Even feedback you don’t use is valuable, so it’s important to get it where you can! Our team loves peer feedback, and here’s why…
Feedback: some people dread it, while others love it. Nevertheless, both seasoned pros and wet-around-the-ears designers benefit from constructive criticism as they hone projects to meet their clients’ needs. Having said this, not all feedback is useful. Unfamiliar with the creative process, some clients use awkward phrases, like “I’ll know it when I see it” to try to nudge creatives in the right direction. On the other hand, peer feedback can help you produce first-rate designs much more quickly.
Your clients may be experts in their fields, but they’re probably less experienced with graphic design. That’s why they hire you. Good-natured back-and-forth will always be part of the creative process, but asking for feedback from other designers can make it easier to get the point. Your peers create logos, posters, flyers and other items professionally, and they know what works and what doesn’t work.
Most designers enjoy helping their fellow creatives produce engaging work. They can draw on years of collective experience to give you really good advice you can build on. Pick one or more designers whose achievements you admire and ask them to review your project, allowing them ample time to respond. One last thing: never be afraid to ask why they recommend specific changes, because if you understand why certain design elements work and others don’t, you can improve future projects.
Improve Your Work
One of the most obvious reasons to ask for feedback is to improve the project you’re working on. If you’re on a tight deadline, feedback can help you come up with an interesting concept quickly. Implementing constructive criticism can also help you grow your consumer base. Clients love quick, responsive professionals who come up with compelling designs and frequently recommend reliable designers to others.
Try asking for constructive criticism from others in your office, or remotely via email, fairly early on in your project. Then, present your client with a limited number of design choices to make it simpler for them to figure out what they actually want. Give your future work an edge by posting finished projects on creative networks like Behance or Dribbble and welcoming feedback from other designers.
Learn New Things
Incredibly flexible, the Adobe suite invites creativity within its bounds, and no two designers work with its products in precisely the same way. With that said, your peers know the ins and outs of Photoshop, the nuances of Illustrator and time-saving tricks in Lightroom. The person sitting opposite you might know how to achieve a certain result in minutes, rather than hours. Intriguing layer styles, Photoshop actions, custom brushes and more all get passed from designer to designer.
Many creatives learn most efficiently by example, and the more you ask for feedback, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more experience you gain, and the more experience you have, the easier you’ll find the creative process. Concepts like the Golden Mean, ideal text placement and color theory can help you craft more appealing designs, improving your reputation in the industry.
Open Your Mind
If the thought of feedback makes your heart flutter in an anxious way, relax. By taking constructive criticism to heart, you’ll evolve into a stronger designer and improve your earning potential. Pick your mentor carefully and ask them to tell you the truth; then, take what they have to say seriously and implement it in your work. If your clients love what they see, you’re on the right track.
Having said this, you don’t always need to use the feedback you get in your designs. Simply listen to what others have to say and stay open-minded along the way. Filter out any bias from the feedback and then try to analyze it to get the most “bang for your buck.” Bear in mind that malicious or destructive feedback has no value, so you can safely ignore it and avoid that particular contributor in the future.
Creative professionals notoriously spend much of the time alone, crafting new and innovative designs in sequestered environments. Even when they work in offices together, designers often shut out the world and get on with it, stoically working after hours to bring projects to fruition. Isolationism can be desirable at times, but it can also cut you off from potentially supportive peers.
When you reach out to colleagues for advice, you show them respect, you generate trust and you nurture working relationships. Harmoniously connected teams frequently generate more exciting and engaging concepts than teams whose members choose to stay secluded. Being part of a community can also give individual designers a fulfilling positive boost.
Feedback isn’t always complicated and negative. Quite often, you’ll receive resoundingly positive feedback, which can help improve your confidence as a designer. Your peers might ask you how you achieved your design as they look for ways to improve their own work. Few things lift the spirit more than an admiring comment from someone you consider more experienced than you.
Like other types of feedback, praise works best when you genuinely accept it. You need to be able to receive the compliment and internalize it to benefit from its positive message. So, take affirmative feedback as seriously as you do constructive criticism.
Give Constructive Feedback
Over time, asking for and gracefully implementing feedback can help you learn how to give constructive criticism to others. Think of the most helpful feedback you’ve received as a designer and model your own criticism on it. Use the sandwich technique, in which you envelop corrective feedback in two alternate layers of praise, to deliver criticism in a positive way. Above all, be truthful, be considerate and be helpful.
Asking for peer feedback may seem daunting, but it can help you achieve a better end result and it can also teach you how to give helpful feedback to others. The key to success lies in the type of feedback you get and how you implement that feedback in your work — or not. At the very least, asking for peer feedback helps build camaraderie in a typically isolated work environment, and newfound kinship often leads to future collaboration.
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