August 4, 2004

Over the years, I have realised that it was going through the endless cycles of the feedback loop that has guided my design decisions and made me a better designer. I attribute the feedback loop to helping me develop and filter my ideas, helping me to externalise the design process with colleagues and clients, and with instilling the habit of communicating the rationale behind my creative decisions.

Here’s what you can do to make the most from the feedback loop when approaching your next design project:

Get the answers you need from the client.

Before approaching the design project, extract the answers you need from the client to effectively approach your project and ensure that you have a clear creative brief that outlines the goals and parameters to adhere to. This ensures that you don’t have to make unnecessary cycles of the loop in the long run.

Grow your ideas but don’t settle on one.

As you go through the feedback loop you’ll need to separate what will work from what you think will work, so having a few additional concepts up your sleeve from your initial brainstorming phase is important.

Give your ideas an incubation period before moving forward in the design process. 

You may instinctively gravitate toward your initial ideas, but you need to allow for an ‘incubation period’ where you let your ideas grow and evolve. Sometimes it’s best to sleep on an idea and take a look at it with fresh eyes to asses if you still feel the same about it.

Always present a strong rationale behind an idea.

It’s one thing to have an idea, it’s another to know why you’ve decided to move ahead with it and how you’ll develop it in to a fully fledged project. If you can’t explain the rationale behind your idea, then you need to take a step back and reassess whether you need to go back to the brainstorming phase of the loop.

Present to your colleagues and be open to collaboration. 

After developing an idea to the first stages of your project, seek feedback from your colleagues before showing it to the client.

Sometimes a bit of subjectivity provides you with the insights you need to approach the next stage of the design process with a clear perspective. Be open to honest and constructive criticism, it can be helpful to reaching the shortest route to an effective design solution.

Ensure that you align your work with the original goals of the project. 

Part of Mustard’s manifesto is “Relationships are the reward”, so we counsel our clients’ decisions, rather than just act as a vendor for them.

Although the brief is a starting point, expect to challenge it constantly and work together with the client to explore possible solutions with every loop. Respectfully challenge client feedback if you feel it’s off brief, and offer alternative solutions.

Never stop the loop.

Even though a project might technically be ‘finished’, a great designer is continually using feedback loops to continually improve their approach to future projects.

Visuals created by Mustard | a creative agency.