Discussing Design

Link to book

Discussing Design is a book written by Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry. The purpose of this book is to understand the value in critique and how it can help to improve your designs and products. It first goes into talking about the two different sides of a critique; giver and recipient. It describes the good and the bad that could come with any given critique and what you can do to have a productive critique. As in this book, you learn how we can be productive with the feedback we receive to improve not only your designs but good critique practices.

During project 1 for my Interactive Media II class, in which my team created a transportation app called On Time Transit, my team did multiple online formal critiques. This process was in the form of Google Hangout meetings that we had almost once a week. During these meetings we would check in to see each other’s progress, clarify any confusion we may have, and answer questions we had for one another. My team’s critique of our design would first start out with the designer who designed a specific feature walking us through what they made and why they made the decisions they did. Then they would ask questions about specific aspects of their design and what the rest of the team thought could be improved or kept the same. Responses and critique overall were very respectful. When not in these formal critiques on video chat, informal critiques would happen as well. Since everyone’s feature was designed on the same shared Adobe XD file, it was easy for feedback / critique questions to be asked individually through text conversations at any time. From the book I think our team did a good job of “Asking for feedback, and when you do, be ready to listen and act on what you learn.” Everyone did a great job of communicating their ideas and asking what everyone else thought. As communication is at the core of critique. 

What could have been done to improve our critiques? I think I would have suggested more formal video chat critiques where we could get more feedback as a group about each person’s design. It was difficult to find a time when everyone was available to have video chat critiques, which is why we only had about one a week. I feel like I maybe should have suggested we do some mini critiques where it was one on one or with whoever was available so that we could have gotten more individual feedback that could have maybe helped to improve our design overall. Also from the book, I probably would have suggested giving more positive feedback during critiques as my group mostly just focused on what could be changed or improved and never really talked about what worked. 

Critique is a part of any project, especially if you are an artist or a designer. Since sixth grade I have learned the importance of critique and have participated in dozens of critiques. So I have learned to accept all forms of feedback no matter if it is difficult or not. Critique helps you to improve your work and I think the sooner you understand that, the easier it will be to listen and receive feedback. This book really enforced all the things I have learned about critiques over the years. During project 1, I did not receive any difficult feedback. I think that if I did receive any difficult feedback and I just don’t remember it is because our group did a great job of working through any difficult situations. If things became challenging we would try to steer the conversation back to the main concerns or ask questions to try and clarify concerns in a more productive way. We each took initiative to help each other create better designs. I would ask questions of what others thought I should do to help improve the layout or flow of my feature. We went through the issues and concerns that each teammate had. The result of any difficult feedback helped improve our design overall and helped everyone, even myself feel more confident about the features we had created. 

Here is a video of me going through one of our groups competitors app and trying to do a constructive critique of it.

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