UIE Tips: What Goes into a Well-Done Critique?

Jared Spool

April 24th, 2012

Probably more used than any other tool in the toolbox, the critique is the lost orphan of the user experience world. There are books written about usability testing, endless debates on the validity of heuristic evaluations, and hours of lectures on persona development. But, when it comes to developing the essential skills for a good critique, the UX world falls silent.

Yet how often do we hear, “Could you give me some feedback on this design I’ve been working on?” It’s likely to be the most requested activity, but we do little to get better at it. Good critique skills are to be revered, but many of us haven’t learned what it takes, putting our projects at risk and driving walls between team members.

Recently, I’ve been discussing critique skills with some clients and it reminded me of an article we published back in September 2008, What Goes into a Well-Done Critique. It’s an important topic that doesn’t get a lot of attention. So I thought it was worth a second look. After studying the practices of design teams, we noticed that there are specific elements always present in a well-performed critique. Today’s article describes what we’ve seen in our travels.

And, as it turns out, this Thursday’s UIE Virtual Seminar given by Adam Connor is Discussing Design: The Art of Critique. Adam will describe how to give, receive, and act upon feedback while confidently guiding your projects through beneficial feedback loops. Learn more about Adam’s seminar here.

Read the article: What Goes into a Well-Done Critique?

What elements do you think make a great critique? How has your team incorporated them into regular practice? We’d love to hear your stories and thoughts. Leave us your thoughts below

One Response to “UIE Tips: What Goes into a Well-Done Critique?”

  1. Michele Ide-Smith Says:

    The things that have worked really well for me in design critiques are:
    – having a set of ‘rules’ on the wall, encouraging any feedback and explaining how the session will work
    – inviting the whole project team and colleagues in other teams if possible (including developers, testers, project managers, product managers, technical authors and other user experience practitioners)
    – running through the designs with everyone when they arrive
    – standing back and listening in to what people have to say about the designs, rather than defending design decisions
    – asking people to put comments and ideas on sticky notes on the relevant designs – we then review the comments and suggestions together and discuss them (at this point I try to remain in a facilitator role, but explain reasons behind the designs without being defensive)
    – offering chocolates or biscuits to encourage team members to come along!

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