Design Feedback

As some of you probably know, I’m a design contributor for WordPress. Lately, I’ve been working on Twenty Seventeen, the latest default theme. It’ll be released this December with WordPress 4.7.

A topic I wanted to bring up early in the public process for making Twenty Seventeen was design feedback. Designers, either through art school (which I didn’t go to), or working with other designers on teams, or even open source contributing, need to learn how to give and receive feedback. Most other people don’t have to learn this skill to succeed at their jobs. However, anyone can learn how to give good design feedback, even if you aren’t a designer. In fact, I believe it’s a good skill for anyone working in product design to learn. If you’re an agency designer, it’s also a good skill to teach your clients.

Here’s how I think good design feedback should be structured:

  • Empathize. Remember that behind every design is a person. If you wouldn’t say it to this person’s face, don’t say it on the internet.
  • Start with “I think…” and finish with “because…”.
  • Comment on particular elements that don’t work in the design, like the typography, colors, hierarchy, and composition. Try to be as specific as possible.
  • Stick to goal-oriented feedback: “This theme can become a better default theme for more users if it did [x], [y], and [z].”
  • Frame feedback as suggestions, not mandates. “What if you…” and “How about if you tried…” are great ways to present alternate ideas to a designer.

Twenty Seventeen’s been going swell and we’ve had a lot of great contributions and feedback from the community. Thanks to everyone who’s left a comment, or made a GitHub issue, and helped keep the process positive. :)

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