Tips for delivering and receiving critical feedback

Suzanne Buzek
By Suzanne Buzek
April 13th, 2016

This week Australia revealed their new $5 note. For a country known to be an agreeable bunch of folks, the reaction has been divisive and ruthless.

You can see for yourself the, well, colorful reactions to the new design. Sharing a design, and consequently opening the floodgates for public reaction, can be a sensitive process. With that in mind, here are tips to keep in mind when working through the design process:

Think about all user groups when reacting

Just because you may not see yourself using a product a certain way, doesn’t mean that people of different cultures, ways of thinking or abilities wouldn’t use it that way.

Case in point, one Twitter user reacted with the following to the new bank note: “I think they’ll be great for the Visually Impaired community in particular – I think people forget that!” A valid point, as the note has new features that the Reserve Bank of Australia made a point to include.

Considering the functional benefits of a product and the many ways different groups of people may experience the product can help lead to a more inclusive attitude and product.

Be tactful

Especially in business relationships, when critiquing someone’s work — no matter how much you may not like it — showing a little appreciation for the time and effort involved goes a long way.

Our graphic and digital design director, Jason Cowdrey, weighs in:

As a creative director, I have to evaluate work with a critical eye, and I need to be able to be honest about what needs to be done to improve it. Let’s face it, sometimes people miss the mark and need to be course-corrected. It still happens to me. With this case, somewhere along the line, someone should have taken the stand against that $5 note. You’re always going to get some negative feedback, but better that it’s at an internal review than a national reveal.

This practice is one that can only be perfected with experience and working with different designers, teams and their approaches. Not only showing appreciation, but making an effort to understand why certain design elements are present or their functional benefit can help neutralize subjectivity or preferences and advance the project forward. The same goes for the recipient of feedback — understanding why a concept may have strayed from the focus and keeping up a spirit of collaboration can ensure a successful result.

Keep in mind the end goal

Before sharing feedback, ask yourself if your suggested edits are in a spirit of collaboration and fulfilling the project goal, but don’t be afraid to just speak up if it’s warranted. Working with your team to get over a misstep is better than producing sub-par work. As Jason smartly put it, “Stopping bad design internally will save more hurt feelings in the long run than watching your work get pulverized by Advertising Age or on social media.”



By | 2017-03-12T18:49:52+00:00 April 13th, 2016|Marketing Communications, Media Relations, Social Media, Uncategorized, Vr3|Comments Off on Tips for delivering and receiving critical feedback

About the Author:

Suzanne Buzek
Suzanne doesn’t know what it’s like to be bored, and does everything possible to keep it that way. She thrives on being able to huddle with a team and move quickly in the face of business realities while taking the time to brainstorm the Next Big Idea with a client. Prior to joining Vehr, Suzanne helped manage communications to support 1,000 national customers at Cintas. She developed toolkits to educate 30,000 employees; created sales presentations, branding campaigns, collateral materials and more; and managed the company’s agency partner relationships. Suzanne moonlights as VP of Marketing Communications for American Marketing Association Cincinnati. She lives in Northern Kentucky with no plans to give up her 513 area code (she is from Westwood, after all). You can find her enjoying the local music scene and trying to keep up with two book clubs—luckily one of them is more focused on sampling rosé than on actually finishing what they read.