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How To Run a Design Critique Unlike a brainstorming meetingwhere the goal is to come up with new ideas, a critique meeting is focused on evaluating a set of existing ideas, and possibly identify future directions or changes.
Goals of a design critique A design critique involves a small group of to discuss a set of sketches or prototypes. If there are 3 or 4 specific questions you want answered, define them. Without goals everyone will work from different assumptions, and it will be more of a brainstorm meeting than a critique.
Its worth flagging ideas that engineers or business managers have large concerns about, but hold off on completely eliminating them from the discussion. But as the project timeline progresses the tone of critique discussions should change.
There should be pressure to have solutions to issues, and the bar for considering new ideas should get higher. If managed well the scope of critique discussions should peak during planning and continually decrease.
Often there is a key leadership role for designers to play to fill this gap. Overall, the tone, content and quality of critique meetings is one indicator to how well the creative process is being managed.
Typical goals for critique meetings might include: Obtain specific kinds of feedback from those in the room about a set of different design approaches for one feature or area of a website. Compare how several different components of the same product are designed.
Are there elements that should be reused more? Do things that look similar behavior similarly? Discuss the user flow through a design, by examining each screen in the sequence that users would go through to complete a task.
Similar to a cognitive walkthrough. Explore the designs of competing products, or designs of other products that have elements or qualities that you want to achieve. Allow teammates with different job functions to provide feedback from their expertise.
QA might raising testing issues, development might ask feasibility questions, marketing might ask questions about advertising or partnerships, etc.
These goals listed are mostly mutually exclusive. Secondary goals often include: Provide some structure to the creative process of a project. Teach non-designers about the design critique technique, so they can apply it to other kinds of problem solving situations.
Independent of the specific critique goals: During the meeting, write them down on a whiteboard or notepad, and take them with you when you leave. Even if the issues you are confronted with arise from decisions out of your control a demand from the marketing team, or a new constraint from engineering you want your designs, and your design process, to work with these issues, not around them.
Unless you feel confident that your superior design and skills of persuasion will convince someone with authority to change their mind. Who is in the room A critique should allow a small group of people to review and discuss many ideas quickly and informally.
Instead, you must narrow down your invite list to the people most critical to the design process. Try to forget about job titles or hierarchy, and instead, focus on the people who are most likely to understand the creative process, and give useful and meaningful feedback, both positive and negative.
Depending on the personalities of your teammates, make adjustments as necessary. Or even better, make sure to forward them any of the notes you send out following the meeting.
And even in the absolute worst case, make yourself available to listen to their feedback independent of the critique session. You can diffuse difficult teammates, appeasing them without derailing the critique meeting, and the creative momentum of the team. One alternative for designers in larger organizations: This can be a great way to build a sense of design community in your organization, and give you the benefit of other well trained design eyes, that are fresh to the problems your trying to solve.
The downside to this is that you miss on the opportunity to build better design relationships with the non-designers on your team.
In the best possible world, you might have time to do both kinds of critiques, at different times in your project. Materials and rooms Depending on the kinds of designs your working with, and the goals you have, you might arrange the room differently, and bring different kinds of materials. In the simplest kind of critique, where you have several alternatives to the same design problem, make it easy for everyone to see each design approach.
There are several ways to do this: Print a stapled handout of the 5 or 6 pictures and give each person a copy.The Purdue University Online Writing Lab serves writers from around the world and the Purdue University Writing Lab helps writers on Purdue's campus.
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