Feedback: How to Keep Everybody Happy

Feedback is an essential part of the design business, but it’s also the trickiest. “Whether you are a professional designer, freelancer, client, friend or boss, learning to give and receive effective feedback is an essential skill,”  says Andrew Follett from’s blog. I have found a couple of other online articles that compile a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to giving feedback on a project from both ends of the spectrum (client and designer).

Why get Feedback in the first place?

  1. Helps avoid mistakes
    1. A costly problem caught early can be fixed
  2. Higher quality of work
    1. Instead of getting stuck with a less than great project you can strive to make a higher quality result
  3. Keeps everybody on the same team
    1. If everybody checks in on what’s going, nobody well get a surprise with end result
  4. Newer or better ideas can get implemented
    1. Sometimes great ideas come after approval of a design or project. This is a way you can get your ideas heard

General Rules

  1. Get out materials in advance
    1. If everybody is prepared ahead of time, nobody is bombarded and put on the spot.
  2. Keep things brief
  3. Provide feedback, but not discussions
    1. Set up a time after the meeting for discussions
  4. Keep a recurring order with conversation
    1. Give everybody an equal amount of time to talk

Getting Feedback

  1. Start by clarifying the objective
    1. Make sure everybody is on the same page
  2. Be specific with the feedback you want
  3. Listen
    1. Keep an open mind, because you’re looking for a different insight in the first place
  4. Invite constructive criticism
    1. Remember everybody is on the same team
    2. Don’t let your pride get in the way
  5. Take the advice
    1. Not everything, but use what you get to make good changes to your project

Giving Feedback

  1. Be respectful
    1. Follow the golden rule
    2. Take into consideration who you’re talking to and the situation at hand
  2. Be specific
    1. Give examples with your feedback; the more specific, the better
    2. If the person can get a better understanding why you want them to change something, they may more readily accept that change.
  3. Provide justification
    1. Give reasoning with your feedback
    2. If they know why you feel that way, they may understand it better
  4. Balance the positives and negatives
    1. Keeping a healthy balance of pros and cons keeps everyone happy
  5. “Have you Considered?”
    1. Use this phrase to gently give another opinion
    2. This gives the designer the opportunity to offer their reasoning and not feel “under attack”


  • DON’T tell anyone what they can or can’t provide feedback on
    • By doing so you defeat the purpose of having feedback
  • DON’T try to solve problems in the critique room – it’s too time-consuming
    • This is a chance to hear other perspectives.
  • DON’T be a jerk, be constructive
    • This mostly goes without saying. You’re all on the same team.

All in all, when it comes to feedback, a respectful relationship is needed. If you respect each other’s opinions and feelings as well as keep an open mind, getting feedback on projects doesn’t have to be a nightmare.