We’ve all heard this feedback: “It’s fine.” or “I don’t like your use of that [color/shape/photo/etc].” Both of these types of responses are what I call Creative Death Blows. They provide no constructive feedback. Those responses are lazy and opinionated. No one learns; nothing is gained; only a line has been drawn. Learning how to give and get good critiques takes practice and skill that can easily be learned. All too often, personalities and egos get in the way of what’s really important.
Here are a few tips to move things along:
When giving critique: it’s imperative that you understand that this design is to serve the target audience first, not your portfolio. Listen to your designer/shareholder explain their work. Ask yourself, “Does this communicate effectively and efficiently for the intended audience?” Why or why not? Make suggestions that offer design opportunities.
When getting a critique: the #1 important rule – check that ego at the door. Open your ears and listen to the design brief, the marketers, the shareholders, etc. whatever you can to best understand the target audience. It won’t matter how spectacular your design is; if they don’t understand it, it failed. If you’re not getting the guidance you need on a particular area, ask questions. How to avoid getting an “It’s fine.” answer? Ask questions that open a dialog. One of the best ways is to start with “Can you help me?”. A good creative/art director wants a strong team that understands the vision (which makes their job easier), so they are usually more than willing to share their insights.
But what if I don’t agree?
Reevaluate the design brief. Are either of you keeping the target audience in mind? If not, then ask questions that provide subjective details to support the design and/or critique.