The push and pull of giving design feedback

Some more thoughts on design feedback.

Push or pull? Some doors open one way, and the rest open the other way. Sometimes ideas needs more pull. And sometimes you need to push.

Pull often means more alignment and anchoring is needed back towards a brief. It’s pull that brings work back within an agreed set of constraints. But also think about when to push ideas further, especially when trying to pull things back into alignment. 

To stretch the analogy, most exit points, like an exit from a room or a building, open inwards (pull). This might mean having to take a step back to open a particular door.

Timing and context are important as well. If you push while something else is pushing from the opposite direction, then nothing moves. This is usually what I think of as unhelpful, badly timed or inappropriate feedback. It’s push when pull was needed, or a lack of awareness of which doors are already wide open. The wrong kind of push or pull can mean that a door also stays firmly shut.

Frustration because of feedback is often due to the effort of different forces, opinions, and intentions working against each other, but then amounting to nothing.

Ben Holliday is an experienced designer, 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.