Design reviews can be a daunting process for even a seasoned designer. From that initial college crit to the most recent multi-department review session for approval on a new project, your career will be filled with reviews discussing your work. Remember, design is an iterative process. This post aims to set you up for success traversing the nuances of a design review. Here are my 5 top tips to surviving a design review / critique.
Remember Feedback Is A Gift
Critiques can be a difficult time for any designer, whether it’s your first or your one-hundredth. No one enjoys having their work dissected, ripped apart, and put back together. And having to defend your work while also taking into account that the reviewer is trying to improve your work is a difficult proposition, that’s tough. On one hand you believe your solution is the best available. And on the other, you all are on the same team working towards the same goal. I recommend to stop, pause, and reflect on what is best. In the end, your desire for the best solution should outweigh any issues where your ego is involved.
Remember That Reviewers are There to Help
Along with the previous point that feedback is a gift, you should also keep in mind that the reviewers feedback comes from a place of wanting you to succeed. They’re not there to boost their ego or agenda. I’ve found if you invite stakeholders with a diverse background and skill set you will set yourself up for success. This framework enables a conversation where multiple perspectives will open your eyes to the plethora of possibilities. Enjoy that diversity. Embrace it. Not all designers have that opportunity. Different angles mean different design solutions bettering your design. That’s something every designer should be striving towards.
Exhaust Multiple Options
Designing multiple options allows you to think through the problem with a wholistic approach. One by one you’ll be able to systematically go through the content and apply different styles for the same content. If you enjoy the process and let your creativity flourish, it will afford you the ability to find an outcome that is the correct answer for the problem in front of you. And if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Show Your Work and Process
Remember when you were back in elementary school and the teacher wanted to see your work and how you got to your answer. It’s the same thing here. While there is no right answer (and no teacher), showing your work opens the design review team to your thought process and methodology. It lets them see the different paths you took. It allows others to know that you’ve thought through multiple tracks.
Projecting an aura of confidence and knowledge affords you the ability to explain your solution with ease. Coming prepared to a design review is quite possibly the best thing you can do for yourself. I’ve founds it’s best to structure the discussion around points you believe to be the most important. Then move on to the others. This helps your reviewers understand your perspective and point of view while hitting all the main points. And listen to others opinions. Coming prepared isn’t just a one-way interaction. It’s a conversation. Be prepared to talk. And take notes.
The 5 points outlined in this post have helped me traverse the nuances of design reviews and critiques. I hope they do the same for you. And if you come with an open mind and bold intent to improve your designs, you won’t just be surviving a design review / critique – You’ll thrive.
If you liked this post, check out my post about “What No One Told You About Design“. In it, I aim to set realistic expectations for what awaits you in your career as a graphic designer.