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Creative jobs have an undeniable cool edge to them. Whenever someone asks the age-old question, “So what do you do?” And the answer is a creative field like UX UI design, product design, graphic design, film making, or motion graphics, the reaction is often a mix of amazement and envy.
People love working in creative fields and industries because it needs a different thinking approach. Getting a chance to work with colors, textures, and tones is fun and appeal to different parts of the brain.
While it is a lot of fun to work with creative teams, it is important to know how to give constructive feedback to creative teams on their work. Constructive feedback can result in a more advanced version of the existing design. However, incorrectly shared feedback can hamper creativity and bring the team’s morale down.
What is constructive feedback?
Before we start with the details on how to give constructive feedback, let us first agree on what is constructive feedback? There are a few essential elements that make any feedback constructive or destructive. Constructive feedback is specific and backed with reasoning and logic. It creates a good base for the creator to build on and evolve their work into a more refined version of their previous creation.
It addresses the good ideas that are already present and sheds light on the weakness of not-so-good ideas and what makes them weak. For example, while reviewing a logo design for a new application, destructive feedback would be, this is awful and we can never use something like this.
Whereas constructive criticism would mention, why the logo will not work for the particular application? Is it too similar to a pre-existing popular logo? Are the color and font used to do justice to the brand’s identity that is needed? Is it readable, memorable, or delightful?
Who is receiving this constructive criticism?
Another important factor to remember is whom are you giving the feedback? Is it your team consisting of your colleagues? Are they an external vendor who has been hired to do the job? Are they an expert in their field?
Depending on the level of experience and involvement in the role, the feedback should mention information that would help them accomplish their goals in a far more efficient manner. For example, a junior UI designer working on creating a new icon set would benefit from knowing how the design library was designed, what are the use cases, which devices will the application or site feature on among other things.
On the other hand, a senior UX designer working on a design system would benefit from knowing the user’s journey, the persona defined, the story behind the legacy systems being used, and more. Overload of information may overwhelm creative professionals working on granular tasks but will benefit experienced teams exploring new directions of solving an existing problem.
How to provide constructive feedback?
Before starting with the feedback, it is important to hear the creative teams out. Listen to their understanding, their thought process, and their approach. Try to understand what made them take a particular direction and how they feel it solves the purpose.
There are high chances that their reasoning may help you draft your feedback in a clear and concise way. Since it will be evident what led to this decision, you will be able to fill in the knowledge gaps or correct the inaccurate assumptions they may have about the process.
Once you have heard them, move on to addressing what works in the creative output, and what doesn’t. Ensure that you quote an example if something doesn’t work. In situations where it has more to do with the usability aspect than aesthetics, it is helpful to share the use cases.
In the case of purely aesthetic output, backing it with psychological facts and the environment in which it is going to be viewed is helpful.
To make the process of giving feedback to colleagues, peers or vendors simple for you, we have put together an infographic that can serve as a simple checklist. It is designed to cover the most important points to be remembered while giving constructive feedback.
Feel free to save the infographic and share it with your colleagues and creative teams. If you feel we missed something, please let us know in the comments. Remember, giving a feedback is all about enabling the creative teams to do their best work.