Once you have your initial design work completed it is then time to have some else review your work. There are a lot of positive reasons for doing this. It is likely that you have spent 5, 10 or even 20 hours working on your design. You’ve focused in on the nuances and what happens is you start to see each of the small pieces in the design and lose the objectivity to see the design as a whole. An outside pair of eyes can look at your design for the first time and be objective about both its strengths and weaknesses.
You may bet a lot of feedback depending on how many people review your work, but the final decisions are still up to you. You will be reviewing feedback and deciding if you agree or disagree with the comments of others and whether you feel you should make any suggested adjustments.
A peer review is an opportunity to approach someone else’s work with a discerning eye. Peer critique is never an opportunity to be critical for the sake of being critical. When you offer opinions you should be able to give reasoning why you think an element doesn’t work. Simply saying “I don’t like it” is neither productive or constructive. The point of critiquing someone else’s work is to help them in producing the best work possible.
Throughout the remainder of this course you will be participating each week in a peer critique. Each week there will be some guided questions to help you begin assessing one another’s work.
The best way to start a critique is to first consider the elements of the design that excel. What about the design works well? Was there are clear hierarchy and you understood the messaging from most important to least important? Is there a graphic that really illustrates the message? Again, saying that you “like” something may be nice, but it isn’t constructive unless you can explain why you like it.
Once you have explained what works in the design being to consider what could be improved? Sometimes you may have an idea to offer for a possible solution and sometimes you may not know what would help either. For example, you might say that the color of the text makes it difficult to read. You might suggest that they change the color to black, or you might not know what color would work better, but just suggest that they try some other options.
EXAMPLE CRITIQUE: Logo Design
The second coffee bean logo is more abstract and has a really artistic look that supports the company’s mission of providing space for artists. The green option stands out the most with the abstract logo and the bold color. The stroke also looks the best with this color. The purple logo with the orange stroke has really harsh contrast that are jarring to look at. You might change the color of the stroke or remove the stroke altogether. In terms of the logo arrangement, the stacking of Gallery above the logo and Espresso below the logo doesn’t work well. There is too much space between the two words and they don’t read as a singular name. The other options with the name together are much stronger and unified. Similarly, the separation of the city from the name creates the same issue. The options where you have all of the information collected together is much stronger. In the horizontal logo the spacing between the lines of text doesn’t feel balanced. You might decrease the spacing between gallery and espresso and increase the spacing between the line and savannah ga.
This short critique offers both strengths and areas for improvement. Also, each point of critique, both positive and negative, explains why the comment is being made. The critiquer could have said “the second logo is better”. While that is positive feedback, it doesn’t explain why it is better. That explanation is important both for the person receiving feedback to understand and also for the person giving feedback to develop their own skills understanding what makes design successful.
To break this down into a formula, each area of critique should include:
- description of what is being examined (color use, alignment, hierarchy, etc.)
- explanation of why that element is or isn’t used well
- feedback on how it could be improved (if it needs improvement)