How to give feedback on design to peers and on social media?

almost 5 years ago from , Product Designer

It's about how one can be mindful and considerate when providing feedback on a coworker's work or even on social media. Often times, what we say can be perceived negatively and sometimes we don't even understand the full context and just are eager to voice our opinion, which could be crushing for the person in context.

I would love to hear the DN community's thoughts on it.


  • Tanner ChristensenTanner Christensen, almost 5 years ago

    Start with questions. Actually, try to focus most of your feedback to be in the form of questions—information gathering—than explicit comments.

    Questions leave room for answers, they also help you learn about the work/problem space. Because the reality is, more often than not, we approach a work without having full context of it; the constraints, the objective, the audience, what explorations went into the work, what trade-offs were deliberately made, etc.

    Ask questions about the things you want to provide feedback on, first and foremost.

    If you can't ask questions, at least provide a constructive path forwards. e.g. "You can try [this] instead of [this] to help [reason]."

    To quote former VP of Design at Twitter Mike Davidson:

    "You should treat your critiques as investigations or explorations and not conclusions."

    More on that here: https://mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2017/06/how-to-give-helpful-product-design-feedback

    4 points
  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, almost 5 years ago

    I feel like unless you write a lengthy post with caveats galore that no one will want to read, you can almost always be construed as an asshole.

    3 points
    • Account deleted almost 5 years ago

      I was trying to find a way to write this but couldn't. You nailed it.

      2 points
  • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 5 years ago

    Dirk's guide to critique that doesn't suck

    1) Skip the fucken pleasantries

    "Awesome!", "I love it!" and "Beautiful!" are not useful as critique/feedback. In fact, these are 100% opinion and add nothing. Doesn't mean you can't say nice things. Just be specific.

    Examples of good critique:

    • "Lovely contrast. Super easy to read even with the sun on the screen!"
    • "using the logo's rounded bottom right corner on the buttons was a great bit of branding!"
    • "the colours you picked clash, but that really fits the contradictory nature of the message you're trying to get across!"

    (Don't forget exclamation marks! Everybody loves exclaiming!)


    Design is about telling stories. Whether the story is a brand new homepage or an error box, it's trying to get a message across.

    It is imperative for a designer to hear what message is being put across. This puts EVERY other shred of feedback into that context, as opposed to the original context within which the design was made.

    The reason this needs to be stated out loud is that everyone will have their own interpretation of anything they read or see. Does "please close this window" mean you should close the modal, the browser tab or the whole browser instance?

    3) Only consider the true knowns.

    You're going to be guessing a lot while doing critique. And guessing is done best out loud, in front of people that know the initial brief.

    You'll be guessing their meaning, their goal, their message.

    What you won't be guessing:

    • How gestalt principles apply to design
    • What display sizes are out there in the wild
    • How an API works
    • That people will look at the cleavage before they see the CTA button
    • That "click here" doesn't specify what will happen when you click
    • How search engines index
    • How a projector makes low contrast text/background unreadable


    Those are the things you'll be commenting on. Not on "I don't like blue". Not on "italics rub me wrong". And also not on "I like dogs better than cats".

    In closing:

    First off, here's some feedback I've given on DN: https://www.designernews.co/stories/97836

    The fun thing is, you can reverse this feedback. If people don't do these things, you can tell them "thank you for your feedback, I'll take that into consideration!" and ignore the fuck out of it. Address it if required, but generally speaking, you want to keep asking questions of people until you get feedback that fits within the above guidelines.

    Enjoy feedbackering others, and feel free to feed me back on this guide too. Feedy feed feed. Feet.


    2 points
  • Lukasz PrzywartyLukasz Przywarty, almost 5 years ago

    Maybe my presentation will be helpful: https://www.slideshare.net/LukaszPrzywarty/better-design-feedback-117571002

    1 point
  • Azmir S., almost 5 years ago

    I share views with @Steven and @Tanner - both raise relevant points and a warning.

    You can critique the work, in general, but never the person as you do not know what additional forces influenced the brief or decisions. Is your critique about style or function? Is the critique from real usage or just your opinion of how else it could have been handled? Guiding Principle for critique: Never critique the work of another on social media unless you want to be known as an asshole, publicly.

    You will inevitably underline your own understanding of the complexities of the design process with the questions you ask, and with that, surface the challenges of the work being critiqued. Guiding Principle for critique: The best form of critique in any medium is the with quality of clarifying questions.

    Do you want someone raking you over the coals in public? Unless you hold public office or are elected into a position, there are better ways to engage. Guiding Principle for critique: Praise accomplishments publicly. Give negative feedback one-on-one, or wrap it in an in-depth and well rounded assessment. Unless its a western style call-out - then, good luck to you.

    If you want to rant and engage in a ranting bitch-fest, go ahead. It seems that the internet is full of places where that is the preferred expression. But, your opinions must amount to something of real value for those in the field, otherwise you're just another troll riding a topic for your own ego and exposure. You can do that, I guess. But, A) Its not OK, and B) be prepared to struggle with gaining credibility and respect of those in the field. ** Guiding Principle for critique:** Only critique the effectiveness of the result, compared to what was before.

    If you want some examples of how your your question is best approached on the ground and examples of the principles in action, look to: John Gruber, Armin Vit, Mike Monteiro. In most cases you see a very effective critique and commentary. There are more great examples, and these names are likely to be familiar in this community.

    0 points
    • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 5 years ago

      Never critique the work of another on social media unless you want to be known as an asshole, publicly.


      I reckon we need to stop being precious about this. Critique is GOOD. Getting it for free is a privilege.

      1) We've gotta interpret feedback differently.

      If someone says "your shit sucks", you punch the "block" button. If they say "I don't get the message you're trying to get across", you can fucken well say "thank you, that's solid critique!".

      2) Giving feedback is an art. Get good at it.

      You'll be given and giving feedback the rest of your life, especially as a designer. Get good at it.

      Unsolicited feedback can be great. Even in a public forum. Just gotta put the EFFORT into making it solid feedback. And not expect a response. And not be a dickhead about things.

      Just my 2 cents! And you've already mentioned part of this in your post (giving good feedback) but it needed a bit of highlighting since this is kind of important. I don't think we principally disagree. Just the wording of "Never critique the work of another [...]".

      (Having said this - I don't often do unsolicited feedback as I don't feel I have the time. This excludes discussions like this one, which, in a way, is feedback as well, that you didn't ask for :p)

      4 points
      • Azmir S., almost 5 years ago

        Good points indeed. Perhaps I read too much "your shit sucks" in various forums without some thoughtful "let me tell you why I say that..." following it up. Your clarification with #2 hits the nail on the head.

        Thanks for that.

        2 points
        • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 5 years ago

          Yeah, I 100% where you came from with everything you said!

          It's just one of those things that we've all been doing wrong for a long time :) And I do mean "we". I'm guilty of shit feedback as well :D

          0 points