As promised, I came up with a few quick tips for designers to help elicit the best and most helpful feedback from clients!
1.) EXPLAIN YOUR DECISIONS
Explain the strategy behind the decisions you are making. In our zoom world, a recorded screen capture, or having a virtual meeting with screen sharing on are both great ways to do this. I especially like screen recordings because I sometimes lose my train of thought in virtual meetings, with multiple people talking at the same time. Also a good choice for those with presentation anxiety! But with either option, you can pan around your images and point out things, and also it’s easier for the client to make the connection between the visual and the verbal. It can be harder if you send images and then write a long email explaining them. Confession: I used to do this all the time. After a lot of failed communication, I found that I hated writing the explanations and my clients also hated reading them! Jumping back and forth between an email and attachments can be very time consuming and confusing.
Get used to explaining your decisions from both a formal perspective (line, shape, color, contrast, etc.) and a strategic perspective (how my clients will interpret these decisions, what actions will result from these decisions). Also, these two areas are related and you can often draw connections between them. For example, These thick serifs suggest grounding and strength and will further your goal of your customers having faith that your products are durable and will last.
2.) REMIND THEM TO KEEP THE TARGET AUDIENCE IN MIND
Ask your client if they think the design will appeal to their target audience and meet the goals they have set. I have found that sometimes clients allow their personal tastes, memory associations, etc. to influence their feedback. Designers are more conditioned to design for a client and so that separation comes more naturally to us. Don’t assume that you client is thinking that way! Remind your client to keep their target audience and strategic goals in mind when assessing all creative work.
3.) DO NOT SHOW ANY OPTION THAT YOU DON’T THINK WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT CHOICE FOR YOUR CLIENT
I have done this so many times. I do an extra option just to feel like I have done enough work, or that they will have enough options to choose from and I am not happy with it, but I’m sure they will choose one of the other directions anyway, so it’s fine. That’s often true, but when they do chose the option that was not as well thought out, it leads to problems down the road when it is not working for whatever reason. So just leave it off! Quality over quantity.
4.) ASK IF THEY ARE COMFORTABLE MOVING ONTO THE NEXT STEP.
Whatever step in the process you are in, make sure your client is comfortable moving onto the next step before continuing. This will avoid getting close to the end of the process and having to go back and re-concept.
5.) ASK FOR FEEDBACK AT THE END OF THE PROCESS.
No matter what you are designing, it’s always helpful to get feedback from your clients about your process. It can be tough to hear but it is a window into the other side of the equation and is so valuable. Happy designing!