HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF
WNW Members #1395 Breanna Radermacher and #5602 Jen Serafini are designers on a mission to pay it forward. They've joined forces as co-founders of Be Free, Lance, an online course for designers who want to build a successful business from the ground up. The next session begins on June 1st and registration is now open. You can learn more about what the course entails right here. Last week on Free Range, Jen covered the importance of creating successful project proposals. This week, Breanna offers insight into getting the most out of client feedback.
Last week, we chatted about the importance of creating successful project proposals to make sure that expectations are set and understood up front. But when you’re in the thick of the design process, gathering helpful feedback from clients is another pivotal moment that can make or break a project. Think about it this way — you’ve already strategized, conceptualized, designed, refined, and created a killer presentation of what you believe to be the best solution. And although you may be extremely proud of the work shown, everything can fall apart in an instant if you don’t handle the revision process in a professional and educational manner.
So how do you facilitate appropriate feedback? Be a leader. I always like to start off with a strong presentation. Instead of just showing my clients something pretty, I give them some context as well. That way, they are learning about why I made certain design decisions while also being reminded about the original objective. For example, I may present a logo concept and also state the following: “Because we wanted to convey your outgoing personality, I used a bold and modern typeface. It’s solid, strong, and can stand the test of time, just like you. The composition, however, remains simple so that your branding does not detract from your beautiful artwork.” By shedding a little light into the thought behind a design, the client will better understand what they are looking at and be able to provide better feedback.
But educating your client doesn’t stop there. At the end of my initial presentation, I always provide a guide for feedback. I’ve found that more often than not, clients don’t have experience in giving critique, so it’s best to help them out from the get go. If you just say “What do you think?” there’s no telling what you’ll get in response. But if you outline some questions for the client to run through and consider, they instantly have a cheat sheet on what to look for. For example purposes, here are some questions that I ask most clients after they’ve seen their initial designs:
Is your gut consistently drawn towards one direction? Ask yourself this same question over the next few days.
Do you feel the typography represents your brand voice, in wanting to achieve something that is (put descriptive words about their project here)?
Do you feel that the overall tone is inline with your target market and what they’re attracted to? Remember, we wanted to go for something that was (put descriptive words about their target market here).
Do you have any other comments or things you’d like to see changed?
As you can see, most of these questions are structured in a way that helps remind the client about their original objective. It’s easy for clients to begin sharing their stream of consciousness without giving much thought to the strategy behind a design, so it’s important to guide them into it. And these questions do just that! But if you’d like to take things a step further, you can also give them examples of good and bad feedback, just so they have a starting point. For example, plain statements like “I don’t like that blue” aren’t helpful, but explanatory statements like “I don’t like that blue because it feels too childish” are.
If you find yourself receiving bad feedback, or even feeling like a design puppet (which is the worst), take a look at your revision process and evaluate your communication with clients. At the end of the day, feedback is a collaborative process, and if you are leading confidently while listening closely, things tend to go a lot smoother.