Give and Receive Feedback as a UX Designer – Design Critique Sessions

Give and receive feedback as a UX designer is critical for the job because it helps improving your design work as early as possible. Feedback – asking for or receiving ideas about what is or isn’t working. Good feedback helps to come up with new questions or ideas that you might not have thought about before. This can help you find ways to improve your work. It helps build your confidence and skills as well as broaden your perspective as a designer.

It can be scary and uncomfortable at first. As you go through your first and second design critique sessions, you will find it more intuitive and getting comfortable. Remember the goal is to improve your design and nothing personal here.

On the other hand, you will also play a role as the feedbackwe giver. Here a few things that you might want to take into account for when giving feedback. Adjusting for each situation. For example, the experience level of the designer. You want to give respect feedbacks that reflect that. Have a reason to support your feedback.

Lastly, describe problems with the design, not offer solutions. It is better for designer to let the feedback seek in and figure out how to fix the problem on their own. It shows respect and as well as giving the designer to explore their own potential.

Design critique session

Design critique session – a planned period of time where UX designers present their work to team members and listen to feedback. Critiques are a great opportunity to practice giving and receiving feedback to and from fellow team members.

During a critique, your team gathers to explore new ideas and possible directions for a design. These are planned ahead of time with an agenda and set objectives, so you’ll have time to prepare and bring fresh ideas to the table.

Design critiques roles

A design critique session is made up of three groups of participants: facilitator, presenter, and reviewer.

Facilitator – is a person in charge of running the critique session and guiding the feedback process. They may keep track of the time and create the agenda and goals for the meeting. Facilitator also ensures that everyone in the meeting is included and gets to share their ideas. Not all design critiques include a facilitator, but in many cases, epseically when working with a large team, one can be very helpful.

Presenter – is the designer sharing their work with the team throughout the session. This could also be a group of designers who worked together. Designs might be shared directly from Figma or Adobe XD, like screen share, or slideshare using Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint with images of their designs. As a designer, you’ll often take on the role of presenter. Make sure you engage with others in the meeting and prepare to ask questions and offer feedback.

Reviewers – offers feedback on the designs presented and what steps are needed to improve the designs. There are often multiple reviewers and multiple critique sessions to look at the design from different perspectives.

Notetaker – there may be a fourth role of notetaker, who documents the ideas and keeps track of all the feedback so the conversations can flow without interruption. The notetaker will likely record notes in a digital document so the notes can be shared with the entire group later.

All these roles work to create effective solutions to strengthen your designs. Throughout your UX design career, you’ll get the chance to facilitate, present, and review in a critique session.

The design critique process

Design critiques can take many forms, depending on the work being reviewed and the number of participating members. There is no one “right” way to conduct a critique, it’s important to prepare and plan the session ahead of time.

Typically, the facilitator opens the session by going over the meeting’s objectives and goals. These objectives should be clear and time-specific. For exmple, “We need to update all the current mocks before next week.” Then, the presenter shares their designs, during which reviewers start to prepare their feedback and gather any ideas or questions. Reviewers should jot down both what they like and what they’d like to improved in the designs.

Reviewers should also take time to explain this feedback. The presenter will then clarify the feedback and guide everyone through their process for the designs. Lastly, the facilitator closes by addressing any lingering questions or topics not covered in the session.

Best practices for a critique session

When it comes to presenting in design critique sessions, preparation is key. This is your chance to showcase your work to your peers. You’ll want to guide reviewers through your thinking behind the designs and explain how they align with the product’s goals.

Here are five questions to help you focus:

  1. Who are you designing for?
  1. What problem are you trying to solve?
  1. How are your designs solving or not solving those problems?
  1. Where in the design process are you?
  1. What aspects of your designs are you seeking feedback on?

These questions help to explain the core aspects of the designs better. It will also help reviewers provide you with better feedback. Be mindful of the length of the session. You’ll need enough time to not just present, but discuss your ideas with reviewers and allow for follow-up questions. You can speed up the process by sharing your designs before the session so that everyone can be ready to discuss their feedback with you.

Receiving feedback

Processing feedback on the spot can be overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to ask reviewers to clarify their thoughts. You can also take time after the session to plan how you’ll apply the feedback you received during the session.

Actively listen to everyone comment you receive. Don’t interrupt reviewers or offer explanations unless asked to do so. Instead, focus on asking questions about their feedback to grasp their perspectives. Plan to have a notetaker if necessary, so that you can focus on the discussion.

Once you’re ready to refine your designs based on the session’s feedback, review any notes and pointers so you don’t miss any of them. You are in charge of your designs, so you don’t have to incorporate every suggestion you receive; just be prepare to explain your choices once you share your designs with your team again. In other words, be preapred to defend your choice even if you have to reject other’s feedback as long as it is actually fit better for the user.

The value of a critique session is inevitable and is a great way to sharpen your design skills and build relationships with your teammates. For more tips, check out this article on Medium: practical guide to running effective design critiques.

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