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5 Rules and Tools to Provide Constructive Feedback on Design

Since a client pays a designer, it is a frequent situation that clients engage in advising designers so extensively that designers feel like machines or robots who only have knowledge about how to use tools for designing. In other words clients create designs – designers only build them.

However, as much as naturally clients expect good results, unfortunately in many cases they do not get the essentials of the design and its creation, and when the time comes, are not successful at providing effective feedback. On the other hand, it is essential to walk through the design processes hand in hand with clients as there are things only clients can provide the designers. Therefore it is essential to guide the client and explain how the process of design creation actually works and what things should not be uttered or done.

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Providing Constructive Feedback on Design

Purpose of Design Should Go Over Beauty

It is very natural that what firstly draws one’s attention is visuals, in other words the looks of the design, its quality and compatibility. In no way I say that beauty is not important though design has other – main purposes –which coincide with clients’ purposes. These could be an aim for a user to register for a particular service, to buy a particular good, to press a particular button and so on and so forth. Therefore, while giving feedback for the designer, it is essential to keep in mind the main purpose of the design, whatever it would be. Then beauty goes.

Similarly, clients should not only follow their feelings and guesses. Designers are probably experienced specialists who if do not know for certain than can at least oversee or have a gist of what impact a particular decision or a solution on design might have for a business workflow. Then it is the client’s choice – experience and knowledge vs. vague presumptions.

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Feedback Should Lead to Building a Big Picture

Yes, big things in life are constituted of details which are really important, of course. However, in the case when clients provide feedback, details should wait for their turn. At the very first of designing, designers are keener to build a big picture from what clients say in order to make key decisions while details, well, they will be polished, only later. It is like a journey, a traveller has to choose a right way guided by someone or something first and then when reaches the destination decides – what to see and where to eat.

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On the other hand, broad and abstract remarks are worthless in terms of usefulness. Therefore such observations as do whatever looks better for you lead nowhere. Concreteness, clarity and rationale are things one should apply while giving feedback to another person.

Feedback Should Only Be Given In Good Conditions

Designers are a kind of artist therefore should be approached cautiously. Ok, maybe cautiously is not the most apt word, though clients should keep in mind that designing is basically projecting things in your mind, matching and at the same time making them convertible into some results. Therefore these processes might not always fit into clients’ schedules. Solution – setting flexible deadlines and staying understanding from both sides. Then clients’ feedback will be constructive, as – on the designs, not on meeting the deadlines.

In addition, as unbelievable as it sounds, designers are also human beings. This fact let us jump to conclusions that clients can and should always ask and discuss what is unclear. I have no doubt all rationale behind any decision will be explained. And answers to questions will allow to purify feedback later.

Working Processes Should Be Set Up In Advance

This one will be short and sweet. In order for things to run smoothly, it would be useful to agree on particular processes of how feedback will be given in advance. Basically you should agree at least on two things, what means on how you will exchange feedback, (via meetings, emails, Skype, feedback tools etc.) and what aspects of the design will be usually considered. When I say in advance, it really means – in advance. This will help to prepare constructive feedback that would be as much to the point as possible not shooting first random impressions that come to mind.

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Proper Tools For Providing Feedback Should Be Used

Let’s face it, communication between clients and designers is time consuming and tiring for both sides. Long emails, Skype calls or never ending meetings, if these are possible, sometimes just do not work. Therefore, both designers and frequently non-tech clients should use the right tools for providing feedback on design. Check the best out of the best:


A visual feedback tool for web development and design. It is an easy to work with real time tool that makes screenshots and collects technical data automatically. It allows marking and commenting on images of any format directly on the image the same as tracking and commenting on issues on websites directly either exchanging comments with colleagues and clients. Just press send and here you have feedback provided easily! Also, TrackDuck integrates with a variety of PM, CMS and communication platforms.


InVision Live Capture

A prototyping, collaboration and workflow platform. Designers and their clients are not even able to mark and comment on images and websites directly but also sort out their inspirational content in a nice manner. To add, this tool is of a great design itself and is free for already existing customers – therefore ask your designer if s/he is using the InVision app and join!

InVision Live Capture


A very new tool to collect design views. As DesignDrop puts it, it is a way to collect visual annotations on the image to specify exact elements on the design. It works in real time and each design gets a URL in order to be shared easily.



Has a double power: one can provide visual feedback on both designs and videos since clients and designers might want to work on both of them simultaneously. No doubt one can draw on the content directly using a variety of means and can receive live feedback. Also, Notism just goes beyond and allows users to communicate in video timelines.



Besides being able to comment and draw on the files directly and collaborate real-time, Conceptboard, an online whiteboard, users are able to use the tool to the fullest on any device since no installation is needed. Also, a major competitive advantage of Conceptboard is that working boards can be viewed by guests who do not yet have accounts on Conceptboard.


In a Nutshell

In order for the design not only to be beautiful but also serve necessary functions and for the whole working process to be smooth, clients need to be guided before starting the collective work with designers. Therefore the above mentioned rules or advice might be what one lacks in the collaborative and creative processes for providing constructive feedback which leads to one’s successful future design.

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