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A critical component to any website project, be it as small as restructuring or a complete redesign and/or rebuild, is client feedback. While we designers and developers will be doing the heavy lifting throughout the project – that’s what we are hired for after all – sometimes the client side of things gets forgotten among the excitement of the project. But a website project cannot be completed without good client feedback. The key word there is “good”.

Quote over image: If something isn't working, give me the details on it, and we'll make it right.

When I say “good feedback”, I don’t refer to just good news or positive feedback. While positive feedback is always welcome, it doesn’t always help the project move forward. Critical feedback that results in tweaks and changes and actually making the end product better is what’s more important. But how do you know if you’re giving “good” feedback? Here are a few tips.

Be honest. If you don’t like something, speak up. It’s important to know as soon as possible rather than close to or after launch. That just makes for an awkward relationship.

Be specific. Point out what exactly isn’t working for you and why. Go into as much detail as you feel is necessary as to why you feel something is not working. More than anything, your reasoning is critical to solving the problem. Just saying, “it doesn’t work” or “I don’t like it” isn’t enough information to find a solution.

Communicate problems, not solutions. It can be tempting to propose solutions or create your own mockups to show what you want. While that can be helpful at times, it often isn’t. Or at least it isn’t if that’s the definitive solution you’re after, in which case, you’ve gone from paying a web professional for their expertise in problem solving to paying them to just do what you ask. Those are not the same. So instead of trying to come up with the solution yourself, discuss the problem or issue with your web developer. By describing the problem to them, your web developer can explore multiple solutions that may work better.

Remember your audience. When you’re reviewing your project, remember to review everything through the eyes of your target audience, not what you think is best or is your personal preference. Catering to your target audience is what turns perusing into contacting or buying.

It's okay to disagree. If you feel that your web designer is wrong about certain decisions they’ve made, let them know. Part of the process is working together to create solutions for your customers. A good designer or developer will be able to see things from your perspective and see where you may be right or where further discussion needs to happen.

Ask why. Good designers and developers will explain their reasoning behind features and decisions. But if it’s not clear, just ask. It’s better to ask questions and discuss than to be left wondering.

Keep goals in mind. When you’re providing feedback, don’t forget about your goals, audience, and priorities for the project. Those things are the backbone and impetus for the project in the first place. Straying from them usually means a change in scope. There’s nothing wrong with that, but just be aware that the project may change altogether as a result.

In the end, giving good, effective feedback boils down to good communication. My golden rule for effective feedback goes like this: If something isn’t working, give me the details on it, and we’ll make it right. 😉