Tips on How to Give Constructive Criticism

November 28, 2023

Giving constructive criticism is a crucial aspect of the design process, yet it often presents challenges in effectively communicating insightful feedback. Fortunately, "Discussing Design" by Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry offers invaluable insights into navigating critique conversations with clarity and empathy. Let's explore some key principles from the book that can elevate our approach to giving constructive criticism.

One of the fundamental strategies outlined in “Discussing Design” is the use of open-ended questions to guide feedback discussions. Rather than resorting to subjective opinions or prescriptive directives, asking thoughtful questions encourages designers to articulate their rationale and explore alternative perspectives. Let’s keep it real and dive into some simple tweaks we can make to our feedback approach:

  1. Instead of declaring, “This layout feels outdated,” ask, “What made you go with this layout?”
  2. Rather than bluntly stating, “I don’t vibe with this font,” try, “What made you choose this font? Got any cool reasons?”
  3. Skip the generic, “The imagery seems meh,” and opt for, “What’s the deal with these images?”
  4. Instead of just saying, “I’d prefer something different,” ask, “Did you explore any other ideas? What got you hooked on this one?”
  5. Instead of saying, “I’m not feeling the color scheme,” try asking, “What made you pick these colors? Any story behind them?”

Here are some examples of open-ended questions inspired by "Discussing Design" that can guide your feedback conversations:

  1. “Could you tell me more about what your objectives were for [specific aspect of the design]?”
  2. “What other options did you consider for [design element]?”
  3. “Why did you choose this approach over the alternatives?”
  4. “Were there any influencers or constraints that affected your choices during the design process?”
  5. “Where are you in your process, and what aspects are you currently focusing on?”
  6. “What can I help you with the most at this stage of the project?”

See, asking questions like these not only shows that you’re genuinely interested in the designer’s thought process but also helps them open up about their decisions. It’s all about fostering a collaborative vibe and creating an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

Now, if you’re curious about delving deeper into the world of constructive criticism and design communication, “Discussing Design” is definitely a book worth checking out. You can easily find it on Amazon, and trust me, it’s a game-changer for anyone looking to hone their feedback skills. Remember, giving constructive criticism is an art, not a science.

So, embrace the journey, keep those questions flowing, and watch your design discussions level up in no time. You got this!

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