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How to interpret client feedback

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

You have worked really hard and feel proud of your work. You present it to your client and get a ton of feedback, some helpful and some confusing or off brief. How do you take this and turn around to create a successful project that both you and your client feel proud of?

Today we will look at how to ask for the right feedback in the first place, follow up with the right questions and finally translate feedback in to a constructive to-do list.

design process


  • When and how should you ask for feedback?

  • Best feedback tools

  • Listening between the lines

  • Asking the right follow up questions

  • Summarise what you learned & create a to-do list

  • Get your clients sign off

When and how should you ask for feedback?

Perhaps the most important factor in getting helpful feedback is knowing when to ask for it. By using a little bit of up-front on-boarding you can tell your client at what stages of the creative process you need their input before you start. This will also make your client feel more at ease knowing what is expected from them.

The way you ask for feedback is also important. If you ask open ended questions like "what do you think" the feedback you get will be unspecific and subjective. Instead, try to remind your client of the project goal and ask how well the work achieves this goal.

Best feedback tools

Having one centralised place to collect all feedback will save time and make your business feel more organised. Many tools allow you to pin comments to a certain area of a design, reply to feedback from your clients or team and upload examples.

Which platform you decide to use depends on the type of work you do. Some are specialised for web and apps while some are more focused around mood boards and sharing ideas. We recently did a review of the 21 tools we have used the most in our podcast if you would like tips deciding.

Listening between the lines

Resist the urge to dive back in and change your whole design, instead ask targeted questions that get at the root of the feedback.

Once you receive feedback, start by looking at it objectively. Don't think about your own opinions of your work or feel hurt if the comments are not universally cheerful. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What part of the work is the feedback relevant to?

  • Is the comment actually addressing a fear the client is not voicing?

  • If the change is implemented, will it move you closer to the project goal?

  • Are the changes within scope?

In many cases, an opinion that seems to adress the whole project might just be about the colour of the logo, the size of your images or the font you have chosen. Resist the urge to dive back in and change your whole design, instead ask targeted questions that get at the root of the feedback.

Asking the right follow up questions

Before you continue, remember that your client has a lot of expertise in their business so make sure you really take in their comments and create a collaborative environment where your client feels safe and heard.

If the feedback you get feels subjective, out of scope or like it is not addressing the goal of the project, it is time to ask a few targeted questions.

Start by letting your client understand that you have heard their feedback and you want to learn more.

Next, ask them to elaborate on their comment. Is there a certain part of the work that makes them feel more strongly?

Once you know this, start discussing how changing the work will help accomplish the project goal. I suggest always making your first slide in your presentation the project goal so it is easy to go back and discuss it together. The goal should not be a deliverable like "website design" but rather the benefit like "converting more leads".

Summarise what you learned & create a to-do list

Once your meeting is done, I suggest taking each piece of feedback and making it a to-do. You can then add it directly to your project management tool or task list. This way you never forget to implement any changes and your client will have a much better experience.

Get your clients sign off

If you use a project management tool like Trello, add in the to-do list as a meeting summary and ask your client to sign off on the changes. This is especially helpful if your client is a team with multiple people and everyone does not attend every meeting. To learn more about how to manage your creative business in Trello, have a look at our blogpost on the same topic.

Did you find this helpful or do you have a great tip we missed? Join the discussion on our Facebook group and connect with other creatives. See you there!


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