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Speaking designish: we figure out how to give effective feedback to creatives

“Please tell me how to write to him/her so that it is finally done normally” is a phrase that customers often write to their friends, designers, and art directors, hoping that they will help them to choose magic words that will build a bridge of mutual understanding with creators. There is no golden rule, but a few pieces of advice to take under consideration while talking to creatives. 

Synchronize

When hiring a designer for a project or introducing to a team, it is crucial to understand exactly what level and style he has. No matter how strange it may sound: but two identical designers do not exist. They work differently with fonts, styles, and scale. It may differ as to the professional level and taste pump.
Before starting a project – synchronize. Find out what the designer considers the right style. Perhaps it will be very minimalistic for you, and, probably, on the contrary – very boldly. It is also essential to look at the latest designer’s works or simply ask for a link to Dribbble. Find out what was the most difficult in the project – so you can get the idea of the skill level.

Speak the business language or find someone who will do it for you

Design — in translation from English means ‘Engineering’. The word in Slavic languages has lost this connotation and became associated with creativity, which is not entirely true. UI / UX, as well as graphic design, primarily solves the business problem.

Of course, aesthetics is important. If the product is competitive and not very unique (bank loans, household appliances, new online service), then the overall impression of the design will create value. But even in this case, it is vital to highlight the fundamental business problem and build on it. For example:

Your product is an alarm system. A topic that immediately suggests thoughts about fraudsters, thieves, and leaves a disturbing feeling. The right decision would be to develop a design that has to itself and gives a sense of security. It is preferable to use soothing tones, non-aggressive fonts, and credible images. A famous youth institution, on the contrary, should evoke a feeling of belonging to a get-together and respond to the spirit of the times. His usual to see in bright and cheerful colors.

You should always understand why a design is created. If your designer does not think in terms of marketing, add a marketing team that assesses how the picture fits the business task and turns the business language into a clear task so that the designer can work with objects, not with meanings.

Give examples

Remember the important rule: there is no such thing as too many examples. They help to understand what is challenging to figure out during a conversation or filling out a brief. Samples are needed to denote:

  •  Character and style – it will be much easier for the designer to understand whether the result of his work should be provocative or neutral, experimental, or more traditional.
  • The clarity of the problem – if you give examples that contradict each other in style, meaning, and presentation – be prepared for the designer to notice this.
    References (as designers call their favorite examples) are a kind of The Rorschach Test. Good designers will definitely figure out what you see in the picture, and why this is important for you.

Be positive

Criticizing a designer is often counterproductive. Because of the subtleties of the work, designers feel quite subtly what is happening, and a direct negative can knock them off balance. Here are some tricks that can help make the message with the feedback more pleasant and productive:

Start with the right word: say that you are happy to get a job on time, or that there are new solutions in design. Try to praise something specific that appeals to you.
Do not address the person, address the work: The psychology rule says that the phrase: “You made several mistakes” provokes a negative and sabotage is much more than the words: “There are several mistakes in the design”. Try to be honest, but do not dominate the designer. If you hunt for excessive power – the designer may respond to hidden aggression: negligence, lack of punctuality, and ignorance.

Be Concrete

Refer to specific details. It is essential to avoid words that can be interpreted in a free manner. The more abstractions will be in your communication, the less useful will it be. Try to remove these words from your vocabulary:

  • Cool
  • Impressive
  • Wow
  • Handsome
  • Powerfully
  • Interesting
  • Original
  • A twist

When giving feedback, try to choose something specific, say what is wrong with it in your opinion, provide an alternative or a possible idea.

“It seems to me that the heading is lost – our product is not very different in packaging, and the consumer himself has been studying it for a long time. Could we increase the font so that it increases the chance of reading and is the central message?”

Conclusion: working with a design is like sex: disgusting, quick and homely, or passionate and exciting. It all depends on experience and approach.

— Design helps create value – respect it
If you already have a designer on your project, for sure, you understand that his work adds value and structure to the product, and ultimately everyone will benefit from it.

— Sometimes the designer knows best
Trust your designer like yourself. Basically, these are incredibly ambitious people, and you can be sure that they are not less affected by your joint project. Designers care about their reputation and are unlikely to do the sad shit consciously.

— Know your product and be ready for experiments.
Sometimes the best solution is to afford a little extra. If you understand well what your brand should broadcast and beyond what boundaries you are not ready to leave, leave the designer a field for experimentation. It will not be worse.

— Be positive
Working relationships with designers is still a relationship between two people. Stay adequate and if possible, do not go into direct conflict. Better by cunning.

Dariia Ponomarenko

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