Gathering Feedback Through Continuous Loops
Feedback is constructive criticism that moves projects forward. Giving and receiving notes is crucial for creating transparency and helps people on a project team feel satisfied with their work.
Criticism is a vital part of the design process that makes us better at our craft. Collecting reactions early and often aligns a team and builds project momentum, for instances.
The guide objective of this section is to drive a project forward by confidently using reactions from your project team, customers and stakeholders.
Goals of Using Feedback
The goal of collecting reactions is to challenge design assumptions, improve the product and service, and inspire team collaboration.
- Understand that feedback is an opportunity, not a problem. Any notes we collect should not be perceived as a blocker. While not all the responses will be good, we must not push it away before we’ve even understood what it means.
- Make feedback specific and actionable. Create project momentum by making the suggestions doable.
Teams that solicit and give good feedback are more likely to create compelling and meaningful products and services. Collecting reactions in the design process should be happening continuously and the team has a choice to make this exciting or belaboring.
Constructive criticism moves projects forward
Putting work in front of others for criticism isn’t easy because a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into the work.
- Feedback is meant to elicit constructive criticism from others to move a project forward. Separate the work from the person.
- Negative responses can feel like outright rejection. It’s about the work, not a reflection of one’s talent.
- It’s hard to see the flaws in one’s own work because you’re too close to it.
Feedback is a vital part of the design process
- Giving criticism is one of the most underrated professional skill in business.
- Continuous loops help to create efficiency, is educational and informative, gets good ideas going, and can be a morale booster.
- Get reactions early and often from the team and from potential users as you design.
- Feedback can be a roadblock for some people.
It’s not as easy as it looks, especially when working in creative environments where opinions do matter
- Schools don’t encourage students to critique one another, and it mostly comes from the teacher. Teams typically expect critiques to come from their bosses and don’t seek it from their peers.
- Effective notes take work, but it’s crucial for creating transparency.
- Most people avoid being critical as feedback can be intensely personal. It’s hard to separate yourself from your work. Criticism is about the work, not you personally.
- It can be a struggle to incorporate other team members’ feedback without disrupting your own creative vision.
Planning for feedback can help reduce the complexities of managing it
Spend the time to get prepared and approach the right people. Collect reactions as early as possible to get buy-in from the team.
- Feedback is difficult to collect. Asking for notes can make you anxious, and giving them can be equally paralyzing.
- Keep in mind that design is iterative. Designers rarely have the right answer the first go around.
- Soliciting feedback takes a lot of practice. It’s easier to collect responses through iteration, as many quick iterations are better than one slow iteration.
- Don’t collect notes willy nilly. Create smaller time frames to collect responses and use the right tools to get reactions.
Receiving and collecting feedback should be structured
- When asking for feedback on a project, know what will help the team. Tell someone specifically what type of notes are needed. Don’t ask: “What do you think of this thing?”
- Know what your next step is before asking.
- Don’t let people get ahead of the design process, or encourage them to give unnecessary notes.
- Translate code words like, “make it pop” by asking for additional, specific feedback.
- Validate feedback that drives an agenda by repeating it to a group. Highlight exactly what answers you’re looking for in your feedback request. Don’t leave questions open-ended.
- Give your team a written outline of the feedback you’re looking for before showing a concept in person.
- Create a directive with specific examples and questions. A specific question makes it easier to surface feedback that can be acted upon.
- Explain the benefit of each section every step of the way, and how it fits into the larger design. If it’s over email, or a feedback tool, make sure the questions are contextual.
- Seek out those team members who can visualize concepts and offer ways to improve your idea. Choose specific people you’d like answers from. Don’t leave it up to the customer or teammate to show the work to whomever. The marketing team might have some valuable things to say, but shooting out work to the executive team may not be wise.
- Be directive and proactive — call out specific people for different types of feedback.
- Make sure the feedback you get is directly related to moving the project along. No need to revisit the issues or concerns about work that has already closed down. Make sure a time limit is specified when feedback is solicited because ideas need continuity.
- Be willing to fight for ideas. Be prepared to back up choices with concrete numbers or competitive examples that have either worked or failed.
If you don’t provide context, you will not receive good feedback
- Email is a terrible place to get criticism. Get feedback on actual design work and show the design work for in-person feedback.
- Show people how to give feedback. Let people vote with a pen and give them sticky notes to leave their thoughts on.
- For example, sticky notes are especially effective with storytellers who might distract a session with too much talking. Demand thumbs up or down for each idea.
- In person, lets you hear tone and read body language.
- Repeat feedback in the form of a question to build confidence.
- Get feedback directly on the work for online responses.
- Remember, keep a loose context with each iteration so feedback is not lost.
Art of giving good feedback in teams
- Is the feedback specific and actionable? Make sure you spell out what changes you want now. And what you consider are future changes. If you’re working with a designer, don’t leave it up to the designer to guess what you want. Let them know your thoughts.
- Is the feedback contextual? It should be able to quickly identify what your suggestions mean. Don’t be cryptic. Keep it contextual and stay with the project.
- Does the feedback encourage the team? Get people excited about your insights, remove any roadblocks. Save any negative remarks for a private conversation. Don’t, however, sugar coat mistakes or problems.
- Can the team execute on the feedback? Don’t pile a lot of feedback on your team without making sure they have adequate time and the right skill set to execute on it. Make arrangements beforehand if any part of the project requires special attention or a specialist to chip in. Break down the feedback and expected actions into smaller, attainable chunks.
- Ask questions, such as: Does it improve the site’s usability? Is the value in line with the work? Can this be pushed back?
- Be willing to admit you’re wrong. By admitting you’re wrong, you’ll end up asking specific questions, which will more easily ferret out potential solutions to problems.
- Sometimes giving feedback is best in-person because body language and tone of voice can reveal insights. It can be easier to get to the heart of the matter.
Here are some quick notes to deliver and receive feedback
- Make it specific and bring the design work to the meeting.
- Respect your team.
- Assess the problems, not the solutions.
- Present any riffs with a sketch or visual. Sketches provide clarity and create momentum.
- Timing is everything.
- If the team doesn’t take notes, you have a problem.
- You don’t need to test 41 shades of blue to give feedback, but you should know what you are talking about.
- Use the bandwagon effect to support your ideas.
- Showing examples adds context to your feedback.
- Use data to support an idea.
Getting feedback to stick
- Requires meaningful responses to attract attention. Notes are how you show you give a damn!
- Being direct to reduce confusion.
- Repeating the feedback to insure understanding.
- Summarizing big ideas to simplify the message.
- Shown in-person to show emotion. The phone works too!
- Giving more than lists of item — inspire action! Feedback can inspire!
- Using empathy encourages participation. Do you want to be right or loved?
Make you and your team take notes when feedback is given
- Build trust with your audience by taking notes. It shows you are listening to the feedback for which you are asked.
- When collecting feedback, there are a number of things to consider. Tone, body language, repetition and fidgety hand movement indicate importance.
- It’s appropriate to ask upfront want people want to discuss as it will reduce friction later on.
- Repeat the takeaways and ask for any additional feedback.
- Find tools that enable good feedback and know that notes can be a presentation.
The Feedback Roles You’ll Encounter
The biggest design challenge, when faced with a lot of feedback, is figuring out who to listen to. There are a lot of personalities that give feedback.
- Wants the project to succeed.
- She’s someone that can be your advocate.
- Look to leverage her positive attitude.
- Her feedback might come across as being passive because she softens her feedback.
- Full of thoughts and wants to be heard.
- Going against his ideas may bring yours into sharper focus.
- The team may ignore his suggestions.
- It’s best to acknowledge the feedback this type of personality offers.
- Challenges every idea on the table.
- Maybe she is looking for better answers.
- She may just be difficult to work with.
- Look at where she exposes the holes in your logic.
- Make sure you’re not overlooking valuable feedback.
- This person has an agenda and plans to move on it.
- Try to assess her goals.
- Corporate climbers usually have goals closely aligned with corporate strategy.
- Her advice is worth listening to understand the business.
Feedback is an Important Part of Design
Design literacy is important and using the words of the trade can inspire your team to take note.
For instance, feedback can be used to:
- Find the right directive text
- Inspire beautiful design
- Define a great interaction design
- Create a compelling business case
- Craft hunches for testing
Feedback produces hunches for testing
The responses you collect are a great way to gather hunches!
A hunch is a prediction about how your design affects the user and what changes might be needed to produce desired behaviors.
To create a hunch, start with the information you already have about your customers and make predictions about how your design modifications will effect their reactions. However, this is a great time to pull together a group of coworkers/friends that knows your target audience.
Start collecting feedback from your team and target audience with a free Helio account. Or you can use this easy peasy test template to start!
Next Up: Storytelling