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Product Designer at Lyft Joined over 5 years ago
Reading is certainly a powerful way of gathering knowledge and insights from others, most importantly reading can expose us to diverse perspectives. But that's only really true if you read broadly.
If you read the same types of material on the same subject simply to confirm your perspective of the world it won't do much in the way of adding fuel for creative thinking.
But this is true of most activities which expose you to new perspectives. Read if you find that enjoyable, yes, but you can also be creatively energized by traveling and talking to new people, picking up new and different hobbies, trying to learn almost anything new (programming, mechanical engineering, knitting, a new language, etc.).
Better yet: don't limit yourself to simply reading a lot, but indulge in diverse experiences and open yourself to opportunities in different ways to truly build up a creative reservoir.
Sidebar is one of the few newsletters I subscribe to. The content is almost always refreshing, unique, and very clearly hand-picked.
Such a universal statement from you doesn't really work, as I'm sure you know. Three example scenarios come to mind:
If you're getting feedback from random people on Dribbble saying "I don't like this" you're going to have a difficult time sussing out what exactly it is they don't like, whether or not the feedback matters, etc.
If you're in a design critique and a design manager says "I don't like this" you have a better chance of digging into that feedback to make it valuable, but such an instance merely demonstrates poor management and the likelihood of a hangup here is high (as we've all sign in any critique with junior designers and managers conversing).
But then more nuanced than those examples, if the feedback from a peer you're sitting one-on-one with, you then have a good chance to make the feedback valuable by digging in with them.
So saying feedback like "I don't like this" is helpful is really not accurate. But, again, it's not universal one way or the other.
My point is simply that it's not much to strive for better feedback in our industry. And statements like yours lower the bar rather than raise it.
"I don't like this because it doesn't feel aligned with the larger brand" or" I don't like this because it's hard for my old eyes to read" are vastly more helpful in each of the instances I outlined above, immediately more directional or guiding, and take at most a second more to say.
Simply curious: how would someone saying "I don't like it" be helpful to anyone?
In this case, you would have to invest time to dig into the feedback and understand exactly what the person doesn't like about the work. And if what they don't like isn't applicable to the design constraints or use case how helpful is the feedback really? There's also the point of: who is providing the feedback? In what forum? What's their experience with the work (did they look at it for 20 seconds or have they been trying to use the design for a few weeks)? What's their relationship to you (a client saying "I don't like this" is vastly different than a random design student on the internet)? etc.
I assume you didn't actually mean "I don't like it" but rather used that as a generic example, but the point still stands: such feedback isn't helpful to anyone. To try and convince yourself otherwise would mean your role as a designer is merely to create aesthetically pleasing work (but even then you can't make everyone happy so then we're back at my first point).
This is undoubtedly a handy resource and well put together, but at what point does a list like this (500+!!?) simply serve the same purpose as Googling "prototyping tools"?
Some feedback about your site:
You ask visitors to subscribe for "early access" before telling or showing them what they're signing up for. Consider moving the email field lower to account for more information up top.
All of the screenshots are extremely skewed, making it close to impossible to see what the product offers. Skewed screenshots at sharp angles might look really dynamic and cool to designers, but to would-be-customers they just provide headaches.
"The messaging app for productive teams" is an extremely vague tagline. Is there something more specific to the product you could tout up-top? Maybe just: "The best parts of email and chat combined"?
Capitalize some of your sentences, as it will dramatically help users skimming the site. Having every single title, headline, and sentence start with a lowercase letter makes it really difficult to parse what's on the page.
Way too much empty space. White space can be really good for creating a strong balance on a page, or for captivating users to look where you want them to, but on this page it just seems like things are broken by how far out they're spread across the vertical space of the page. You could tighten it up and create a more energetic, better flowing page.
The article has many great points, particularly when it comes to setting the stage for a healthy, constructive critique. Really well written as well, the article shares a very down-to-earth and realistic perspective that I think many articles tend to lack in hopes of coming across as being an "expert" in the field. Thanks for sharing your experience and lessons-learned Stuart!
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."
Looks interesting. Some questions to consider:
What's your criteria?
When someone says something is the "best" it's helpful to know what their definition is. If what matters to the reviewer is, for example, speed and cost, that might be different than someone who has unlimited budget and needs immensely powerful (albeit slower) tooling. One designer may need a tool that can export in many different sizes with one click, another designer may need a tool that allows them to carefully review every single export to ensure pixel-perfect files.
EDIT: Just realized there's a small link to a table of how reviews were made... I'd bring that information more up-front, or highlight it in some other format since it's really the meat of what you've done.
Who is "we" reviewing the software?
Do you have a team of designers across software/product design, illustration, branding, etc.? If you're going by web reviews or some other source, list that information out. Having an illustrator review product design software isn't as impactful as having an experienced product designer do the review.
I recently wrote an article titled "What we don't talk about when we talk about design tools" which may or may not be helpful for you at this point: https://uxdesign.cc/what-we-dont-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-design-tools-8cb4339ae54b
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