How to give great design feedback

App Development
Jul 24, 2021
2 minute read

This roundup comes from a twitter thread by Julie Zhuo, Angel Investor and former VP at Facebook. Here she shares her best practices for giving helpful design feedback.

Everyone has an opinion on design.

There's always an immediate gut reaction: "Ooh, I love this!" or "Meh."

But how do you go beyond that to honing your skills of giving helpful, actionable feedback?

Here are the 7 questions I run through when critiquing a product's design 👇

— Julie Zhuo (@joulee) June 24, 2021

1) What is the user journey to get here?

You can’t furnish a room if you don’t know how someone lives.

So learn the context: Who is the user? When do they use this product? Why? How did they arrive here, and what's on their mind?

Don't critique unless you know this.


— Julie Zhuo (@joulee) June 24, 2021

2) What do we want users to feel and achieve here?

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Let’s understand what a successful outcome looks like before we start lobbing feedback about the design.


— Julie Zhuo (@joulee) June 24, 2021

3) How important is this page/experience?

In a perfect world, we make everything perfect.

In the real world, let's spend more collective energy on the stuff that really matters. More eyeballs? More high-stakes? = more thorough inspection of every detail.


— Julie Zhuo (@joulee) June 24, 2021

4) What is our scope/timeline/team?

If speed is critical, let’s get the greatest bang for the least effort. If we have more time and people, then let's remove constraints (#7) and dream bigger. The "best" design differs according to the time/people/money you have.


— Julie Zhuo (@joulee) June 24, 2021

5) For every proposed design change, am I confident it is better that what currently exists?

If no:
1) cut it
2) iterate on / improve the design
3) get more user feedback
4) A/B test it

Which to pick depends on the answer to #4


— Julie Zhuo (@joulee) June 24, 2021

6) What can we remove from this experience and have it work just as well?

When faced with a problem, we bias toward adding stuff to solve it rather than removing. So gut check if it's necessary. https://t.co/tj645yXhyU


— Julie Zhuo (@joulee) June 24, 2021

7) If we could throw all our constraints away, would we still design it like this?

While we can't typically throw all constraints away (see #4), it's still worthwhile to ask because we accept some things as constraints (due to legacy, etc) when they really aren't.


— Julie Zhuo (@joulee) June 24, 2021

...And here's a bonus one, about the ethics of design:

I would add #8: Is it ethical to design it that way and helps users lead a better live?

You can tick all #1-7 and get something horrible.

— Marie (@fl11la) June 24, 2021

At Bad Dinosaur we champion co-design, getting our clients involved and embedded in the design process from the very beginning. These weekly sessions give clients the opportunity to speak directly to designers. At Bad Dinosaur, we really believe that this is a great way to work, despite the amount of work it requires of the client - or maybe because of it. Check out our piece on co-design to find out more. 

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