How to give feedback to a designer or copywriter in six easy steps

Brand Skills, Wordpress Skills

Giving feedback to your web designer and to your copywriter is a super important step in your project.

Why? Because your website – its design, branding, words and user experience – is a tool for your business. We are experts in our field (that’s why you hired us!) and we want to ensure you smash your goals.

We collaborate with our clients so they can reach their project goals. This is why we work so hard on the brief in our early days together; to get to know you, your business, your ideal client and your future vision.

When Is Design Feedback Needed On A Project?

When we are about halfway through the project, we ask for design review (or wireframe review, or copywriting review, depending on where exactly we are at). Other studios have different workflows, but all ask for client feedback on a proposed design before a project is finalized.

Your constructive feedback helps us make any tweaks, shifts or changes to stay on the path we set out together in the early phases. We are as invested in your project as much as you are because, as creatives, it’s part of our identity.

A Healthy Feedback Loop Means A Positive Designer/Client Relationship

These are the steps we find help our clients meet their goals with us. If you’re design professional COPY, PASTE, LOVE. Take ’em and tweak ’em. If you’re a client, then put those listening ears on an learn right in. We’re telling you how to ensure a successful and happy project.

You may not understand every decision we’ve made but there is a reason behind every sentence, every button, every well placed menu. We’ve studied marketing strategies, sales, story crafting, psychology, user experience, code, colour, branding and more. We love our business as much as you love yours and we’re always hungry for learning the latest information.

So what does this mean for you, the client? Some of what we do is not intuitive and you won’t necessarily understand why we’ve placed items in a certain place, or worded things a particular way but it’s a roadmap to help you convert.

Keep this in mind when you give your feedback and feel free to ask us anything. We love talking about our work!

Our job is to take the problems you pose in the brief, apply our skills and solve them. You job as the client is to help us ensure that these solutions meet your goals by providing effective feedback and making sure we’re on the same page.

A Lined Design Web And Brand Design 14

1. Remember The Ideal Client

This ain’t about you, sunshine. This whole process is about meeting business goals NOT about making you the centre of attention. It’s about your business connecting with the right clients for you to do business. This is not your personal art collection or brag file, you need to take a step outside yourself, pop your personal preferences in a little baggie, zip it up and come get them when you’re done.
Step into the mind of your ideal client, live and breathe who they are the whole time you’re reviewing your material. Because this is ALL about them.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What would connect with your target audience?
  • What will light them up? What will they not want to see?
  • What can help you communicate super duper clear who you are for, whose problems you solve, and why you are unique?

2. Remember The Design Brief

When you started work with your creative professional, they will have asked you a tonne of questions. probably an annoying amount, which really made you think about what you do as a business and where you’re going.

It’s not easy stuff- but it’s absolutely essential.

These thoughtful answers have real power and potential to help your business connect. We distill all these answers and conversations into your creative brief, our game plan.

The creative takes all the feelings and plans and ideas in that brief, pulls out words and images to help expand and explain, and builds a design to match. It’s the combination of where you want to be and what your ideal client want’s to see. It’s a process and a skill and an art. Our design choices are all about solving a business problem. #goals

Remember what we are doing and who we are doing it for. Spoiler alert it’s not you. Sorry, not sorry, not even your ABOUT page is about you, it’s got to be about your audience. The people who see and interact with your website.

3. Remember Why You Hired Your Creative In The First Place

Chances are you hired your creative because you loved their work.

Designers keep on designing because we LOVE it: we have studied human psychology, we understand how people see, read, and why they buy things. We understand why the eye travels across a design in the way that it does, how proportions and symmetry tell a story and why colours matter.

Words are the yin to a design’s yang. They craft a story, evoke powerful emotions and connect to the reader. In business, words communicate your brand. How they are structured, their tone, subtle connotations, it’s a multi-layered approach designed to take your viewer on a journey- where the pot of gold at the end is your product.

Remember how you felt when you looked through the A Lined Design’s website? Do you remember what made you want to choose us out of the gazillions of other firms out there? Something that tipped the scales and made you say YES! This is the crew for me.

Hint: We did that on purpose. To attract you. It involved a thousand decisions and careful planning (because we love working with like-minded clients).

Now, let us do that for the people in your audience.

A creative professional is not an order-taker; they are a problem solver.

Let them work their magic for you.

Which leads into the next point.

4. Do Not DIY

You might have questions about word order, placement and selection or layout but feel free to ask or comment before grabbing your red pen or the delete button. We can explain the strategy and thought that went into our creative decisions- so make sure you have all the info you need before we start cutting and shifting. And please don’t stress if these things aren’t immediately obvious! This is our world and we want to invite you inside.

We are happy to review and make small changes for good reason but keep in mind that we’ve selected carefully, based on your brief. If a phrase feels inauthentic or if you had a different vision for a module- these things can be modified. But nitpicking our work is going to reduce the quality of your end result. (It might sound like we’re being harsh here but it happens and we hate seeing incredible words and design, dulled).

Remember, a site is not meant to sounds like YOU it’s meant to sound like your audience, visually appeal to them, and create a memorable user experience.

When you decide to go to a particular artist for a commission, you need to trust them (and your own instincts for choosing them). You don’t select which brushes they are allowed to paint with and you shouldn’t ask them to change half of the paint on the canvas.

In the case of design work, the elements will be weighted and aligned just so, colours carefully chosen. If the designer is gracious enough to accept these tweaks and fixes, the client is often left wondering why their design didn’t turn out quite right or why it doesn’t look quite like they expected.

Same with words. Every word in your copy is carefully crafted with intent. Often websites use a small amount of copy to communicate which is actually more difficult than writing a novel. Every word has meaning and every word matters. Sometimes you might find a typo in the process, in which case we apologise in advance for our human-ness (luckily it’s an easy fix.) But trust that our word-weavers have your best interests in their looms.

5. Lose The Committee

No. Don’t. Ever. Ever Never.
 
Never ask anyone what they think of a design. It’s a case of opinions and unfortunately everyone has one. The real question is, should you care about their opinion? Consider the source. Is this person a designer? And if they are, are they a good one (but not so good you hired us instead of them)?
 
Too many cooks in the kitchen is never a good idea.

Managing stakeholders is a whole ‘nother ballgame. There will be opinions which matter and team members who need to be consulted, but all need to be on board for the goals of the project. A project manager for that business client needs to have the authority to make the hard decisions so that the designer or writer has one point of contract and source of truth. 

Let’s look at points 1 and 2 again. If this person/facebook group is not your ideal client, we don’t really care what their opinion is. In fact if they are not your ideal client and they don’t like it, perfect! We don’t want to connect with them. It’s not where your best business lies.
 
If you are stuck and want to ask people that can be okay IF you ask questions like this:
 
  • do you think these colour choices speak to my ideal client to build trust?
  • do you think this style says carefree or uptight?
  • if you were [ideal client] would you expect to see this colour or a different one?
Then give that feedback to the designer with your interpretation and ask the designer to solve the problem.
 
  • The feedback I have had is that shade of green is a bit muddy, and we want a fresher more youthful look. Can you choose a different shade?
  • We are targeting a younger audience who like [some brand], can we use a lot of white space and drop shadows like that?
  • I don’t understand why this question to my audience is framed in a negative way?

These are productive questions that have real answers and can lead to the best outcome.

6. Ask Clarifying Questions

We get that this design thing is not an everyday life situation for our clients. We do! And we expect a tonne of questions even though we do our best to educate and inform the whole way through our journey together.
 
But no creative professional is a mind reader. Or an interrogator. And whilst I do have crystal balls on my desk (three in fact) their long range reception is a bit spotty.
 
We need to know what’s going on in that head of yours in order to serve you better. But make sure your questions serve the creative brief, and not your own preferences. Design critique like, “I don’t like red, lose the red” is not what we are looking for here. 
 
Ask your creative professional thoughtful questions:
  • what are you trying to achieve with this … element/colour/font?
  • What is the purpose of … ?
  • Are there any other colour choices which might help build a feeling of… ?
  • Can you explain… ?
  • Can you think of a better or different way… ?
  • Is there a design solution you can suggest to acheive…?
  • And my absolute favourite … In your professional opinion?

So there you have it. Six easy steps to getting through the feedback stage to make sure you get the results you hired us for.

More heads are better than one and we do view our work as a collaboration with our lovely clients.  It takes a team to make sure the projects which run smoothly, on time and on budget. Useful feedback during the design process really does ensure that every design decision hits its target. In the end, it’s all about informed communication: if you don’t like a colour, tell us why? If you aren’t sure about a headline, give us some more direction. If there is something unclear about the user experience- put your hand up. If we work together in this way you’ll get the absolute best result for your business. Let’s do this!

Design pros in the room anything else you’d add? We’d love to hear!

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How to give your web designer and copywriter feedback in six easy steps

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