As a graphic designer, you must become comfortable with your work being critiqued along with learning how to critique other designer’s work.

Why do we critique?

The point of critiquing is to get different perspectives on our work and working together to find solutions to make it even better.

In college, we all went through class critiques. This is an exercise where each designer would present their work to the class, explain the ultimate goal and our thought process behind our outcome, and open ourselves up to the wolves.

Why do we fear critique?

It’s awkward! In school we were all still learning how to give and take constructive criticism. Class critiques were always filled with awkward silences, bullsh*t feedback to fill those silences, and of course everyone getting defensive.

Luckily, as time went on, we all learned that art is subjective and critique is an essential part in our education and development as designer and only makes our work stronger.

Here are few tips to help you give effective feedback:

  • Listen first, Critique second. You can’t give helpful feedback without understanding the ultimate goal of the project and the designer’s thought process.
  • Stay Positive. Instead of only listing the things that need help, also give compliments on the things that you like.
  • Be specific. “I don’t like it” or “Make it pop” is not enough info for the designer to know what exactly they should change within the design.
  • Try to keep your personal opinions out of it. Even if you do not like a specific design style, give the designer your perspective without completely bashing their design.
  • Offer actual suggestions the designer can use. If you know of a design element/edit that might help the design, like changing a color or font, then tell them! It could help the designer’s process, even if they don’t use your exact suggestion.

Here are a few tips to receiving constructive feedback:

  • Don’t take it personally. In the beginning, it’s hard to receive feedback without becoming defensive. Try to understand other perspectives and use it to make your work even better.
  • If you don’t understand the feedback given, let them know and ask them to explain it further.
  • Be willing and prepared to answer questions. Questions are great because they make you think about your work in a different way.
  • If you are unsure in your work or are just stuck, critiques are a great way to help. Ask your audience any questions you have about your own design in order to help you figure out your solution.
  • Even if you are super confident in your work, be open to feedback. Sometimes it’s easy to get overly excited and possessive over a design. Critiques are still key to pushing your designs to the next level or even helpful in pointing out small mistakes.

When designers are dealing with clients who are not sure how to give effective feedback, it can become difficult to figure out what exactly they are looking for. Be willing to work with them to figure out the ultimate goal without becoming frustrated. Let them know that in order to get this project to where it needs to be, they need to be open with their opinions and willing to discuss their thoughts.