How to Get Constructive Feedback from Your Clients
When you work with clients, chances are you’ve come across a situation where you needed to get their feedback on your work. And as a creative myself, I always encourage my clients to provide feedback on numerous occasions over the course of a single project.
And let me tell you… I really don’t like feedback time.
Correction– I really didn’t like feedback time until recently.
Over the years, I’ve heard all types of feedback: the good, the bad and the ugly. And as a “sensitive people-pleaser with a perfectionist attitude” [self-diagnosed, of course] – feedback time sucked.
You see, when you put your heart and soul into a project and deliver something quite subjective (like art/design), getting criticism isn’t always easy. Especially when it sounds like:
“Mmmh, it’s ok but not great. I don’t know what it is though… Let’s work on it some more!”
Ugh, can you relate?
But then, things started to change when I started to look at it from a different perspective – not from the receiving end, but from the giving end.
Cause guess what? After having some honest conversations with my past clients, I found out that providing feedback is even harder than receiving it!
So in this blog post, I’m gonna share with you some tips on how to help your clients give you constructive feedback – so that it’s not taken personally, and will actually help the future development of your project!
One time, I had a potential client that asked me to share some ideas of my vision for their brand during a consultation call. Now, because this was one of my first clients ever, I was desperate to work with them so I started brainstorming and getting all my creative juices out.
The lead began sharing their feedback with me and saying things like “Nah, don’t think this is the right direction” and “Yeah, I guess I need to see it to see if I’ll like it”.
Long story short, we didn’t end up working together – but the lesson here is that you need to be very clear with your clients on when, where, and how to share their feedback with you.
In my case, I encourage my clients to share their feedback after they have reviewed my Brand Concepts Presentation, and ask them to write all feedback at once – rather than sending me little bits and pieces. Only once they’re done with it, I’ll sit down and review their notes.
Once we’ve finalised the designs, I also send my clients a quick form via Dubsado* to agree that no further changes will be required. This makes it CLEAR that the designs are final, and any additional changes will be for an extra charge.
Don’t be afraid of setting your own rules. The clearer you set expectations with your clients, the easier it’ll be to manage their feedback and ensure the project progresses smoothly.
Clients get personal with their projects. At the end of the day, they created this amazing idea/product/service and they want it to be successful. But what they often forget is that their Ideal Client is actually the most important person in the equation.
I always remind my clients to never lose sight of their target audience, and instead of saying what they personally like or dislike, to look at the design from their audience’s perspective. It’s probably one of the hardest exercises for clients because of their personal attachment to their business.
To help them with that, share some prompts to nudge them in the right direction, and phrase your questions around their Ideal Client. For example:
See the difference?
When you ask questions with their Ideal Client in mind, you’re able to lead the feedback process for your client in a way that’s actionable and constructive for you to work with. It’s a win-win! 🙂
“Can you make it pop more?”
“It’s not really working for me…”
“I don’t like the red.”
This type of feedback is every designer’s nightmare. We literally lay in bed at night – sweating and crying I might add – trying to figure out how the heck to make the design “pop” more.
In all seriousness, I’ve heard a lot of this type of feedback and every time I asked myself “But whyyyyyyyy?” – until I realised why I wasn’t able to process this form of criticism: it doesn’t tell me how to fix it.
You see, feedback needs to be actionable. It needs to tell us how we missed the mark and how can we make it better. Ambiguous feedback like the examples above just throw us off base as we try to figure out what our client meant.
I like to remind my clients of this and prompt them to write down their feedback like you would do if you were asked to write down a recipe for someone. You would write something clear, actionable, and straight to the point, right?
Here’s some examples of how the same comments from above could be transformed into constructive feedback:
Instead of “Can you make it pop more?”,
Try “I think the funky personality of the brand doesn’t currently translate well into the design. Can we emphasize the logo and add more character to it? Perhaps with a thicker choice of font? Right now the logo seems to be too simple.”
Instead of “It’s not really working for me…”,
Try “I went back to the brief and I think we need to add more X and Y to appeal more to our target audience. I think this is a great start though!”
Instead of “I don’t like the red.”,
Try “I don’t think the red will appeal to our target audience. Could we try another warm colour, which would be less aggressive/strong? Perhaps an orange tone?”
Much more specific right? This is the extent of detail you should encourage your clients to have when they give you constructive feedback on to your project. From here, you’ll be able to make much more effective changes for your next design submission and move the project forward.
Just a little cherry-on-top for ya! As I’ve mentioned a couple of times in this blog post, you need to be very clear with your client on what type of feedback you’re expecting – because this may actually be harder for them than you think!
Providing feedback on a design can feel daunting, so make sure to educate your client as much as possible and guide them throughout the process.
In my case, I educate my clients on several occasions:
Besides being clear in your emails/communication, you could also create a blog post to direct your clients to, or a guide to send them along with your designs.
Not only does it show an extra touch of professionalism from your side, but it also helps to progress the project further and keep design revisions to a minimum!
Aaaaand there we have it, friend!
Honestly, by taking a lead in this feedback process, this will help both you and your client on how to communicate your ideas more effectively for how to move forward in your project.
If you’re a fellow creative, I truly hope that this helps you out in your own business! And if you found this post super helpful, I’d loveeeeeee it if you could help spread this post to fellow creatives just like us to help them out with this too!
And now, over to you! Do you have any feedback horror stories you want to share? Or maybe you’ve come up with your own methods to help your clients give you constructive feedback on your work?
If you do, I’d love for you to send me a DM on Instagram @One6Creative and let me know! (Or if you just wanna say hi, that’s cool too!) Either way, I’d love to hear from you 🙂
P.s: Please note that any recommendations a * do contain an affiliate link. All this means is that if you decide to check out the tools and software I personally use and recommend – at NO extra cost to you of course! – I get a little bonus on the side 🙂