How to Ask for Web Design Feedback

Posted on May 14, 2020
Last updated on Jul 4, 2020
4 minute read

When unveiling our creative ideas to a client, many of us make the mistake of sending a mockup of our website designs over email. Or we might send a link to a staging website.

Then, we tentatively ask… “what do you think..?” 😬

This is not the right way to ask for web design feedback.

I’ve been involved in literally hundreds of web design projects over the years and have noticed a pattern: if you ask open-ended questions, you’ll get vague, mostly useless answers.

And sometimes, these answers can turn into requests, that turn into demands. And before you know it, the whole project has gone off-track and you’re working for less than minimum wage!

Hardly the freelance lifestyle we all dream of, is it?

In this article I’m going to teach you how to ask for client feedback in a way that will be constructive and help keep your projects moving forward. I’m going to teach you how to collect and integrate that client feedback using a website feedback form, and ensure you deliver a great end product on time and in budget.

Rule number 1: present your ideas in person

It is vital that when presenting your website design to a client you do this in person (or over video call).

This way, you’re in the driving seat. As designers, we should explain the rationale behind our design decisions, and by walking our clients through our work, this provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.

I will say things like “…we’ve opted for a three column card layout here because there is a lot of content and this layout makes the best use of that space. And you’ll notice a slight drop shadow as I hover over the cards, which implies interactivity…”

In those two short sentences I have described the design feature (three column layout), explained my design choices (makes good use of space) and then created a sense of excitement about the interactivity (drop shadow when hovered).

As a designer, it’s important to recognise that you are also a salesperson. Most designs — even the best — rarely sell themselves. Selling involves building trust and exciting your client.

By presenting your design concepts in person, you stand a far greater chance of winning your client over than if you simply send them a web link and ask “what d’you think?”

During this show and tell process, you will likely be faced with questions, or perhaps even challenged over your design choices. But it’s important to remember that this is not the time for feedback. Keep your client on track by confidently asking them to reserve their judgements for later, and let you continue talking them through your work.

Rule number 2: asking for feedback

Only after you have followed rule number 1 should you be asking for client feedback.

Failure to confidently walk your client through your website design will undoubtedly result in an absolute torrent of unsolicited feedback 🌊🌊😭

And that doesn’t help anyone, because unmanaged design feedback is unstructured and delivered in a knee-jerk way. Here’s how to ask for web design feedback in a better way.

Send your client a website feedback form

When asking clients for web design feedback it is vital that you have a process. In some cases, your client will show the website to other stakeholders, all of whom will want to have their say.

As you can imagine: this quickly gets out of hand.

But insisting that your client completes a website feedback form is a great way to handle and manage their feedback.

The form should collect information about who is completing the form, such as their name, contact details, role or department within the company. It should also provide any necessary information that the user needs to give their feedback, such as a website URL and a short introduction. It’s helpful as well, to state what should not be fed back on, such as the presence of placeholder Lorem Ipsum text (that still catches lots of designers out, myself included!)

Finally, in order to give meaningful feedback, the form should prompt the client to explain their thinking. When asking for client feedback, try to discourage vague and personal preference responses such as “I don’t like the red bit”, which is helpful to precisely nobody.

Website feedback form questions coming soon.

Never, ever invite feedback over email

Email gets a lot of flack. As a tool for sending messages, it remains unbeaten. But as a method for collecting detailed web design feedback, it sucks.

One time I made the mistake of asking for feedback over email and, despite explicitly asking for a single email the client sent about 7 stream-of-consciousness messages to me in under 5 minutes. Make. It. Stop.

Don’t ask for feedback over email. Always have a system in place to deal with it, whether that is a website feedback form, shared Trello board or some other piece of project management software.

Better feedback makes for a better product

If you take a backseat and allow your client to start making all kinds of comments on your unfinished work, whenever they choose, the project will get out of hand. And projects that begin to spiral out of control in this way often end up a real mess.

By controlling the feedback conversation and insisting on following a process, you’ll be able to deal with feedback in a much less stressful and more manageable way. In turn, your clients will be happier, you’ll be happier and the work you produce together will be better.