March 21, 2023
Strategies for getting asynchronous feedback
As designers, we rely on feedback from our peers and stakeholders to improve and iterate on our work. However, getting feedback asynchronous whether that be through a video, slack, or online document can present its set of challenges. Here are a few strategies for getting async design feedback that have helped me over the years.
As designers, we rely on feedback from our peers and stakeholders to improve and iterate on our work.
However, getting feedback asynchronous whether that be through a video, slack, or online document can present its set of challenges. Here are a few strategies for getting async design feedback that have helped me over the years:
Always underestimate how much context is needed.
When you’re working on a project, it’s easy to assume that everyone else knows as much about it as you do. However, when you’re sharing a design for feedback, it’s important to provide as much context as possible. Make sure to explain the current state of the design, the goals of the project, and any relevant background information. This will help reviewers understand the design and provide more informed feedback.
Set your reviewers up for success.
If you’re sending a Loom video or sharing a design in an online document, make sure to provide all necessary context upfront. This might include an old screenshot to show the current state, an explanation of why you’re working on this design in the first place, and a general outline of the video or document. By doing this, you’ll help your reviewers understand the context and goals of the design, which will lead to more constructive feedback.
Encourage open and honest feedback.
When you’re seeking design feedback, it can be easy for reviewers to hold back or not speak up as much as they might in an in-person setting. Encourage open and honest feedback by setting a positive and collaborative tone, and reminding your reviewers that their thoughts and opinions are valued. By creating a safe space for feedback, you’ll be more likely to receive constructive criticism that can help improve your design.
Avoid the "big reveal."
It can be tempting to save your core takeaway or question for the end of a presentation or video, but this can actually be a mistake. By sharing your main point early on, you'll allow your reviewers to evaluate the rest of your presentation through that lens. This can help them provide more focused and constructive feedback. Use the phrase "The TLDR of this video is…" early in your presentation can help frame the rest of your content. By stating your core takeaway or question right away, you'll give your reviewers a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish with your design.
Don't be afraid to restate your main point.
At the end of your presentation or video, it can be helpful to briefly restate your main takeaway or question. This will serve as a helpful refresher for your reviewers, and will ensure that they understand the main point of your design.
Getting asynchronous design feedback can be a challenge, but with a little preparation and the right mindset, it can be a valuable tool for improving your work. By providing necessary context, setting your reviewers up for success, and encouraging open and honest feedback, you’ll be well on your way to getting the feedback you need to make your design the best it can be. Remember to share your main point early on, use the phrase "The TLDR of this video is…" to your advantage, and don't be afraid to restate your main point at the end of your presentation. By following these strategies, you can make the most of async design feedback and get the insights you need to improve your work.
It's important to set the stage for your reviewers, so they can better understand and evaluate your work.
One effective way to do this is by taking a few moments to set the scene before you start sharing your prototype. Here are a few tips for setting the scene effectively:
Help others get into the mindset of the end user.
Before you start sharing your prototype, take a moment to help your reviewers understand the context in which the design will be used. What are the needs and goals of the end user? How will they interact with the design? By providing this context, you'll give your reviewers a better sense of the user experience, which will inform their feedback.
Explain the goals of the design.
In addition to setting the scene for the end user, it's also helpful to explain the goals of your design. What are you trying to accomplish with this design? What problems are you trying to solve? By sharing your goals, you'll give your reviewers a clear understanding of the purpose behind your work.
Share any relevant background information.
If there is background information that would be helpful for your reviewers to know, don't be afraid to share it. This might include details about the project or industry, user research, or any other information that will help them understand the context of your design.
By setting the scene before you start sharing your prototype, you'll give your reviewers the context they need to provide informed and constructive feedback. With a clear understanding of the end user, the goals of the design, and any relevant background information, your reviewers will be better equipped to evaluate your work and offer valuable insights.
Call out the tradeoffs of your design decisions.
It helps you think through the second order effects of your decisions.
By considering the pros and cons of different design choices, you'll be forced to think more critically about the potential impacts of your work. This will help you identify any potential issues or unintended consequences that you may have missed otherwise.
It clarifies it for other stakeholders what you've considered.
By calling out the tradeoffs of your design decisions, you'll show other stakeholders that you've thought through the various options and have made an informed choice. This will help them understand your thought process and provide more targeted feedback.
It encourages others to think about the bigger picture.
By highlighting the pros and cons of different design choices, you'll encourage your reviewers to think more broadly about the project and its goals. This will lead to more well-rounded feedback that considers the long-term implications of your work.
Overall, calling out the tradeoffs of your design decisions can be a valuable strategy for getting async design feedback. By considering the effects of your work, clarifying it for other stakeholders what you've considered, and encouraging them to think about the bigger picture, you'll be more likely to receive valuable insights that can help improve your design.
Asking concrete questions.
Concrete questions are more impactful than general questions.
Instead of asking vague questions like "What do you think of this?" try to be specific and focus on specific aspects of your design. For example, you might ask, "What do you think about the layout of this page? Is it easy to navigate?" By asking concrete questions, you'll be more likely to get targeted and actionable feedback.
Asking concrete questions helps people think critically about their workflow.
By focusing on specific aspects of your design, you'll encourage your reviewers to think more deeply about their experience with the design. This will help them identify any issues or areas for improvement that they might have missed otherwise.
Make room for catch-all questions at the end.
While it's important to ask specific questions, it can also be helpful to leave room for more general feedback at the end of your presentation or video. This can be a good way to capture any thoughts or observations that your reviewers might have that don't fit into a specific category. One of my favourite catch-all questions is "What is missing or felt off about this prototype?"
Overall, asking concrete questions is a valuable strategy for getting async design feedback. By focusing on specific aspects of your design and leaving room for more general feedback at the end, you'll be more likely to receive targeted and actionable insights that can help improve your work.
Clearly state how you want to receive it.
Fragmented feedback can be a headache to keep up with.
If you're receiving feedback from multiple sources – such as Slack, Loom, or Figma – it can be difficult to keep track of all the comments and suggestions. By clearly stating how you would like to receive feedback, you'll make it easier for your reviewers to provide their thoughts in a centralised location.
You want people to be able to riff from each other's ideas.
When feedback is fragmented across different channels, it can be hard for reviewers to build on each other's thoughts and ideas. By receiving feedback in a single location, you'll encourage more collaboration and allow your reviewers to build on each other's insights.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution.
Different methods of receiving feedback will work better for different projects and teams. For example, you might find that Loom comments are a good fit because they are tied to timestamps and visible while someone is watching for the first time. Alternatively, you might prefer to receive feedback in a shared online document or through a specific tool like Figma. By clearly stating how you want to receive feedback, you'll make it easier for your reviewers to provide their thoughts in a way that works best for you.
Overall, clearly stating how you would like to receive feedback is an important step in getting the insights you need to improve your work. By centralising feedback and encouraging collaboration, you'll be more likely to receive targeted and actionable feedback that can help you create the best design possible.
Create a summary slide.
A summary slide can jog people's memories.
When reviewing a video or presentation, it can be easy to forget certain details or lose sight of the big picture. By including a summary slide at the end of your presentation, you'll provide a helpful reference point that can jog reviewers' memories and help them give more focused feedback.
It makes it easier to compare different options.
If you're presenting multiple prototypes or design flows, a summary slide can be a great way to help reviewers compare the different options. By providing a high-level view of each option, you'll make it easier for reviewers to understand the relative pros and cons of each design.
It helps preserve the big picture.
When reviewing a design, it's easy to get caught up in the details and lose sight of the goals and objectives. A summary slide can help keep reviewers focused on the big picture and ensure that their feedback is aligned with the project's goals.
Overall, creating a summary slide can be a valuable strategy for getting async design feedback. By jogging reviewers' memories, making it easier to compare different options, and helping preserve the big picture, a summary slide can help you get the insights you need to improve your work.
This was an in-depth look into strategies for soliciting feedback. In a largely remote world, being able to effectively solicit feedback asynchronously is essential.