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By Emily Kassmeier

How to Give Design Feedback for Your New Website

Your new website project just kicked off — congrats!

Whether it’s a brand new website being built or you’re redesigning your existing site, this is an exciting time.

You’ve picked a skilled design and development team that you trust, answered their initial questions, and communicated your needs and goals for the project. Now you’re waiting. Hoping your designer comes back with something that fully encapsulates your brand and supports your business objectives.

What comes next can feel intimidating. You might be asking yourself “What if I don’t like it? How do I tell my designer what I’m thinking about their work? What if I don’t know the right lingo to use to explain it?”

These are normal concerns to have. Creating a new website is a big undertaking for any brand and, understandably, you want to make sure it ends in a success. It can feel scary to trust an outside team to help you bring that to fruition.

To help you walk confidently into a feedback conversation with your web designer, here are pointers on how to give productive design feedback for your new website.

Be specific

We expect you’ll find things that you like and don’t like about the new design for the site. You should talk about both the likes and dislikes with your designer, and pay attention to the level of detail you use to explain them. “I don’t like it” or “it doesn’t pop” are fair assessments to make, but those statements don’t give your designer a lot of information to work with. Hearing vague feedback like this makes it difficult for them to identify what needs to change.

It’s more effective to use concrete language to describe exactly what you do and don’t like about the design. “The colors are too muted.” “This section layout doesn’t feel balanced.” Statements like this are clear enough that your designer won’t need to guess at what you mean, so they’ll be able to present a solution faster. It’s okay if you’re unsure of the technical terms to use when referring to different parts of the design. Be detailed in your explanations and show a visual when you can so you and your designer stay on the same page.

As you give specific feedback about your dislikes, let your designer propose solutions. You aren’t expected to come up with solutions to every design problem you present. Your designer is the expert in this area, so you can rely on them to find the best answer. If you have an idea about a possible solution, you can mention it as a suggestion, but keep in mind your designer may have reasons for approaching the problem in a different way that works better for your needs. Ask them to explain and trust that they’ll guide you in the right direction.

Don’t get caught up in the wrong details

Headings, typos, individual buttons, and other small components are easy to change. Try to not get caught up in these minor details when giving feedback. These things are best addressed later in the process. For now, focus on the big picture. Think about the design as a whole — the overall structure and flow of the content, and how your audience will interact with it. When in doubt, ask your designer what details matter most at this point.

Ask questions

Successful design feedback is a collaborative discussion. You should expect to ask questions about the design and the decisions that went into creating it. Asking clarifying questions like this will help you understand why the designer made certain choices, such as placing elements in specific places, selecting particular typefaces or colors, and so forth.

A great designer is ready to explain their thought processes behind these decisions and educate you about relevant design topics (e.g. visual flow or hierarchy, accessibility, grid-based layouts) when needed to help you better understand the site. If they don’t offer to walk you through this, be sure to ask them.

Remember your goals

Design decisions should be made with your business goals in mind. Focus more on those goals than personal preferences when giving feedback. Rather than saying “I don’t like the menu,” it’s more helpful to think along the lines of “Our customers might find it difficult to navigate this menu. How can we make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for?”. Remembering your business objectives will help you stay impartial with your feedback.

To evaluate the design with your goals in mind, ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • Does this feel like a natural extension of my brand?
  • How will my audience interact with it? Does the flow make sense for them?
  • How well does this design contribute to the overall success of the project as I’ve defined it?

Giving design feedback for your new website can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Don’t rush yourself through the process. Take plenty of time to carefully review the design multiple times before going into a conversation with your designer. Walk away from the design and revisit it the next day — you might notice different things with a fresh pair of eyes. Make notes about your thoughts and questions so you can feel prepared to talk about them with the designer.

Overall, aim to address things early. It’s often harder (and costlier) to make changes the further along the project is. If you feel something isn’t headed in the right direction, speak up and ask questions early so it doesn’t become a setback later on. With these pointers in mind, you can feel assured the conversation with your designer will be productive and set you up for success with the next phase of the project.

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By Emily Kassmeier

Project & Marketing Manager

Emily can often be found reading, enjoying the outdoors with her dog, and trying to keep her houseplants alive.