Being in the dark with your work and not knowing whether it’s any good is a place no one wants to be. It diminishes productivity and demotivates you.
In design, things are no different.
That’s why setting up an effective design review process to get valuable feedback is so important. With a good design review process in place, your whole team will make faster and more informed decisions so you can deliver designs that you’re truly proud of!
In this article, we’ll look at:
- The different types of design review software
- The six steps to set up your design review process
- How design review software can help
But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is a design review?
A design review is a process of getting structured and meaningful feedback on a piece of design. It could be to review a new website design, evaluate a prototype feature, or discuss a new user flow. This is useful for all stages of the design process, from early concepts to working prototypes.
During the reviews, designers present their ideas to get feedback on how it can be improved.
Here are a few ways you can run your design review process:
- A weekly meeting to share designs and discuss ideas
- A Slack channel where you can get feedback at any time
- A short survey form to gather feedback from your customers
- A Filestage project where you can get pinpoint feedback on your designs
It’s always a good idea to include different roles in the process. This helps you get various perspectives on your design and makes the final product as unique, natural, and intuitive as possible.
What are the different types of design review?
Different teams develop their own ways of working and constantly work towards improving their workflows.
But every team reaches similar phases and milestones.
Depending on the stage and purpose of your project, design reviews usually take one of three forms:
- Stakeholder design review
- Peer design review
- Customer design review
Understanding the importance of different stages of reviews and preparing them accordingly will go a long way in setting up good collaboration and building a successful design. Let’s look at the three types of design review process in a little more detail.
Stakeholder design review
A stakeholder design review is usually necessary before publishing any design work. It allows you to collect feedback from key stakeholders in the process. Until, eventually, you can get approval.
A stakeholder design review may include:
- Art directors
- Creative directors
- Project managers
- Account managers
- Marketing managers
- Brand managers
- Product managers
- Compliance specialists
Peer design review
A peer design review is all about collecting feedback from other designers. They may not be directly involved with the project, but they can bring valuable insights from past experiences or their respective teams.
This is often totally optional, but it’s very popular in startups who need to iterate and deliver results fast. Usually, this review will take place as a weekly or fortnightly meeting, but you could also set up a Slack channel or Filestage project for peer design reviews.
A peer design review may include:
- Marketing designers
- UX designers
- Content designers
- Art directors
- Front-end developers
Customer design review
A customer design review is all about getting raw, honest feedback from your target market. You could review anything from new marketing headlines to your existing website.
A customer design review may include:
- Loyal and highly-engaged customers
- New leads who are interested in your product or service
- Churned leads who decided not to buy your product or service
- People who have never heard of your product or service
Six steps to set up your design review process
Whether you’re talking to your team, customers, or other stakeholders, the aim is to grasp as much of what they are thinking about your design as possible.
Digging deeper and getting everyone’s point of view on the subject is key.
Shahi, Product Designer at Filestage, says: “Getting to why something can be improved is an essential part of gathering feedback. It doesn’t matter if it’s something subjective from a user or based on data collected by the team. Even the smallest comments and ideas can help make the user experience better and more intuitive for everyone.”
But this can turn into a nightmare if everyone is jumping in without any structure or hierarchy.
Here are six steps you can take to set up a design review process that’s fast, organized, and fun!
1. Work out what type of design review process you’re running and why
First and foremost, you need to figure out who you’re collecting your feedback from. Like I said earlier, different teams are here to give you different types of feedback on your design.
If you want to create your best work, it’s a good idea to include peer, stakeholder, and customer reviews as part of your design process.
In some cases, you may only need feedback from your manager or other designers. But for bigger design projects, using all three is the best recipe for success.
2. Define the reviewer groups in your design review process
If you work for an agency or a larger organization, waiting for approval from different groups of reviewers is a part of your daily job. In Filestage, we created review steps to help you manage all your reviewer groups.
By organizing your approval process into review steps, you can speed up review rounds by keeping feedback focused on specific topics. This helps to avoid situations where product managers or legal specialists are getting bogged down in creative feedback.
So when setting up different review steps, try asking yourself these questions:
- Who needs to see and approve your design?
- Are there any external reviewers that need to be included? And, who are they?
- Do I want to set up a review step for collecting customer feedback?
By breaking the approval process down into review steps based on different types of design review, you can keep feedback focused on specific topics. This helps you collect everyone’s feedback and save time by preventing a messy free-for-all of feedback.
3. Give reviewers a centralized place to share feedback
Once you have all your stakeholders in mind, having them all in one place at the same time becomes quite tricky. Even if you manage to turn the design review into a live meeting, just think about how long it will take to collect everyone’s thoughts and summarize them into valuable feedback.
Talk about a waste of time!
With Filestage, you have a centralized place for your teammates, clients, and customers to add feedback right on top of your designs.
Here are a few other ways Filestage makes sharing feedback easier:
- Zoom, rotate, and drag to hone in on every detail of your designs
- Click anywhere to create a marker and add a comment
- Highlight text to give feedback on a specific word or sentence
- Strikeout text to show which parts should be deleted
- Draw annotations to make feedback clearer and more visual
- Add references and important assets as attachments to comments
4. Ask lots of questions and discuss feedback in detail
There’s no good feedback without a lot of communication from both ends.
Thinking that your design speaks for itself and not asking a lot of questions is a common mistake in design reviews.
Here are some questions you can ask your reviewers to discuss their feedback in detail:
- How does the design make you feel?
- How do you feel about the choice of colors?
- How does the copy feel to you?
- Do you think the design represents your brand values?
- Will the design resonate with your target audience?
Check out the rest of 20 example questions for your design feedback form and start collecting more valuable feedback from your reviewers.
Finally, make sure everyone agrees on any changes before uploading the next version of your work. In Filestage, you can leave comments on your reviewers’ feedback and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
5. Create and share the next version of your design
Once everyone has shared their thoughts about the design and you’ve implemented their feedback into your work, you can upload the next version in Filestage.
That’s when the magic really starts!
In the past, you had to open two windows so you could view both versions side by side. And despite your attention to detail, some feedback would still get overlooked.
But with Filestage, you can do all that and more in one platform:
- View any two versions of your design side by side
- Show and hide the comments for both versions
- Click on comments to show which part of the design they refer to
6. Repeat until you get approval (if necessary)
Sometimes it’s impossible to have your design approved in one or two steps. In Filestage you can organize your review process by designing separate review steps for each type of reviewers. On top of that, you can choose whether you want your reviewers to submit review decisions or just add their comments.
Here is how you could organize your review process for different types of reviewers:
- Create a peer review step to collect feedback and discuss ideas with your design team
- Set up a second review step to get approval from your stakeholders
- Run a final review step with customers to see if your designs resonate with them
You can then see all those review decisions from your project dashboard. So you know exactly who’s approved what and which designs are ready to be published.
Communicating your way to a great design review
Design review is not just about efficiency when gathering and discussing feedback. Since the process entails good collaboration, it’s necessary to establish good communication patterns.
Let’s face it, having your work critiqued and having to justify it to different stakeholders can feel stressful without respectful communication from both sides.
Therefore, fostering the culture of encouragement and healthy communication patterns will go a long way in giving and receiving feedback from others. In turn, your team will end up with some great designs.
What’s the difference between a design review and design critique?
As much as anyone doesn’t like to be critiqued on their work, good feedback (in the form of review or critique) will foster some great ideas and projects.
Actually, there is a very important difference between design review and a critique. While design review makes sure everyone agrees with the work and pushes it to the next stage, design critique is designed for improving the design and focuses on what could be changed to make the best possible design.
And, you need both to create that astonishing design you’re after!
Finally, design is not just about being creative and coming up with a great solution. It’s also about collecting and interpreting feedback so you can create experiences that work for everyone. If you’d like to set up your design review process with Filestage, request a free trial →