Written by Ben Gremillion

“What do you think?” — four words that kill a feedback session almost before it starts.

On #UXPinChat last week we discussed different ways to get other people’s opinions about feedback, while taking feedback on a prototype design that progressed live.

That got us thinking about how to get feedback in general. We know that the best constructive criticism leads to a better product. But getting feedback that really helps is an art unto itself. For example, “why do you prefer that color?” will get more insight than “do you like it?” But how?

Here are some techniques to get a critique that helps you improve your work.

1. The Three-question Rule

Dustin Curtis, founder of the Svbtle Network, developed a helpful system of asking critics three questions. The questions themselves drive conversation and elaborates more on the feedback being offered.

2. State Your Goals

Giving feedback is easier with context. When asking for a critique, always begin with quick summary of what the design is supposed to solve. Followed with, “How well does this design achieve that goal?” gives critics an angle from which to frame their thoughts, rather than commenting on the veneer.

3. Avoid Yes/No Questions

Yes. No. Boolean questions result in little substance. Although it takes some practice, getting to why and how will get answers along the lines of, “I think” or “I don’t like.” Positive or negative, such comments help you get to the heart of the critic’s thinking to understand their point of view. “Do you like it?” is nothing compared to “what do you like — or dislike — about it?”

4. Clarify the Context of the Fidelity

Getting feedback early is a vital step to dodge early problems. Unfortunately, not everyone gets that rough sketches are ideas taking shape, or that lo-fi mockups don’t mean gray is your favorite color.

Part of your job in asking for feedback is to explain what a critic is about to see. One way to underscore that they’re about to review ideas rather than the quality of your Sharpie work is to do just that: ask for their thoughts on the ideas.

“Before I go further, I want your feedback on these ideas.” “I’m exploring loose ideas at this point, and I want your opinion.” “So I had this quick idea … ”

In fact, we started with an idea: feedback is more useful when framed correctly. To that end, this article’s goal is to help you get meaningful feedback. Did it achieve that goal?