Designers receive critiques on an everyday basis; from the clients they are working for, friends that want to help, and colleagues that want to share their opinion. As professionals, we need to be able to handle ourselves gracefully in these situations.
But controlling your emotions and accepting critiques in a professional manner isn’t always the easiest thing to do. However, feedback–negative or positive–is important in our line of work, and necessary in order to produce design work that meets the requirements of our clients and bosses.
Receiving critiques is also a great way to grow as a designer. By allowing yourself to learn from others–even if they aren’t designers–you may uncover certain aspects about your work that you may not have thought existed.
Here are some suggestions for handling design critiques well.
First and foremost, you must listen to the feedback that is being relayed to you, whether you consider it valuable (constructive) or not. Many times, we form snap judgments about the feedback being given to us even before we internalize them simply based on the person giving the critique, what the person’s design experience is, and so forth. Give your critic the benefit of the doubt and hear what she has to say with an open mind. Only then can you respond appropriately.
2. Keep Your Emotions in Check
Designers tend to be a passionate bunch. We work hard to create strong designs, and deliver what we feel to be our best work, all of the time. It’s tough to hear that someone doesn’t love what we’ve done, but we must keep in mind that everyone sees the world differently and appreciates Design in a different way.
When receiving feedback from a client, you have to leave your emotions and your attitude aside. I’ve seen many designers get too emotionally involved in a project (I’m sure we’re all guilty of this at some point!) and they can’t bear to hear that their client/colleague/friend has issues with the design they’ve produced.
Step back and listen to what they have to say. Step away from the situation temporarily if you have to, in order to avoid overreacting and exploding.
3. Appreciate New Opinions
Receiving feedback from others is a great opportunity to see how others view your work. I know what I like and what I think works best, but my client knows their audience better than I do, and may be able to offer some deeper insight into how they will respond to the design I’ve produced. They aren’t designers, but I can still appreciate the different opinions they hold. If the suggestions work well, I could incorporate their ideas into the design.
4. Criticism Management Can Lead to Better Work Relationships
Whether you’re a freelancer, a business owner, or an in-house designer for a company, you can earn respect from others by accepting their feedback in a tasteful manner.
Everyone appreciates it when his or her opinions are being heard and considered. The better you can handle critiques, the more you’ll be respected by the people you work with. When people see that you can handle feedback gracefully, they’ll be more inclined to work with you.
5. Remember Who’s Footing the Bill
In the end, you are creating something for someone else, and they must be satisfied with the outcome.
Even if they request changes that aren’t necessarily in their best interest, the best you can do is offer your expert recommendation. If they still don’t agree, accept the critique, make the changes, and move on.
6. Learn from Others
The most valuable part of receiving critiques gracefully is the opportunity we get to learn from them. We may have thought we created the best design we possibly could, but a client may think of something to add that brings the design to a completely new level, or come up with an idea we’ve never even considered. Everyone has different ideas and everyone can offer new ways to push our designs further.