Just because one "knows nothing" doesn't mean they can't provide you with valuable feedback. Especially in design...
The most valuable feedback I've received throughout my career was by watching people who "know nothing" interact with things that I produce.
I have to agree that you don't have to be a designer in order to be qualified to give design feedback, and design and art are indeed fundamentally different.
However, I did take away something valuable from this (regardless of if it were the intention of the author or not). When a fellow creative professional criticizes your work, you should challenge them to arrive at a solution with you. It should never be "here's what I hate about it, now you figure out how to fix it". That's not collaborative design, and that's not constructive critique.
I've found that the best way to initiate that kind of deeper collaboration is not to immediately defend your work, but rather to become very inquisitive. Ask questions and try to understand what and (more importantly) why the individual is critiquing your work.
This is helpful for different reasons, depending on the motive of the critique:
- Legitimate critique. Here, you'll show a genuine concern for the feedback, a desire for collaboration, and an ability to really get to the bottom of what needs to be done. You may also help the person realize that their critique was misguided, though that shouldn't be your motive if the critique is legitimate. Which brings me to...
- Illegitimate critique. When an individual is critiquing your work just for the sake of critique (be it to feel important, embarrass you, or gain political power), you can absolutely destroy their argument through inquisition. Because, after all, if their feedback is illegitimate, the answers that you receive will eventually reveal that on their own. However, if you don't inquire and you just accept the critique, the opposite happens. You'll receive useless feedback and appear to be under-prepared.
When I was a junior designer, I worked with someone that would criticize work simply to come off as the superior designer. They would use fancy words and deliver feedback that was very indirect and non-specific (which actually made them seem smarter, because I couldn't understand anything). This was really frustrating for me, because I would try to implement their feedback, but I could never get it right. I just couldn't see what they meant; I couldn't identify what was wrong.
Then I started asking questions; really trying to understand. With each piece of feedback, we would get 2-3 questions in, and it would fall apart. I would walk the designer around to agreeing with me, without ever defending my work.
Don't defend your work. Ask questions and let the other people in the room either arrive at your conclusion for you, or paint a better picture that helps you genuinely improve the design.
sure, when you only design to impress other designers or if you only work for designers.
Ridiculous. Design and art are very different.
Does the average user of a website or product 'know nothing'? if so should we never test with them? or ship them anything to use?
Don't do a big reveal, that's what I take from this. You end up opening a door of soul destroying and often useless feedback.
Drip feed an idea and when presenting work suggest how feedback should be framed; big one for me being 'this is about the look and feel at this stage, ignore copy and labelling as this can be changed or addressed further down the line'.
This is why you need moderators during a critique.
The difference between art and design. Design needs to solve questions. Art creates questions.