By: Craig Harshman

A design critique is an important step in the process of developing a strong end product. A successful critique usually involves a small group tasked with the goal of sharing both positive and negative feedback about the proposed solution. This helps to provide the designer with useful information that can be incorporated into the next phase of the project. There are a handful of steps a design critique should go through to improve its effectiveness.

Overview

This part of the process may happen naturally as the critique begins. Look to get everybody’s initial reaction as they give their first impressions. Then focus on checking content; make sure everything is in the design that should be and it is within the parameters of the project. Aesthetic is another part of the overview as participants tell you how the work makes them feel and discuss the emotion or tone of it. Lastly, the style will be looked at and judged to determine whether it fits the goals of the design.

Analysis

Here, you want to concentrate on the structure of the designed piece. Things like the layout, hierarchy, and flow need to be considered, ensuring everything is placed correctly and with a purpose in mind. Other components to be analyzed at this point of the critique include the typography and color – be sure to ask how they are used and if they portray the right tone and message.

Interpretation

The overall message is the key during this step in the critique process. Does the message come across clearly? Are you hitting the target audience? Can and how will the audience respond? These are the key questions that should be asked at this time. You are looking for things that aren’t working as intended and suggestions on an approach that will work better.

Evaluation

To finish up the critique, focus on the work and its goals. Ask yourself: Does the work fulfill the assignment? Is it visually appealing? Make sure to find out what needs more attention in the piece and why. Knowing why something doesn’t work will ultimately lead you to the solution.

If you can get through these four steps in a critique you will be set up to succeed.

What other suggestions do you have for a successful critique?