Design Team Critique

A review of a proposed design work. The goals are to provide awareness, drive consistency, quality control, and create a collaborative environment for the design team through gathering feedback to help the lead design to improve their work. Critiques are about input not decisions - keep decisions out.

Attendees Frequency Suggested Time
Entire Design Team Weekly 1h - 2hrs

Preparation

  1. Schedule a recurring weekly design critique meeting
  2. Facilitator role to schedule agenda
  3. Facilitator requests presenters
  4. Schedule 10-15 minute critiques (longer at first to get comfortable)
  5. Update meeting with appropriate time and agenda

Steps

  1. The designer will present the problem and the user’s story, including the project scope.
    1. Problem format:
      1. I am showing [early/mid/late] work
      2. Around [the problem state - who, what (goal), when, why]
      3. We’ll have success if we see [what do we want the user to do or understand]
      4. and am looking for feedback on [\visuals & content / specific interation, architecture & flow / conceptual direction].
  2. Make sure everyone understands the problem. Do not proceed to the designs until everyone agrees on the problem.
    1. “Does this sound like a valid problem, is the problem statement confusing, is there anything that may have been overlooked? [If early] Do we agree that this is the problem that we should be solving? Is this one of the most important problems we should be solving right now?”
    2. Audience ask any clarification questions, if necessary.
  3. Feedback Request: I’m looking for feedback on [visuals & content, specific interactions, architecture & flow, or conceptual direction].
  4. Designer should proceed to present their work, preferably multiple approaches (to self critique).
  5. Audience asks questions and likes only, thinking from the user’s point of view.
    1. “What did I enjoy about this design and why? What concerns me about this design and why? What does this design remind me of and why?”
  6. Assess against appropriate design principles.
    1. “Does the design align with our design principles?”
  7. Facilitator should take notes throughout to share at the end.
  8. Facilitator at the end should ask, “What are the next key steps you’ll take to move the work forward?”

Tips

  1. Laptops stay closed (except for presenter and facilitator). Audience should focus on listening and asking questions.
  2. Designers should always try to bring multiple approaches, especially during early work, so you can critique yourself by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each approach
  3. Not everyone needs to say something. We need to figure out how to agree with someone without reiterating.
  4. Do not provide suggestions on how to fix issues. Put the power into the designers hands. If the designer feels like they have no idea where to begin ask “What do you suggest?”. If the designer leaves the critique and becomes stuck, the should pull together the team to get collaboratively try to solve the problem. Alternatively, start by proposing process suggestions rather than solution suggestions.

Feedback Expression Tips

The Difference between Critique and Criticism
Taken from Writing Alone, Writing Together by Judy Reeves

  • Criticism finds fault / Critique looks at structure
  • Criticism looks for what’s lacking / Critique finds what’s working
  • Criticism condemns what it doesn’t understand / Critique asks for clarification
  • Criticism is spoken with a cruel wit and sarcastic tongue / Critique’s voice is kind, honest, and objective
  • Criticism is negative / Critique is positive (even about what isn’t working)
  • Criticism is vague and general / Critique is concrete and specific
  • Criticism has no sense of humor / Critique insists on laughter, too
  • Criticism looks for flaws in the writer as well as the writing / Critique addresses only what is on the page

“Posing thoughts as questions allows the designer to express their reasoning instead of being defensive. If they hadn’t considered a particular angle, they can make a note and address it in the next iteration” -Greg Lindley

Question Tips

Standard Questions to Ask:

Quality Questions

  1. Would we stand up in a room of our peers and claim this work as our own? Would we be proud to say that we worked on this? If the answer is no, we go back and figure out why not.
  2. Would we write an article about something noteworthy here?

Outcome Questions

  1. What would success look like for the design?
  2. What do you expect to change for the user?
  3. What behavior to you want to drive?
  4. How much will this change the lives of the user?

Visual Design Questions

  1. Does it adhere to the 5 styles rule? Count all colors and type styles on the screen, if more than 5 try to reduce.
  2. Is it following our grid system?

Templates

  1. Design Critique Log Template
  2. Design Critique Template

References

  1. https://articles.uie.com/critique/
  2. https://medium.com/facebook-design/critique-is-an-important-part-of-any-design-process-whether-you-work-as-part-of-a-team-or-solo-ef3dcb299ce3
  3. https://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2011/10/27/moving-from-critical-review-to-critique/
  4. https://blog.intercom.com/running-productive-design-critiques/
  5. http://www.tablexi.com/design/guide-to-gv-design-critique-google-ventures/
  6. https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2016/08/running-a-ui-design-critique/
  7. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/design-critiques/
  8. https://uxdesign.cc/debugging-your-design-critique-2f002acb50cf
  9. https://medium.com/facebook-design/critique-is-an-important-part-of-any-design-process-whether-you-work-as-part-of-a-team-or-solo-ef3dcb299ce3