Giving creatives feedback is a task not many can do well! In order to get the best out of the brand and design process the team share their top tips. Join Chelsea, Jon, Lukas and Jim in this latest episode.
Giving creative feedback
Podcast Giving creative feedback
In this episode, we’re going to be talking about how to make the most of the design feedback process.
Hi, and welcome to so what’s up? I am with our entire design team today. And we’re going to be talking about how to give constructive feedback on the creative process so that you get the best results. So we’ve got Jim, we’ve got Lucas, and we’ve got our creative director, John. So guys, thoughts on this?
Oh, John start. Mr. Director, obviously, seniority.
Suppose we didn’t open in software, don’t we?
Okay, so I have a client that this is hypothetical, by the way, I have a client and they have just completely slated the first round of website designs that they’ve been given. How do you feel about it?
I suppose it depends on the actual feedback that’s been given. If it’s just like, I really don’t like it’s terrible. That’s not what we see as constructive. So I suppose it’s, it’s how we suggest you give constructive feedback,
especially if you’ve had a meeting before and as well. And you think I’ve made a list of what needs you know what they need? Yeah. And you think right, smashed it. Amazing. sent it off. No, terrible, not what I wanted whatsoever.
I think it’s, it’s one of those, isn’t it? So like, obviously, I know that I’m not visually creative, like you guys, but might do like a lot of the copywriting and that kind of like, the fluffy side of marketing, like the nice feelings and stuff that you evoke from words. And when I’ve had clients give me feedback around them not liking, like blogs, or like messaging and stuff. And sometimes they can’t articulate it themselves as to why they don’t like it. My first thing with stuff like that, where it’s been like, oh, I don’t like it, it’s terrible, or it’s boring. It’s like, okay, what’s it missing? I always try to jump to like, what is what isn’t it doing for you? Like, what’s, what’s missing from it for you? And that will be my approach with that one.
So it’s like, you need to go through point by point rather than say, I don’t like the whole thing. Do you not like the colour? Do you not like the imagery? Do you not like the layout? If you got any examples of what you would prefer? Yeah, it’s, it’s very easy to say, I don’t like it, fix it. Yeah. Done. From our point of view. We wouldn’t have a click.
Yeah, I think it’s always difficult, isn’t it? And I think clients think that they’re being helpful sometimes when they’re like, Oh, we wanted it to be more exciting or engaging. And it’s like, okay, but is that is that a visual thing? Is that the language that we’ve used? Is it? Is it the shapes that we’ve used, perhaps, what does exciting feel like to you or look like to you to the colours need to be more vibrant? It’s things like that really, isn’t it?
I think that recently, the best feedback I had, because we’re, we’re the first round design for the web service. And we’ve tried to establish the visual direction that will carry through the rest of the design process. And the client actually didn’t like the visual direction i I’ve established that they absolutely hated it, that they elaborated. And it’s such a great way did they actually pinpointed this is this. Those elements, they don’t work. They work with direction and go with that with that feeling of the company feeling with the product. Yeah. And he wrote a proper long essay about it, but it was super helpful, because then I knew exactly I could pinpoint what, what they want to achieve from a time obviously, I took a completely different turn, they loved it. And now in that was good. So the bad feedback, and feedback when they say they hate it is not silly. But if they can elaborate on that and actually say, what, what they don’t like about it? Well, they’d like to achieve. That’s like half a success. I think.
I think that’s a massive success. So because I think as a creative, you have put yourself out there with a design that you opened up to judging, they came back and it wasn’t positive. They told you exactly what I, you were then humble and like had that humility to be able to actually go through read all of that feedback, not take it personally, and then deliver on what they actually wanted and take those points into consideration. So I’d say that’s a massive, massive success. And I’ve worked with over creatives that do not have that mindset at all. And ultimately, that’s wrong because for a client you like they knew their business way better than you do and the sort of feelings that they want to have Oak, they just don’t have the physical ability to be able to use the tools and the design knowledge that you have to bring those feelings to life in a way that also is you like you with the utility that you’re able to offer.
It’s something that comes with time, because like in the beginning of a design career, you do treat every design like your personal art project, or put yourself in there. And then it does really hurt when you get negative feedback. Because obviously, guys that you put yourself in that design, but it’s it comes with time that that serves, it serves a purpose as utility, and you do have to kill your darlings sometimes just to achieve the good things.
Yeah, I like that.
I mean, it’s not something that we experienced so much. Now, because what we do is part of the design workshop, as we run through competitors on screen, we pick out varied styles in terms of websites and run through it a client and see what their kind of flavour is a guess what direction they want to take their site and just helps eradicate some of that. Completely wrong. Deliverance of design concept.
I think process definitely has a place doesn’t it and creativity. And we’ll talk about like the creative process and how we can make the most of it. Because, obviously, and you talk about time, as well, and having the experience, it’s not like university where you’re given like a free months to might know design, like a business card or something and you get to go away and explore all these things. As an agency, we sell time, and we sell our efficiency to do a job and deliver on that job in the timelines that you want something to be delivered to. And it’s difficult, isn’t it sometimes to I guess, manage creativity, because creativity is something that like you feel inspired to do, and you want to do. And I find this with like writing content and like coming up with creative social ideas. I can’t just schedule it into my day between like 11 and half 12. And I’m like, okay, that’s what I’m going to be doing some creative brainstorming. Like you have to like kind of get into a process and work your way up into doing it. Yeah, maybe that’s just me.
Some jobs are a bit more challenging than others. So except for one, in particular for me, he was combining three websites, and then combine those all into one. Yeah. So that the ideas behind that took me two days to figure out what path and what journey it’s it’s going to go through.
And then three sites all had their own branding as well. Didn’t they separate? Yeah. Yeah. So it will be important to one. Yeah. So trying
to do that and combine it into one on one brand. Yeah, it was very difficult. So it was headphones in and a quiet time in order for me to do that. But other jobs can be. So I’ve just come up with an idea, like an intuitive hunch type thing, as well. It helps if you do have the branding as well. Yeah. Because then one job was It was literally following Brandon. And Fantastic. Great job. Yeah. Amazing. So it’s, it does depend on a job of how much creativity? Yes, you are, you are allowed. Yeah, I
think that’s a good point to make, actually. So when you guys are getting feedback and amendments. Do you often find that clients that are quite clear on their vision, have those brand assets and those brand guidelines? Are they easier to work on in a way?
Yes, Sunday, sometimes some clients find it hard to let go. Okay. Not let go.
But there’s emotional attachment there. Definitely.
Yeah. So it’s hard to steer them in a direction that you think might be right. I mean, like you said before, it’s their business, so they know, inside out. So you can only help.
Yeah, we can only deliver really on what we’ve been contracted to deliver. Can’t we really, and I’m pointing the best direction.
Yeah. So ultimately, it’s just down to that feedback of I’m not really too keen on that. This is why I can it’s hard to move away from that brands or
Yeah. So flipping it, then let me ask the question in a different way. When clients come to you and they don’t have a clear direction, and they’re super woolly on what they actually want to achieve and they don’t really have any branding or maybe it’s like a Startup or MA, in a new business venture that they’re trying to bring into effect, and we had one of these a few months ago didn’t reach on that we were trying to, like do the work for him. He was almost like kind of going through his thought process for what this business could become, during the entire process. And I think in terms of because that our brief kept changing, it was hard for us to always keep up with like his entrepreneurial vision in a way, and really actually tie him down to something so that we could deliver something because it was just like the next big thing or like the next user journey, or the next target that we want to achieve. And it’s like, we’ve not even got your website yet. It was, it was quite difficult. And feedback wise, I always kind of felt like the feedback that we were getting was like, actually 10 steps away from where this business was actually going to be when it was first launched. It’s like trying to launch bloody and nowhere. Tesla hallways, no, it’s SpaceX, isn’t it? The rocket one like he’s not even like successfully had like, a space trip yet. But like, it’d be like he was trying to market himself in his holidays to Mars when it’s not there yet. But I think from that one, it was he changed the messaging, didn’t he? And then that impacted your design.
Yeah, I think we revisited the messaging quite a few times for that project, which heavily impacted design that we put together each time. Yeah, and the style and direction it took. We have three completely different art directions. And it just it was difficult.
Yeah, I think we could have put those three things up next to each other, and they all look like completely different brands, wouldn’t they in completely different service offerings. And so sometimes it’s quite hard to work with people who are so entrepreneurial that they just want to talk hypotheticals, and they don’t want to actually tie you down for something especially me personally, because I’m so like, kind of goal focused, and I’m like, Okay, what is the outcome of this? Like, what do you want to achieve? And I don’t know if you guys find it any easier to work with people like that, but I struggle
as well. It depends on if they have a certain idea, but then also between designs that you do have to go actually I’ve seen this now. Actually, I’ve seen this now.
Right in comparison, yeah.
And now you know, I want to go in this direction, it’s the best thing to do is know which direction you want to go in and stick to it. Because it’s very easy to to find something else that there’s always something else out there that you’ll you’ll also love the same amount. But yeah, it’s stick to do your research, do the research as to which way you want to go in and stick to it.
No commitment issues.
Okay, so another question Jim. And this one is specifically for you and I wait for you to see your face how do you feel when people say they just want you to make it pop go for it
I think any come on any any objective that’s just like a nothing word. Like and I get it as well when it’s just like oh, it’s least exciting. There’s an adjective like you kind of I can maybe make an educated guests that they want it to be a bit more vibrant and loud. But like anything where it’s just like I want it to be a little bit more quirky for example, it’s like okay, but quirky means different things to different people. Like I find people that were like oh no jumpers with sheep on them and like broke shoes quite quirky because like that, to me is a quirky style over people think like I don’t know when people that are more like alternative looking and like with their pink Mohawks are quiet quirky. Quirky is one of those is just a word that means so many different things to different people is basically like a posh version of pop.
Yeah, I think make it pop is as helpful as I don’t like it.
It’s yeah. I don’t like it. Try it again. That’s basically what makes it pop. Pop on on, like on 100% Pop. Do you want 50%
I’ll know when I see it. Yeah.
I actually had a client once who said imagine on shopping I want to buy something.
But I don’t know what so you window shopping for
basically. Yeah, so is window shopping. And I was I. Great. So you’re shopping for clothes? Are you shopping for tacky shopping for shoes? Are you shopping for?
I don’t know what I want until seeing what I don’t want. Yes.
Yeah. So you know that was eight proofs later. Yeah, I’ve completed trying to do eight proofs that are completely different. And going. Now our Avante, try again. I’ve come out of that shop and I’ve got I’ve just gone into another shop. And that point, when you’ve done eight proofs for the same thing, that you then go, do I go down the road? And fill in a form for Mauritians? And do I? Do I just go there to our stack shelves?
Yeah, no, I can. I can imagine. It’s kind of that creative burnout though, isn’t it? Where you genuinely do think that you’ve exhausted all options? And you’re kind of trying to please the impossible in a way?
Yeah. And sometimes a client might find it insulting when you go back to them and say, You need to go away and think about what you want. It’s not it’s not like I’m trying, you know, I’m saying that with me. Vein throbbing on before. going mental, it is genuinely, you need to have, like you say we sell time. Yeah. So after eight proofs, and elearning off 60 to 80 hours of work. Yeah, yeah, you need to think about it. Yeah.
And also as well like them now. Because I think obviously, what we try to do is, we obviously sell project projects as the time that we think because we’ve done enough of them now that we think it will take for us to get these and we have like the processes in place, like John’s mentioned, to make sure that they’re all effective and streamlined. But we’re not the type of agency that’s just going to sink that cost efforts like now around like free for and it’s not progressing anywhere, because people are changing their mind, from a client management side, like the mic and I deal with that’s now out of scope. And people need to be paid, like people need to pay for the privilege, then of wanting to see all of these different variations. Because ultimately, we’re a business and we want to help you achieve your goal. But if you don’t know what that goal is, and you just want to explore for things, pay for the creative time and the output for it. And I think we’re getting very hard on that now. And also as well of the kind of clients that we work with the way that we sell in the services be new, that we’re quite a goal focused and strategic agency, we want to partner with them to help them grow. We don’t want to be sat around designing proofs for the next quarter on something that actually might or might not be built. Like we just want to get it done so that we can start marketing effectively and to help you get your sales in or to help you get more leads. And ultimately, we want to help you achieve those goals. And the creative is an like it’s an incredibly integral part of it. And it’s important for all of the future work that we do. But I think it’s the one that people get hung up the most on, isn’t it? Yeah,
yeah. Yeah, they do. Like going back to the endless rounds of designs or redesigns that ultimately that’s going to hit the end product, because the both the client might get disheartened, designers will get burned out. Because there’s only so many rounds of revisions, changing colours and making the logo bigger that you can do before you lose that kind of connection to the project as well. And I think the one thing is to, to ask clients to do homework before just find out what they like what they don’t like. And that’s why we do the design workshops before that’s, this is just for the overall benefit for for the client for the projects and for the clients clients.
Yeah, so I think some top tips and for making sure that you project goes as smoothly as possible through the creative process. I would say and this is probably actually through any marketing account management that I’ve done, make sure that there’s just one, make sure there’s one person delivering the feedback. So even if there’s not one key decision maker, if you’ve got like three or four internally that you’re trying to please make sure that you have a meeting internally where you collate that feedback, and then have your, I guess, most most, most communicative contact then delivered that to the agency or your account. manager or the designer, street persons person? Because that’s going to speed it up if you’ve already done that work internally, because and also as well, from our side, no one wants to be sat in a meeting where we’re hearing for people from a company debate make their mind upon on the. So that will probably be my my biggest tip. Do you guys have anything else? To add to that?
I think a point to add to that is just making sure that people are involved in the feedback process or involved from the beginning, because we’ve heard it on occasions where more people get brought on board for design feedback halfway through the project, and it can take it right the way back to the very start of it. Stage one.
Yeah. It’s like a design by committee. That’s one of the tropes. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. It’s like you see all this progress. And then they bring someone else on board to deliver their feedback halfway through the project. And it’s just like, yeah, one step forward, two steps back. Yeah, true.
Yeah, I think being specific, as well as another one that’s been mentioned quite a few times in this one, actually, doing your homework, being specific about what you do and don’t like don’t use fluffy words like a centric, pop, quirky, and exciting, like, try to be specific about what you don’t like, never asked for the logo to be made big.
First, if you wouldn’t.
But yeah, I think we’ve we’ve worked really hard, haven’t we, over the years now to put lots of things in place to actually streamline it and make it more effective and just a much better experience for our clients that do work with us. And it’s something that we are quite open in now, when we when we’re at the proposal stage with clients as well about how we want this to work. And I think the reason for this podcast today was to just to get you to hear it from the agency side and the pain points that we we come across some times that actually impact is on doing our jobs to the best of our ability and no one wants to no one wants that to happen. So if you if you do want to give feedback, please make sure you listen to this podcast and do so with that in mind. Thank you