How to conduct & participate in a design review

Back in June, I attended the UX Scotland conference, one of my favourite sessions of the day was about design reviews and how to effectively conduct and participate in one.  I enjoyed the session, hosted by Everett Mckay, because he got you to think about the review process not only from the designers perspective but from the point of view of the people participating. Often these people are not designers or creatives and often this is the reason for design reviews becoming a difficult process.

Here is my condensed list of his tips:


As a designer, to conduct an effective design review, please consider the following:


1. Set clear design review goals and rules

Effective design reviews always have a clear goal. The goal of most design reviews is to make the design better, this means the main focus should be on problems and improvements.




2. Set a clear design review process and schedule

Determine the best design review process to achieve your goals, and clearly explain it to your team at the start of the review. Set a schedule to use your limited time effectively.
Hint: Showing a design and asking “What do you think? Do you love it?” isn’t a good design review process.


3. Make it user centered

The most effective design reviews are user centered. They are all about the user and making their experience as good as possible. Don’t focus on what you or your team like.


4. Make wireframes the first thing people see

Wireframes are always a great place to get the first round of feedback. It will focus and highlight the high-level issues instead of details.



As participants of a design review you should consider the following:


1. Please participate!

We set up this design review to get your feedback, so if you have good feedback, please share it!


2. Respect the design review goals and rules

Design review goals change as the design progresses. Early on, we want high-level feedback on the effectiveness of the design and probably don’t care about the details yet. Later on, these goals flip and we very much care about the details. Part of your job as a participant is to respect the stage that we’re at.


3. Avoid personal opinion

While we want your opinion, our goal is to create the best experience for our target users. Consequently, try to present your feedback in terms that matter to our target users. For example, asking “Will target users understand this term?” is better than “I don’t understand this term” if you aren’t the target. Consider phrasing your feedback in terms of our user research, personas or scenarios.



4. Give specific, actionable feedback

Strive to present feedback that the designer can actually do something with. Give specific feedback like “I’m not sure what the user is supposed to do on this page” or “This label is confusing”.


5. Give positive feedback too

While the designer wants to find ways to improve the design, we also want to know what is working well. Have as much enthusiasm for the good as you would for the bad.


6. Start with questions

Make sure you understand the design first. Effective design reviews often start with the team asking questions, then giving feedback.


7. No designing

The designer wants to determine problems with the design and get ideas on how to make it better. We will record the issues you help us find, but figure out how to resolve them later.



8. Make it a positive experience

The results of an effective design review is to have a great list of potential design problems, feel good about the work we have accomplished, and be inspired to make it even better. A design review should be a positive experience for everyone.

Now fly my pretties, have effective design reviews left right and centre!

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