why my first thought was often „OMG, what did I do wrong?” when I received a neutral or negative feedback from my clients.
I’m treating every critique differently now: like a new idea, or another way that we can follow together to design a better creation, which will positively change the outcome of the project.
At the same time, if I can justify my professional decisions, I will let the client know what causes were behind my choice – they are employing me because of my experience and competence in the first place. If the feedback still stands after this professional discussion, the best thing to do is to think it through again, learn from it and build it into the project.
Tip four: Acceptance
There’s a reason why they say that acceptance might be the hardest thing in this world – however, there’s no clearer and valuable guidance than a constructive critique.
We’re creating brand new things, so it’s acceptable that we don’t succeed on the first try. This is a usual and essential process which accompanies creative design.
Tip five: There is always a new idea!
Yes, there’s always a new idea and there’s always a solution. If I’m treating this as a fact, I can let go of my previous ideas (obviously I will write them down first!).
The easiest way is, to be honest with myself and rationalize why was the criticized idea important and dear to me. After this, I can bring a whole new energy into the project, implementing and experimenting with different ideas in my work.
Let’s try to think about critique as a tool that will guide our progress. How do you apply feedback in your daily projects? I’m curious to know! 😊