Helping others with feedback

April 10 , 2008 2 comments

Once upon a time

I had a discussion with Geert Leyseele & Veerle Pieters over at Duoh! that keeps coming up again and again. They get lots of emails and I have started getting some too from people asking to promote their projects and websites. We all like to help but we’re short on time for things we want to do. So here goes my humble opinion….

Focus

If you are launching a new project remember to focus on what your project is.

Example: If your product is a shiny new red ball. Your focus should follow this train of thought. Why your red ball is different than others? Does it bounce better? Does it make a sound? Does it have a texture that sticks to the wall?  Is it the color or texture different? Why do I want to spend my hard earned money on the red ball you are pitching to me when I have a perfectly good red ball that I have had for a while? If you can explain that well in the 1 minute I have to scan and check out your site then you’ve won a major battle.

Possible pitfall #1: Staring at the product for too long, you are too close to it and know it too well to step back.
Solution:Getting feedback from people who haven’t been staring at the same page over and over for the last week. Getting fresh eyes helps in the case we were discussing.

For me: Even if it is a great product and is better than the rest and If I can’t figure out what it is in a minute (I read/scan/click) then it’s not better.

Possible pitfall #2: What you created turned into something else.
Solution: make the message for the product relate to the new product. Don’t market it as a red ball if it was supposed to be blue.

Critiques

Being on both sides on this it’s been a learning experience. For both the person giving feedback and receiving it you need to treat the person with respect. Chemistry for teams is very important and if you loose that because of the lack of respect it is hard to regain.

Giving the critique:
Give feedback that is about the focus of the project. Explain why you do not like the color red, more than I hate red. It doesn’t give the designer anything but “avoid using red and all shades of red” for the next version of the project. Now if your feed back is that red means “hot” and it is a label for cold, then that makes sense. Make sure it is in the right context.
If you are unsure about what your product is then think about what it was you wanted and articulate it.

Receiving the critique:
Listen to what they are trying to say. Try your best to not take it personally. Remember to stand your ground on why you were making the decision. The person giving the feedback was asking for your help because it is your expertise but remember to listen without attitude. Being assertive but not rude.

Promoting

Thank you for sending me your project/product/website. I hope it does well. I hope that Boing Bong, or a Tech Crunch or a style gallery shows off your website. I am a consultant and at least for now not a marketing machine. My blog posts have been about my design, conferences, and things I feel are relevant to me and I write about it. I do like writing things I like a lot but if your site lacks focus then I’m going to do my best in trying to help with what little time I have at the end of the day.

Example: I was asked to promote their website.
My response: Thank you and I will check it out! I only add people I know (it was about my cool sites section on my main page aka blog roll).
Response from person: I can send you a photo
My response: No, Thank you. What you have done is great and I hope you continued success so one day the rest of us can ask you for help :)

Hopefully inspiring them to make the best website/product/blog for fame and glory via the internet and they wouldn’t need me or anyone else to add them.

Inspire others! Crossing fingers and toes that this helps.

 

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Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 06.34 pm

Veerle Pieters

That’s so well written lady :) This is good advice I can learn from. It’s always good to discuss and ask opinions. I also always try to add positiveness (e.g. some tip on some element of the design) in my feedback if I can, thinking ‘if this person was me’ you know.

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Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 01.58 am

Nick Whitmoyer

So, if I developed a really cool or even somewhat cool product for Hello Kitty you wouldn’t promote it? Scha-right! :D

Seriously though, you’ve touched on a few great points Cindy!

A product should be worth talking about without the need to confront individuals directly about promoting it. Innovative ideas are the ones that are typically worth talking about.

Critiquing is fun. As a designer I respect actual honesty over sugarcoating a critique. I sometimes wish if I could get stronger critiques from people. Providing critiques is fairly easy for me. I generally start with a lot of questions if I don’t get something and I’ll turn it into a constructive conversation.

Maintaining a focus is good, but it’s okay to have versatility too. WD-40 is a great example. In addition to using it as a lubricant for rusty parts, it’ll also remove the sticky residue left from tape & stickers, unfreeze a car door lock in the middle of the winter and will save the day by removing lipstick from a wedding dress among a million other things. This versatility is something that wasn’t realized until after the products initial intent.

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