There’s the adage that says, Many hands make light work. This truth can also run amuck if the many hands involved are inept and unwilling to work together as a team. The same goes for gathering feedback and criticism on a design project. You need to show others and test on potential users. However, the eyes looking need to be engaged in the process or know the goals so that you avoid drive-by feedback that is without the understanding of what they are observing. Context is key.
Show, Trust, Listen
Show & Tell: Recently while working on a new microsite for LexBlog, I was reminded again of these truths and not getting frustrated at myself when I miss what would seem an obvious error or needed element. Instead of going down a path of self-doubt I was glad teammates were willing to question my design decisions and note where they felt things were a little clunky and in need of some rethinking. I was delighted they cared enough to say something.
Form a Brain-trust: The idea of a brain-trust critiquing a project together is compelling. Each set of eyes trained to look with their perspective, knowledge, and skill. Brain-trusts are not easy to find. They must care deeply and have a high level of proficiency in their specific craft. Brain-trusts are developed over time through trial and frustration. Often a second phone call or chat will happen to bring clarity and resolve misunderstandings. In the brain-trust, there needs to be a level of comfort in sharing your opinion without offense if your advice is not taken into consideration.
Listen to Clients: I have also found that clients are good problem finders. However, their suggested solutions are not that great. The key is they’ve discovered the problem. I can’t tell you the number of times a client has found an issue with the design and proceeded to tell me how to fix it. Once I get past the irritation, I see by them identifying the problem it forces me to think in a new direction, and the solution is always better.