Designers: 3 Steps to Better Feedback Calls

For designers and project managers, feedback calls can often seem like bridges to nowhere: well intentioned, important, and ineffective. There are typically two less than ideal outcomes to these calls: the designer kowtows to the client’s wishes sacrificing key design elements, or, the client compromises their vision to prevent going over-budget.

As a content creator and designer, I’ve experienced the often painful and unending feedback calls from both ends of the phone. Here’s the good news: feedback calls don’t have to be painful. In fact, there are three things designers can do ensure your next feedback session gets you, your client and the designed asset safely over to the other side.

1. Go “Don Draper” and pitch your clients on creative.

We initially thought bringing our clients into the philosophy behind every decision would bore them. After all, would they really care about the seemingly insignificant changes that make all the difference? While the kerning may not excite them, bringing them into the why of decision-making helped clients understand our level of commitment to creating something excellent. Designers are already hyper-conscious about the environment and experience they create, why hide that intentionality from our clients?

2. Own your feedback process, don’t react to someone else’s.

Rather than asking clients for feedback via email on a design asset, schedule a call to go over it together on the phone. Your clients are busy and shifting from project to project, when reviewing an intensive element such as design, it’s in your best interest and theirs if you guide the feedback process to focus on the right things. When you explain the reasoning behind certain decisions, it helps your client better understand what they are reviewing and what you need to know from them to drive it to a final destination.

For example, “This is one concept I have to accentuate the importance of this quote. Doing it like this helps the audience to know this is something to pay attention to. Is this accomplishing that?”

Asking questions about specific decisions prevents the client from feeling obligated to come up with feedback.

3. Ask your clients how much time they need to give feedback.

Some clients like to discuss the asset as soon as you send it over. Others want to invite it over for dinner, give it a glass of wine and come back to it again the next morning. Both are valuable and allowing your client to tell you upfront how much time they need is in your best interest as well as theirs.

If your clients are social learners, they will prefer to collaborate with you by reviewing the project in real time on a call or in person. They are typically, but not always auditory and visual learners which means a lot will be accomplished right away.

If your clients are solitary learners, they are usually more analytical and logical and should receive these assets at least 24 hours in advanced to review in-depth on their own. They will also value receiving from you an agenda or specific questions to cover on the call so that they can prepare their answers.

What’s worked for you?

Have you had a really great or really negative experience? Whether you are a Designer or Content Creator, we’d love to hear your stories! We always value learning from the experiences of others.