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Design feedback with feeling

Why designers need to give feedback based on how things feel

Giving feedback or design critique is an essential part of the design process. How things feel is an important part of this process.

In our design team we try to regularly give feedback on each others work. This is how I approach giving feedback for a design or solution.

If it feels wrong

If it feels wrong. It is wrong.

If it feels wrong then you need to work out why.

Go back to first principles. Design principles. What’s the user need? What problem are we trying to solve? Does the solution feel as simple as it could possibly be?

If you can answer these questions, then move to the detail. How does the typography, colour, and layout feel? Again, if it doesn’t feel right then work out why.

If it feels right

If it feels right. Question it, pull it apart.

Good ideas are anti-fragile. They get stronger when exposed to pressure, stress and uncertainty.

This is the space where we need to pull ideas apart and put them back together again. Challenge any assumptions and work out why something is working.

Why it matters how things feel

For a product or service to be good, to work well, it has to feel right.

If something is unnecessarily complicated, or lacks cohesion it will feel broken. It might not always look broken, but it just won’t feel right.

We all use products and services that work but somehow still feel broken, disconnected or disjointed. These are often frustrating user experiences. Think about online banking or corporate websites and I’m sure that you’ll find an example.

Trust your feelings

As with everything in life, learn to trust yourself with feelings. Designers need to develop a strong sense for how things feel.

Ask the question – “how does this feel, and how will people feel when they’re using it?”

Remember that people suffer with bad products and services because we don’t ask ourselves better questions. This is why giving feedback is so important.

Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). You can follow all of Ben's blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter for more regular updates.