How to give good feedback.

written by Matt Stern

Your input is important and necessary to guide my work. I may not get everything right on the first try. That’s not just okay, it’s part of the process. Our work together can (and will) be iterative.

Here’s how you can provide me with effective feedback so I can earn the money you’re paying me. The magic happens when your hard-earned skills and expertise come together with mine.

3 Levels of *Approval*

As we move through the process of building or updating your website, there will be opportunities for you to review my work. There are three levels of approval:

1) “Approved”

This means, you like what you see and you’re ready to move on to the next phase. No changes necessary. Also known as “music to a designer’s ears.”

2) “Approved with Changes”

This means, once xyz problem is solved, you’re ready to move on to the next phase. See below for specific tips on giving good feedback.

3) “Make Changes and Resubmit”

This means that there are more than just a few things to fix before moving on. See below for tips on giving good feedback.

Descriptive (Good) Feedback

Example: “That shade of blue doesn’t feel vibrant enough for the visual language of my brand.”

  • Be honest. If you don’t like something, please let me know. You won’t hurt my feelings. Handling feedback is part of my job.
  • Be specific. Point out what exactly is not working for you and why. Be as detailed as possible.
  • Ask why. If you aren’t sure what I was thinking with a choice, please ask about it. I’m happy to explain. Everything I’ve done for the project has a purpose.
  • Refer to your goals. Always orient your comments to your end objective.
  • Relate to your audience. Your audience should be top of mind for every critique, so please include how your comment will help better serve them.
  • Be timely. I need feedback as soon as possible so we can fix things sooner rather than later. 

Other examples of good feedback:

“The word poor doesn’t feel like the right tone for my brand.”

“I’m afraid visitors won’t know what site they’re on.”

Prescriptive (Not So Good) Feedback

Example: “Change this word.” “Make this bigger.”

  • Team commentary. I work best when you alone serve as the expert on your company and its audience. Art by committee is rarely successful, so let’s keep the process exclusive to you and me.
  • It’s not personal. If I missed the mark or disagree with you, it’s because I’m thinking about your goals and audience. It’s not personal, it’s business.
  • Do my work for me. Please give me written or verbal instructions about what isn’t working; don’t redo my work to illustrate your point. 
  • Prescribe fixes. You hired me to provide expertise and solutions, so let me use my skills to help you. Explain the problem and I’ll pitch potential fixes based on what I know.

Other Things to Know

  • Sometimes I’m going to ask why. It’s not a challenge, it’s a question that will help us get on the same page and find the best outcome.
  • Feedback is on a tight schedule. If I don’t get your notes within the specified time frame, our project deadlines can be thrown off. 
  • Remember, we’re in this together. Feedback can be challenging, but when we work collaboratively, we can produce something truly valuable for your business.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know and we’ll talk this through.

Sincerely,

Matt

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