Feedback is essential in product design. It allows designers to enhance the design and promotes a positive culture where they can flourish. This technically differs from the usual end-user feedback organizations would use to assess the product's effectiveness. Read through this article to discover more about this technique.

What is a design critique?

A design critique is a session where professionals and designers present their respective works to colleagues like UC designers, product managers, developers, and visual designers to get constructive feedback. Using a design critique template allows teams to improve their designs, iterate their projects, and assess whether the initially presented solution meets the needed goals and objectives. In some cases, designers use this technique to identify their possible bottlenecks when developing solutions. 

When to use a design critique template?

One can maximize a design critique template throughout the design process. This is to ensure that the design meets the objectives and requirements thoroughly. Here are some scenarios where the design critique will come in handy.

  • Early stages of conceptualization. The team can already get feedback from your peers even if all you have are design concepts and ideas. This allows you to identify effective ways to fulfill your main goals for your design.
  • Mid-design phase. While your team is in the middle of the design process, it pays to invite some colleagues and update the design critique template. This is to assess the existing design elements, receive suggestions, and address the possible loopholes.
  • Pre-delivery phase. Before the final presentation, design teams can utilize another design critique template to ensure the output is polished and ready for delivery.
  • After-project phase. This phase is like an evaluation of the overall design process and identifies the possible areas for improvements for the succeeding projects.

How to conduct an effective design critique session?

Conducting a design critique can be tricky. The session is generally similar to brainstorming, so the presenters and participants must stay focused. Also, the discussion must be constructive and ensure actionable outcomes.

It pays to use an editable design critique template to start with your critique. This way, team members can easily edit the document when necessary. Here are some steps you can follow to begin the design critique session.

  • Choose a template and place the essential background information. You can choose an editable design critique template where you can input your design or idea, feedback, and final decisions.
  • Invite your peers and set the rules. You never know what will happen during the session, so ensure to communicate how your colleagues should provide feedback. Some designers might feel attacked or insecure when receiving feedback. The best way to do it is to remind each one to be constructive and focus on the idea or design, not the designer who's presenting. Professionalism is key.
  • Present the ideas or projects. Besides listing the background information, it pays to discuss the design with your peers, who will provide feedback. Ensure to include the inputs provided from the previous sessions.
  • Collect feedback. This is where you'll receive input from your participants. There might also be questions during the session, so remember to list the essential points.
  • Create decisions. All the feedback and inputs from the session must be considered for the team's final decision. You can share the action plan with the participants, team members, and other stakeholders.

How to structure a design critique?

As a design presenter, guiding your colleagues or participants is vital so they can understand the design solution better. When formulating the design critique template, ensure to include the following:

  • Place the concept or design to be evaluated. This must be visible to all participants who will provide the feedback.
  • Present the context. Your peers can only give the correct feedback if you know about your idea or design. Besides explaining the context to your audience, it can also be helpful to include materials or information which helps them see the bigger context. This can consist of the problem and the possible solutions.
  • Specify the focus areas for the feedback. List the elements of your design for which you need input from your peers.
  • You can accept questions from your participants about the design process and other aspects within the feedback scope.
  • Provide a section on your design critique template where people can input their ideas about your design.
  • Next initiatives. Your team can create actionable steps to improve the concept or design and reach the group's desired result.

Example of a design critique session

In most cases, you'll have three essential sections: Background, Feedback, and Summary. Each designer has their respective ways of constructing a design critique template.

You might be tasked to present a new packaging design for a jewelry company. Here's an example of how to plot your digital design critique template.

  • The background section can overview the design, purpose, target market, and goals.
  • The feedback area can include color or style suggestions, some text styles and positioning might be updated, and other essential inputs from your evaluators. Since you can edit the template, ensure to note the points accordingly.
  • Finally, the summary section will have the decisions made or the next steps for your design - whether you'll consider changing some part of the design before having the final output.

Design Critique FAQs

What is the difference between a design review and a design critique?

A design critique involves meetings and discussions to collect feedback and input about an idea or design. This usually involves specific aspects of the design. Meanwhile, a design review focuses on the overall evaluation of a concept and tends to dive deeper into the creative process, usability, and project goals.

What is the purpose of design critiques?

Designers and companies use design critique to collect essential feedback from professionals and improve their final design. One must create the best solutions for their target markets in competitive industries. Along the way, designers will also learn from their peers about the best practices in design so they can apply them in their future projects.

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