Giving product design feedback

How to identify what feedback to give, then give the best you can.

David Portelli


With an array of customer and business needs, technological complexities, and the ice constantly shifting beneath our feet, it’s unlikely that any product designer can hit a home run alone each and every time.

Feedback is a quick and effective way to let ideas fail fast to make way for improvements.

Feedback is based on the premise that other peoples’ point of view may help expose flaws or make valuable contributions. It helps people get out of tunnel vision and see things more objectively; the way others see them.

Perhaps the greatest danger of not giving or receiving feedback is that many avoidable issues will raft their way to the customer. Or perhaps that many opportunities within grasp may be missed unknowingly.

There are dangers associated with giving or actioning poor feedback too. Poor feedback may stir someone towards solving a problem that doesn’t exist. It may be prescriptive and cut fruitful thought short. Or maybe, it could be passed on in such a way that it causes tension and conflict between colleagues.

This article is a humble stab at how to identify what type of feedback is required, together with some helpful, template questions. Moreover, this piece discusses what to avoid and what to do more of when giving and receiving feedback.

How ‘not’ to ask for feedback

  • What do you think?
  • What would you change?
  • Do you like it?
  • Do you think this will work?

When feedback is sought in this manner, there are two paths of thought you (as the person giving feedback) may instinctively follow. If the question is too broad, it might prompt you to think broadly and give a response that is ambiguous and irrelevant. If the question is leading, it might shoe horn you into saying what the recipient was hoping for; therefore no real feedback would’ve been given.

Before giving feedback, it’s worth asking what the project is about, understanding it’s significance and what phase it’s…