No one likes to be criticized, especially when it comes to your work. As a graphic designer, you pride yourself on having the right skillset, experience, and eye for detail. So, when someone elicits a negative response to a particular design you’ve poured your soul into, you feel, well, gutted, to say the least. But, as most of us in the industry know, constructive feedback is a powerful tool that does more good than evil.

Good Design + Sharing = Better Design

Getting more than one perspective on a creative graphic design project will allow you to enhance its look and functionality. If you work in a company with other designers, ask them to look over your work and provide honest feedback, and don’t be afraid of what they’ll say. Like you, their goal is to create better designs and help the company become successful.

Simply put, when you share your work, you’re encouraging other creatives to do the same. In an agency or office setting, this helps establish a collaborative, positive team environment.

If you're a professional contract designer or you work as the sole designer for a smaller company, your soundboard might seem limited. However, there are many credible graphic design forums, slack channels, and social media groups online that you can reach out to for advice or feedback.

Pro Tip: Opt for the design groups that require you to share your portfolio and receive an "invite" before joining. These types of exclusive groups work hard to keep the naysayers outside their circle and instead focus on keeping the conversation informative, helpful, and constructive.

Constructive Feedback vs. NaySay: How to Tell the Difference

In a recent podcast, I listened to a debate on whether it was counterintuitive to share your work online, as the growing trend of negative influencers continues to rise.

The truth is, as graphic designers, we spend so much time staring at a particular logo or web design project that we eventually lose our own ability to stay objective. When this happens, it’s time to call in other experts for help. Creating a collaborative community like this empowers each member of your team and makes everyone feel more willing to share their own ideas. When a creative team becomes too afraid to open up, get silly, and share their thoughts about a project, we have a major issue.

So, how do you know if feedback is constructive or naysay? Here's a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the criticism about you or the design?
  • Is the feedback too vague or does it inspire new direction?
  • Is the comment made harshly and abruptly or shared with empathy?
  • Is the opinion based on feelings or supported with a thoughtful explanation?

Once you can identify which end of the spectrum the feedback lands on, you can break apart which comments are naysay and which are constructive and will help you craft a better design.

Final Thought on Constructive Feedback for Creative Graphic Design

Before we go, we wanted to share one last tip on how to receive honest, constructive feedback that promotes higher standards and quality deliverables.

Whether you work in an agency or as a contractor, it’s best to share your work with the target audience for your design or product. To achieve this, you must first define the customer by creating a user persona, which should include a demographic, a story or background about the individual, and the person's expectations and desires for your design or product. Once you’ve successfully defined a user persona, find a person who fits that description and show the individual your work.

Keep in mind that this type of feedback is essential, as this individual represents the customer your design is trying to engage. Tune in next month for volume two of our Branding Your Small Business series, “Creating a User Persona.” Remember to stay connected to Beneath the Cloke for more tips and ideas on graphic design, content marketing, SEO, and so much more!

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