How to critique

Design

I haven’t posted about design for awhile but recently I ran across an article that I thought was worth sharing, Web Design Criticism: A How-to.

In creative fields reviews and critiques are an everyday part of the creative process. Your design is pulled apart, judged, opined upon, and sometimes outright trashed. Seem unfair? Well, this isn’t fine art and you just can’t do whatever you want and hand it to the client. Critiques, you have to remember, are not personal attacks on the designer. They are attacks on the design. Critiques, especially constructive critiques, push thinking and solutions in directions that may not have been considered. The goal is to find the flaws, best communicate the message, and make the client happy.

Bad critiques, however, are almost as bad as not having a review at all. Problems are not solved, direction isn’t focused and all you get is a frustrated designer shooting in the dark at an imaginary target. Most importantly, bad critiques offer absolutely nothing towards selling your design to clients.

So what is a good critique? Well, one that offers insight and solutions. As the author of the article succinctly states, “I’ve come to define a good critique as one that takes a gut reaction, applies context and understanding to it, and then communicates that in a constructive, conversational way.”

I can say that people I work with mostly offer very good critiques (mostly, but not always). When rules for good criticism are followed the process is a great learning experience. Yes, they can be brutal, but an objective opinion will push you farther in your discipline.

The article focuses on web design, but I think it can apply to any kind of review process. Give the article a read and pass it on. Maybe it will make your critiques run smoothly in the future.

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~ by JR Prospal on 2 March 2010.

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