3 Basics to Providing Better Feedback

Throughout the course of your project, there will be multiple opportunities to share your invaluable feedback and thoughts. When starting your project review, there are three basic guidelines to keep top of mind:

1. Not all feedback is created equal.

Pick the right team.
Think of your target audiences and end users, which may or may not be Becky from Accounting or your mom.

If you’re reviewing creative work like website design concepts, recruit someone who you think has one or more of these qualities:

  • a keen eye
  • an understanding of basic design principles
  • a UX design background
  • a marketing background

When it’s time to review the BETA site, recruit someone organized and detail oriented. It’s never too early to get real user feedback, so find ways to include them at key stages throughout the process.

Assign responsibilities.
If there are multiple stakeholders, which is common for larger organizations, identify who is crucial, what is their role, and how much time they will need. Being proactive will minimize unsolicited feedback.

Qualify the feedback.
Include light & heavy users, both who have different expectations and needs, to get a range of feedback. Work through the similarities and differences in their feedback to understand what needs attention and possible retooling, and what does not. Your mom might think it would be great if there were more cat videos, but did anyone else?

2. Get it right.

Speak the same language.
Make sure everyone’s on the same page by using the same vocabulary. If you’re not sure what that is, have a conversation with the whole team and work through the terminology. If your car desperately needs an oil change and the mechanic thinks you only want some washer fluid, you’ll end up with a broken down car with a super clean windshield.

Be clear and concise.
Give issues a name, provide short descriptions and applicable examples if available. If it’s a multi-faceted problem, include a short bulleted list to help provide all relevant pieces of information.

Focus on the problem, not the solution.
You’ve invested a lot of resources to find the right partner and you chose them for their expertise. Ask questions. Explain the issues you foresee. Let them provide answers and possible solutions. When your car makes a funny noise, it usually works out better for your wallet if you let a mechanic look into it before requesting the engine be taken out and x-rayed.

3. Make a list. Check it twice.

Organize the feedback.
Once you’ve completed aggregating and qualifying your feedback, group related items together to make it more digestible and give the group a name. If the menu of your favorite restaurant didn’t tell you what’s an appetizer, main course, or a dessert, you might make the classic mistake of ordering chocolate cake for dinner.

Determine your priorities.
Once you’ve grouped related items, look at them with a strategic eye and take a pass at assigning priorities to the feedback. It’s important to examine your feedback, so everyone’s on the same page with the priorities. Ultimately, if everything is important, then nothing will be.

Think of it this way: If you could only pick three key items that need to be addressed in some form or fashion, what would they be? Granted you may have more than three, however this exercise helps you understand what’s important, especially if time and budget are big considerations. Typically, you’ll see the lower priority items aren’t critical and can be addressed later when you have more time and budget.

Team alignment.
You’ve spent time reviewing the work and your partner will need time to review your feedback. Once everyone understands what the concerns are and is on the same page, it’s time to go to work.

Don’t suffer in silence.

Depending on the phase of the project – Discovery, Design, QA Testing, etc. – there are nuances to what’s being reviewed and your project team is available to help with the specific details or anything you may need to know.

If you have questions – ask them.

If you need more time for review – ask for it.

If your team of reviewers and stakeholders are driving you crazy and you need a mediator, contact your partner. They can be a great facilitator to bridge communication gaps, consult on the process, and help you get to the finish line.