Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Design Clients Management

Collating feedback on design

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Design Clients Management

Collecting client feedback on a design – say the design of a web page, or a form or the footer of a mobile website – can be a challenge.

The challenge is at two levels:

One, ensuring that you (the web designer) and the client are speaking the same language and looking at the same design.

For it is not a client’s fault that they do not necessarily talk the same language as the web designer, have much less experience in reviewing web designs and generally struggle with the process.

In any event, miscommunication and misunderstanding on both sides is an issue and a challenge and one that needs careful management and support.

And two, how feedback is actually, literally received.

Annotations on a PDF, an email, a Google Doc or something-between?


Where these two challenges combine, all hell can break loose.: misunderstanding, confusion, missed requests, contradictory requests. It isn’t pleasant, especially when the client starts to question the capability and commitment of the web designer (and the quality control skills of their Web Producer/Project Manager) and conversely, the web designer is pulling out their hair and muttering under their breath.


Thankfully, we are a bit more mature and experienced, though not always

Today, most web design clients have had experience designing and developing websites and where clients have dedicated digital teams and sophisticated marketing departments, the journey can be pleasant and productive indeed.

Though not always.

A few recent experiences and observations had me thinking.


1. Never skip the prototype

It is a golden rule in our business though even golden rules can and have been broken.

Never skip the prototype (wireframe). It is a false economy and getting to design ‘early’ almost always leads to grief.

The prototype is lightweight and malleable. It allows changes in design to be captured for what they are, protecting both web designer and client.

I appreciate that some people cannot understand prototypes and need something more visual, though that is no excuse to skip the phototype phase.

Prototypes have your interests in mind.


2. Push for specifics via baby steps

It is often hard for clients to articulate feedback though providing articulated feedback is a requirement of the process.

Both parties need to take baby steps from the ‘it’s just not right, though I can’t put my finger on it’ piece of feedback: the web designer understanding the difficulty the client is having and vice versa, the difficulty the web designer is having with ambiguous statements and requests.

Do not commit to further design until you have found a way to agree on the feedback and direction; committing to design is just wading back into the quicksand from which you are trying to emerge.

And that helps nobody.


3. Find a central and useful mechanism for collecting feedback

We use Jira for managing client projects, especially around issues, bugs and feedback. Given the net-worth of the founders, it would be fair to argue that Jira is a pretty effective piece of software for collecting the sort of feedback our Producers need.

Though is Jira efficient for the creative process?

The answer is yes, though creativity isn’t necessarily where efficiency is a leading virtue, especially if it frustrates the creative process and the client.

We are trialling a tool called Invision to show clients their designs:

  1. The designs are stitched together, linked and animated along the lines that the designs work like the prototype, and pretty much like the final website.
  2. The designs are presented within the target device (e.g. an iPhone) so the client can see how they will present to final users.


The tool then allows clients to make notes and to provide feedback on the design itself as small, annotated and contextual notes. Where multiple users are contributing feedback, all users can see the feedback of all other users.

This blog isn’t a review or a recommendation of Invision except that it was interesting to watch some of our designers argue in its favour (i.e. a better client experience) against producers, who rallied behind Jira and having everything centralised, easily viewable and comparable and so forth.

Every web designer and web design agency is different in how they do things. Equally, clients are all different.

Whatever and for whoever, collect feedback in a central place and allow to be structured such that:

  1. Web designers can comment and provide feedback/justification.
  2. You can identify and point out where feedback has been missed or misunderstood.
  3. Changes to changes and contradictions can be identified and dealt with accordingly.


Good luck; the creative process relies so heavily on subjective feedback though with just enough objective feedback thrown into the mix, it really is a time to get what works.