November 7, 2016
How to get better feedback
At SplitMango one our biggest strengths is our open communication and collaboration within our team and with our clients. We believe the most important part of our job is to collaborate with our clients and work closely together to get the best results. To get projects done, feedback is a crucial part that keeps us in tune with our clients needs.
Being effective at asking, dealing with and replying to feedback translates into more useful and constructive insight. It is a necessary part of creating a final product that is relevant, meets internal goals and client’s expectations. From our experience this is what we have learned:
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Feedback is not about your personal ability, it’s about finding the best solutions to problems. Great feedback is not always positive feedback either, and a client that finds no issues may not be looking hard enough at what you’ve created. You should read or listen to feedback with empathy to try to understand where the comments are coming from, and why adjustments should be considered. You and your client are working together to achieve a goal, if something is not working it needs to be change.
Keep Communication Between 1 or 2 People
Sometimes a lot of people get involved in projects. They sometimes involve the main client, marketing team, internal designers, board members, and so forth. Each one of them will be excited about the part of the project that affects them and each one often will have an opinion of what the best solution is. You can’t blame them for wanting their portion of the website to be tailored to their exact needs, but it gets hard to manage everyone’s expectations, especially when they arrive late into the project. It’s encouraged to ask one member of the client team to communicate all of the feedback internally and then become the single point of contact when presenting the ideas to you. That makes the work easier for everybody involved and allows work to be done more quickly and accurately.
Use Your Project Management Tools Wisely
How you manage the communication with the client makes a big difference. Keeping the messages organized so you can go through them easily, without getting lost among tons of emails is a key part of a successful project. At SplitMango we use InVision, and Basecamp as our main communications tools. InVision lets us show clients their project’s prototypes, but all the communication is kept in Basecamp to have one central location for feedback and project notes. That works for us, but the key is to find the way that works best for your workflow and stick to it.
Feedback shouldn’t be a prescription that you have to follow every time, remember that you are the experienced expert. When a client wants to make the logo bigger, or move things around, ask why and try to be very specific to make sure you are clear on what is behind the comments. Sometimes feedback gets mixed with personal preferences, which is not bad, but needs to be purposeful. Just be sure everything is aligned with the goals and strategies set for the project, and reflects what is in the scope of your agreed upon work.
Don’t be afraid to disagree. But if you do, always share the reasoning behind it and offer an alternative solution. Remember they hired you as an expert, and they are paying you to solve a problem. Do your work to the best of your ability and explore the different solutions available to you when a an issue comes up and make your professional recommendation.
As Mike Monteiro says in his book Design is a Job (an excellent reading, by the way) “Good work comes from mutual respect.” Include your client’s opinions from the beginning, let them own their project and guide them in the right direction.