The Nature of the Beast: Feedback!

When I first started working with Flosites, the miscommunications between designer and client were challenging to say the absolute least.  It took me a really long time to realize what I saw easily, and very separately, as typography, image treatment, illustration + layout; a photographer saw as calm, easy, and relaxed feeling, or modern, warm etc. Regardless- a completely different language, and a totally different way of processing images. Meaning there is no end to the amount of miscommunications that could result! What was originally a roadblock for me became a teaching moment to help both parties; explaining the differences in languages, and hopefully coming together to at least a common understanding to then build further feedback and direction from.

I thought that maybe pulling some of the ways I’ve been able to help clients could be a great way to help people understand feedback overall:

1) Focus on the positives
It’s true some people do find it easier to tell you what they dislike vs what they’d rather see, but having positive feedback on a design helps the designer create a set of boundaries for what could be, rather than what has to be. If all the designer has is a bunch of “don’t likes”, there’s hardly room for considering about how that could be changed. I’m not saying stray away from something that is clearly a no-no, but keeping things on the more productive, constructive criticism route, will always help bring new thoughts and ideas to the conversation, rather than just crossing off items on the list without anything to replace them.

2)Sifting through the pile!
I always tell clients NEVER EDIT! Yes I use capitals, it’s that important! Creating word lists, or filling out questionnaires for branding purposes, you always want to have more to work from info wise, rather than pulling at straws for bare minimums. Clients will always edit the FAQ and emails meticulously- they put a lot of time and energy into their business and want their brands to be equally strong as a result; my sole issue when it comes to extreme self editing, is that it sort of forces the client to take on my role as designer/interpreter as what is necessary, and what really isn’t going to help much in creating their brand. In the first stages of the process, the broadest strokes possible are needed to help set up an establishing foundation, and throughout the process, the client + designer work closely to fine tune the brand to the individual’s clients expectations. When things work against this process, it is a recipe for disaster! Trying to piece meal a brand together with elements from one thing pasted to another without building it from a concept, ground-up approach, will feel separate, disjointed, and inconsistent. Working broadest down to refined, will help catch any snags along the road if things are off style wise, and keeping things open and fluid will also strengthen any communication glitches along the way.

3) When to say WHEN.
If I’ve said it before, I’ve said it a hundred times; branding is painfully, scarily, horribly and wonderfully 100% subjective. There is no set way a logo should be, that a business should be run or represented, and no rule that I know of that says hot pink can’t be taken seriously. In the world of branding, all things are possible, it’s just all in how you work what you’ve got to make that happen. I know when I work on things, I pass them around a close circle of friends within the industry to get their opinions, so I absolutely understand and support client’s receiving feedback on their various comps for their own benefit. You need to love it, and you’re only going to really love it if your friends love it too- otherwise there’s that voice that nags you- I get that. I totally get it. Here’s where the designer in my comes in though- friends, husbands, facebook fans, lurker’s on your blog- whatever, their opinions? Awesome! Collect em up, and tell the designer overall your feelings and thoughts. I’ll be honest, sometimes it has helped to get an email forwarded from someone who knows the client better, but to me that’s just it- an easier way to get to know my client better, not to trust their judgement with the design of a separate client’s brand. I’m hired to work with a particular client on their individual business, and this is where my focus and attention will be spent.

Although it is a challenging albeit necessary part of the designer’s life, for me feedback just makes me smile, and giggle to myself that everybody I work with is 100% different. I’ve had the entire scope of personality when I tell you that I’ve had clients that I’ve made cry with my rounds– both from gladness AND from horror, as well as a client who liked everything pretty much the same, and just rated the comps from highest to lowest. It’s why I love what I do, and I know it’s why I can write to 10 clients a day, all needing separate things, and all wanting the same end goal; an amazing brand that represents their business.

I realize that while everyone is different, there are quite a few topics that pop up across the board… What do you guys think? I’d love to be more interactive with clients and people going through the process to help out, so if there’s any questions or concerns you’re having, send them over!

I see a Q+A Post coming soon 🙂

Until next time!
xo,
jne

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