David Sherwin just posted a brilliant, precise and ‘hit-the-nail’ blog on Fast Company design about how to get constructive about client feedback which is great from any creative person’s perspective. Moreover it doesn’t just apply to client feedback but also within teams. Reporting to your peers/managers/directors can be the same really.
(By the way I’m sure his publication ‘Success by design’ would be a must read if its as fresh as this snippet)
I really wish you all have great clients and you have a successful relation managing their feedback, but there are times you’d need some help with the negative and unorganized. Again, do read the original article.
Back? Lets get it an actionable spin.
We’ve been trying to make people’s lives drastically easier by using the same techniques David’s mentioned and I felt it would be great to pen down some more practical stuff you could use to convert his advice into action.
1.PUT THE FEEDBACK IN WRITING FOR ALL PARTIES TO APPROVE
David discusses documenting everything discussed and send it across to all relevant people. You could use a tool which automatically documents everything for you. In Framebench, you invite the people who’re relevant to that discussion in that workspace (think of it as a meeting room) and they get access to all this contextual feedback automatically.
They could also retrieve it within their emails if they don’t want to login to another system. No need to waste time writing it down, as you already did it as the meeting progressed..
2. CLARIFY AMBIGUOUS FEEDBACK BEFORE MAKING CHANGES.
How about the simple idea of leaving feedback directly on top of the media (image/video/PDF)? Users see a sudden drop in ambiguity as now the comments are given on the design rather than on the bottom as you would in an email or any other system.
David also advises – ‘Ask them (your clients) to agree to your interpretation before starting on the changes.‘ If the client themselves posted feedback on Framebench, you’re covered already. Else they can just hit reply on your annotation and all’s set.
Nobody likes surprises. Neither you nor your client, so set everything straight upfront. Have a contextual discussion on the feedback and get everybody on the same page regarding the implications.
Or just have a real time meeting on the design and present your case smoothly.
David also goes on to write about some common problems with client feedback. We’ve all laughed at the posters from clients from hell, but this was a refreshing perspective on how to convert that positively.
ACTIONABLE BUT NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
When you break down exactly what the other person is trying to convey, it makes it easier to get closer to what is expected. Getting fixated on the tone usually does not help. Since you can manage snippets of comments on the design with an annotation tool, map the feedback there and again have the client agree on the changes he’s suggesting.
When he’s telling you a color change, put that in. A larger logo? Mark it on the design quickly and send out the brief before getting started.
FB Tip: Don’t get emotional about it.
THE CLIENT CONTRADICTS THE DESIGN & BRANDING GUIDES
I loved how our designers handled this. They were quick to understand the mindset behind the suggestions. They actually listened to the underlying reasons and suggested changes which were more consistent with the guidelines. It takes slightly more thought work at your end, but saves you from coming up with a design which you begin to dislike by the end of it.
FB Tip: Put up the design guideline in the same workspace as a PDF and link your reasons on it for the client to understand it better.
“EVERYTHING YOU’VE DONE, YOU’VE DONE IT WRONG”
Push him onto your feedback tool. 2 annotations there and you’ll begin to understand the temperament. I understand that many a times clients wouldn’t want to pin point anything and get away with saying, “Its all bad“. Have a meaningful online discussion with them and go through the design with them.
FB Tip: If you can pay a visit, its best else use the in built real time sync mode and let them speak their heart out.
Really hope this saves you some time and a lot of frustration. We tried to keep it as actionable for effective design feedback as possible. You can also accomplish this through other annotation and meeting tools out there and do post your preferences and experiences. Would really like to talk in the comments section or on twitter: @framebench.