Criticize me! (for Designers)

Picture this: You spend hours and hours on a comp for a client, be it in advertising, identity, or web design. When you finally present your work to the client, you get something like I don’t like it. Can you show me something else?

Are you familiar with this scenario? Well, so am I. And so is every designer or art director I know. No matter how much effort we put into a design, there is almost always gonna be somebody who will tear it apart. The question is: if we like it, why don’t they like it as well?

To understand why that is, and what we can do about it, let us take a look at this situation for a second.

Two different points

there is you, the designer. This design is your product. You created it from scratch – starting with a white sheet or screen, over the exploration of different avenues, to a rough mock-up, to a pre-final version, to the result – the finished design.

Then, there is the outsider. Typically the client (yes, in this case, she is an outsider!) or a friend or family member you ask for their opinion. They do not know anything about the whole design process, nor do they know how much time you spent on creating it. They were not involved in the creative process.

Evidently, these two positions are extremely polarized. You (the designer) have been involved in the process from scratch and naturally, have a more personal connection to the product than anybody else. Especially when you ask an outsider for their opinion, the large pile of work connected to a design is virtually non-existent for them! For us, on the other hand, our time spent with the design adds intangible value – which, in most cases, interferes with our objectivity.

Value is in the eye of the beholder. Just like beauty

Now that is rather obvious, however not unusual at all.

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