The secret to a successful creative process is collaboration. Believe it or not the ‘C’ bomb will either make or break your project. Working together, beautiful things will come to fruition, creative sparks will fly and everyone will be happy at the end of the day.

This, however, is easier said than done. Feedback can get lost in translation, and lead to frustration at both ends.

Feedback early and often is key. It doesn’t matter if your designer is a creative genius, a design God/ Goddess with 30 plus years’ experience or not, collaboration is fundamental. Effective feedback can turn a good design into a great design.

Giving the best quality feedback allows your designers to understand your needs and requirements, enabling them to produce something even better than what you had in mind.
‘But how do you give good design feedback?’ That is the question… so whether you’re a client giving feedback to your agency or designer, or like me you’re managing the project, and therefore the design team and the client’s expectations – here at Pistachio we’re here to help. So here are some top tips below to ensure a super happy design team and some awesome design work!

1 – Ask Questions

There are no stupid questions when it comes to design feedback (within reason). We’re not all designers so your design team won’t expect you to know everything – so ask every question you need to, especially when it comes to why they have chosen to do particular design element. Believe it or not, there is (usually) a reason for everything they have done. Ask them about their design process and how they arrived at the solution. Give them an opportunity to explain their rationale to you so that you can in turn pass this on to the client/internal team, this should then ensure that everyone is on the same page and should cut down on the number of rounds of amends that the client requires in the long-run.

2 – No lingo – No issue

Just because you don’t know all of the technical jargon that comes with design, it doesn’t mean that you can’t express your opinion. Try giving your designers a visual reference to work from, be it web links, a Pinterest board, or any example they can take inspiration from… anything is better than nothing. This gets your point across immediately without any guess work involved. Guess work often results in wasted time in getting to the heart of what the client wants, so if you understand it, make sure you do your best to ensure that your designer does as well. Don’t feel silly for sending over random screen shots, the design team will thank you for it, this again saves frustration at both ends, the designers time and the clients’ money.

3 – Don’t tell the designer what to do.

Now giving inspiration for design is one thing and I know we all like to think that we are designers in our own special way – but let’s face it, we’re not.

So present your designer with the problem and trust in their expertise that they will be able to best solve the issue without your direct interference – in most cases they manage to come up with something spectacular that you’ve never even thought of!

4 – Be specific

This sounds like an obvious one, but this is potentially THE most important tip in this article!
Being specific means your design team don’t have to guess what you mean and design blind.

All too often our designers get the following vague feedback:

‘Give it more umph’
‘Make it pop’
‘Just be more creative’
‘It just looks weird’
‘It just doesn’t work’

Feedback like this makes it very difficult to interpret and it is likely that your version of ‘more umph’ or ‘making something pop’ varies to that of your designer. Without clear direction, your designer is In the dark and your project will take a different form to what you imagined.

So be specific. Is it the font that needs to change? Colours? Imagery? Layout?

Instead of ‘make it pop’ you could say: ‘I was thinking we could change the colour of the text or make the titles bigger to make it stand out from the rest of the piece.’

Tie this in with point number 2 on the list and follow your advice with examples of something that you think ‘pops’ or looks like it has ‘more umph’ to support what you are trying to say.

Specific language is harder to misinterpret.

5 – Praise sandwich – Adult style

We all know we make mistakes and no one like to hone in on the negatives.

There’s no need to patronise your designers, they know negative feedback is going to come at some point, otherwise the job would have been signed off straight away. So make sure when you deliver negative feedback, that there are posivies thrown in there as well. Express to your designers what you do like about the work, this way they know to continue in this certain style. The more they know of what you do and don’t like, the easier it is for them to tailor the work to your taste and continue in the right direction. The negative feedback is also easier to address following this.

6 – Be Fair

Variety is the spice of life as they say so we know not everyone is going to like our individual fashion sense, our chosen hair colour or living room décor and that’s fine. It’s the same with design.

Designers are tough cookies to break, they are used to receiving criticism each and every day, they won’t go off crying into a corner (not too often anyway… ahem Rich). So they can handle criticism, but remember, designers are humans too so play nice. Make sure that the feedback doesn’t sound personal – it’s about the work, not about the designer.

Remember that you are supposed to be working as one cohesive team, all working towards the same goal. You don’t want to destroy the working relationship that you have with the design team by insulting them. Collaboration, collaboration collaboration…

I hope that these super 6 top tips help you out in your next project. I’m going to leave you on a few notes that our wonderful design team here in Marlow left me with…

In response to the question; ‘How do you like feedback given to you:’

Designer Chris: “Tell me they love everything I do because I’m a creative genius”
Designer Emmy: “I like them to say, ‘wow, that’s the best thing I’ve ever seen’ ”
Designer Rich: “I just do what I’m told ;)”
Creative Director Marie: “Be nice and be concise! That’s always my motto!”

If you want to see what the Pistachio team have been up to recently, check out our work here.

Alternatively if you want to get involved in a project with us, please get in touch at our Marlow or Nottingham offices here.