Phrasing feedback requests to get honest, constructive critiques on your creative work
Regardless of who you ask for feedback, how you ask for feedback matters. Most of us are naturally biased toward our own work (we made it after all, so how could it be less than perfect?). So, if we're not careful when we ask for feedback, we can fall into the trap of asking leading questions. This creates a positive feedback loop of people telling you what you want to hear, further ingraining your initial perspective on your work and making it harder to accept an honest and unbiased creative critique.
Here are three quick tips on how to phrase your feedback requests for the best quality feedback:
1. Keep it casual
People are most natural and honest in their normal routines. You can create pressure by explaining how critical their feedback is to your success or setting a meeting to review your work when you could see them outside of a scheduled event (unless scheduled events are normal to have social time with your one friend who color codes every minute of their day).
Granted, this pressure may make the person who you ask for feedback more focused and intent on analyzing the task at hand. However, most people who see your finished product won't be looking at your work so intently (unless you are designing work for an art gallery); they will be casually glancing it at it as they scroll, browse, peruse, or swipe.
To get feedback that will resonate with your audience, ask people in the same mindset that your intended audience will be in when they view your work.
Keeping a few photos of your current work on your phone to pull out at a lull in conversation is not only a great way to continue the conversation, but it can also help give you great insight on how others view your work.
2. Don't make it personal
When you attach yourself to an idea by saying "I really like this idea, what do you think?" or "I've worked really hard on this concept so far and am really proud of it, can I get your thoughts?" you are making it difficult for someone to critique the idea without critiquing you along with it.
Even including yourself at all makes people less likely to provide honest feedback. It's easier to be encouraging than honest about the person you're speaking with face to face. The work of an ambiguous third party, on the other hand, can be more objectively reviewed because it removes the emotional risk of managing the feelings, conversation, and relationship following the feedback.
To be clear, we're not recommending crediting someone else for your work when you're seeking feedback. However:
You can keep authorship anonymous, or pitch your concept as one of multiple ideas.
You can say something like "I was thinking of a few different ideas for this project and took a quick pic of one of the concepts, how do you think it can it be better?"
When the person giving you feedback knows that there are multiple ideas being considered, it's easier to steer you away from one idea to another than to feel like they're crushing your idea all together.
To learn more on this concept - our founder gave a great TEDx Talk on it HERE.
3. Understand the why behind the why
All feedback is helpful, but some feedback may be more representative of public opinion than others.
If you ask someone to give you feedback on a color scheme for a company brand, and they tell you they don't like it, don't argue with it, just ask why. It may take a few times asking why to get to the heart of the reason, but after digging deeper you may find out that they don't like your color scheme because it reminds them of an ugly Christmas sweater their mom made them wear growing up. You can probably take that feedback with a grain of salt - and plus, now you can ask for pictures of the sweater.
However, if your color scheme reminds the person giving you feedback of a well-known brand that you don't want to be associated with, other people will likely feel the same way, making the feedback more relevant as you iterate on your work.
Opinions are often the result of association. Look for trends in what brands or concepts people associate with you.
You have a wonderful and unique perspective on the world, which influences your perspective on your work. And so does everyone else. Asking for feedback helps you understand how your work is perceived by others, so you can create better work not only for yourself, but for the rest of us as well.
Our Creative Critique platform will connect creatives across the world to provide each other with quality feedback on their work in progress, and we would love for you to be part of the community. Follow us on social media to keep up with the latest developments.
Keep creating, iterating, and making the world a more beautiful place.
The Creative Critique Team