Design Feedback: 5 Essential Tips For Stronger Design Collaborations

design feedback

Outsourcing a brand’s design requirements is one of the most convenient ways to keep up with the ever-changing world of marketing. But let’s face it. Outsourcing designs is not as straightforward as it sounds. Communication gap is one of the biggest challenges many brands face while working with external design teams. There are two assets that can help tackle this and they are – design brief and design feedback. Let’s talk about design feedback today. 

Done right, design feedback goes a long way in strengthening client-designer relationships. But the key is knowing what to include in the feedback to minimize the back-and-forth communication. After all, while perfecting your designs you cannot forget the imminent deadlines! 

So, are you ready to hear about the art of giving design feedback? 

What is design feedback and why does it matter? 

When you work with a designer, things are not as simple as giving your requirements, getting your designs, and boosting your marketing effort. There are several smaller steps in between. And one among them is giving design feedback once the designer delivers the design.

Sometimes the design is good to go live in your campaign as it is. Sometimes it takes a few minor tweaks. Other times, there are major changes that need to be addressed. Your design feedback is what captures these recommendations. 

Perhaps you are thinking – why all the fuss, a simple email with the details about the changes will do! Well, we are talking about design collaborations between two parties who are probably poles apart. One is the client who knows what’s required for the campaign but does not know much about design. Another is a talented designer who perhaps does not know much about the brand or the campaign in the picture. Naturally, there can be differences in perspectives. That’s why structured feedback is important. 

Moreover, well-documented feedback ensures that nobody is working based on assumptions. Designers love to hear what the client thinks about the design and clients benefit from designers understanding their requirements better. In short, good design feedback creates a win-win situation. 

But yes, poorly crafted feedback can cause a lot of friction in the collaboration. So, let’s look at some tips to give better feedback every single time. 

5 tips to give effective design feedback 

1. Replace ambiguity with lucidity 

Have you heard of one of the biggest pet peeves of a designer? Hearing the feedback “make it pop” or “make the logo bigger”. 

Design feedback should not be vague. When you say you want the design to pop, you are not telling whether you want the designer to change the color or the fonts, or both. Instead, use simple and direct statements that explain what aspect of the design you wish to change. 

Do not assume that your designer knows your brand. Add more brand insights if required. Or if you think additional examples and brand designs will help, include them as well. The more specific you are, the more accurate will the revision be. 

2. Avoid conflicting requirements 

In design, every color, every font, and symbol is attached to a specific mood or emotion. And every design element has a role to play in the overall design. When you make requests for revisions, ensure that you accommodate the ultimate goal. You do not want to make conflicting comments that end up confusing your designer or leading to weak designs. 

For example, when you say that you want an overall vintage theme and you ask your designer to use an ultra-modern font or a weak one with thin line width, you are producing conflicting ideas. In this case, your designer might choose a traditional serif font and some muted colors for the vintage effect. So, when you suggest the use of fonts like say, Space Age, you are restricting the designer’s ability to deliver a harmonious theme. 

To avoid such conflicts in design, discuss your ideas with your designer and ask for alternatives rather than providing contradicting recommendations. 

3. Add as many examples and visual cues as possible 

The channel you use to communicate with your designer depends entirely on the chosen collaboration structure. If you are working with freelancers you might be communicating via email. When you work with design subscription services there is a dashboard where you can add your comments. 

Irrespective of where you communicate, ensure that your design feedback is as lucid and as visually descriptive as possible. In other words, use a lot of images, videos, and other visual examples to explain what you are looking for. 

For example, if you want small changes to the colors or text in one portion of the design, you can create screen recordings or screen captures to point the designer to the specific area. This ensures that the designer does not misunderstand the request, especially when you do not want any other aspect of the designer to be changed. 

4. Familiarize yourself with design terminology 

Enhancing your foundational design skills can improve the quality of collaboration a great deal. We are not talking about becoming an expert in a design tool. We are talking about getting to know the basic principles of design and a few useful design terms. 

When you know the basic design terms, you’ll know that your designs are much more accurate when you give your designer the CMYK code of a hue instead of saying that you want greenish blue and not bluish green

5. Involve all your stakeholders 

Design inputs for a campaign come from a variety of sources. This includes people in the management teams, marketing teams, and so on. Each team has a different take on what’s expected for the campaign and each might have a different opinion about the finished design. 

If you convey the feedback to your designer without discussing it with all the stakeholders, you might end up in a cycle of repeated revisions. This can be a big problem when you are working with traditional design services or even freelance designers since there might be a restriction on the number of revisions supported. 

With unlimited design services, you get unlimited revisions. But still, there’s the time factor. Changes big or small need time and effort and in the process, the core message in the design cannot be lost. 

To tackle this, involve all the stakeholders when you have to evaluate the delivered design. Summarize the ideas for revision and then place a revision request. This simplifies the process and saves time for everybody involved. 

In the end, it should be 2-way communication 

You can use all the above tips to draft your design feedback. At the same time, be open to accepting your designer’s opinions too. 

Keeping the conversations open-ended makes design collaborations so much better. You might have some great ideas for your brand and your designs but a fresh perspective can make a big difference. 

The recent rebranding of Baskin Robbins is a good example of the magic that happens when you trust your designers. The rebranding design was done by ChangeUp, a retail branding agency. The job was to create an identity that strengthens the loyalty of existing customers and win new ones. The creative agency chose to bring back the old circus vibes that made the very first Baskin Robbins logo a hit. 

Baskin Robbins logo from 1953 Source 
New and updated logo in use since 2022 Source 

From the original colors to fonts that capture the original theme, ChangeUp paid attention to a lot of little details. And yet the logo looks perfectly relevant to contemporary times considering the diverse demographics the brand now caters to. 

Designers understand how different elements of design communicate with the audience. So, when a client trusts a designer’s intuition and stays open to the designer’s ideas it can result in refreshing designs. 

Clear design feedback = Smooth design collaborations 

The collaboration works well if your feedback is about the design and not the designer. Another little tip is to ask questions to understand why the designer chose a particular color or positioning of an element. This works much better than pointing out that you do not like that aspect of the design. 

Be mindful of the effort that goes into creating these designs. So, in addition to providing clear and useful feedback, work with your designer to set realistic deadlines for the project. Limiting your designer’s creativity or stressing the designer with a time crunch can all restrict the designer’s creativity. You will want your designer to work at his or her creative best if you want the best design for your campaign. 

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