Guidelines for Critiques

We are going to have 2 chances to really critique each other’s work in this class. Today, we will informally discuss the sketches you did last week for your site ideas. Later we will have a crit of the designs you come up with for your sites.

In order to get the most out of our critiques, use these criteria:

  • Does the idea or design support the purpose of the site?
  • Is the structure and navigation clear?
  • Is the idea or design well-crafted?
  • How well does the idea or design lend itself to other pages?

If you are stumped, ask yourself some basic questions to get the conversation started:

  • What do you enjoy about the design and why?
  • What concerns you about the design and why?
  • What does this design remind you of and why?

The art of giving and receiving criticism:

As you progress in your academic and professional careers, you will learn to love those moments when someone gives you a fresh, informed and fair perspective on your designs The better you are at giving and taking criticism, the better your work will be in the end.

You may have experienced unfair or rough crits in the past, which is unfortunate and unnecessary.  We will have 2 or 3 of them this semester, so you will be getting some practice in a safe environment. Take this opportunity to really dig in and learn to love the process. It will only make your work stronger!

In giving critiques, please remember the following:

  • Make sure you understand the purpose of the site before you start critiquing
  • A critique is not a proof-read: this is about really coming to understand a design, not looking for typos.
  • Good and bad are not the same as what you like or don’t like. The critique is about the work and the person who crafted it, so be sure to separate your personal preferences from your examination of the work.
  • Talk about what it is as much as what it isn’t: tell the designer what you think s/he has accomplished as well as what may be missing. Be specific and respectful.
  • For every negative comment, try to give 2 positive ones. Alternate your feedback so you are giving a balanced mix.
  • Talk about the next moves the designer could take.

In receiving critiques, please remember the following:

  • Close your mouth and listen. After you have stated the purpose of your site and the goals you have for this critique, say nothing. No explaining mistakes, no attempts to cover what is in front of the group.
  • If something someone has said is not clear, ask questions to clarify the point.
  • If the critique wanders, remind the group of the goals.
  • Ask people to suggest changes that would address the criticism. You are here to find out how to make this design the best you can.
  • Not every good criticism can be addressed: you are here to get what is valuable and leave the rest. Be respectful to all the opinions people offer you and act on what helps in the most pertinent way.

Discussion: critique of ideas, choose project idea

Articles used to write this lesson:

How to run a design critique
Scott Berkun  |  January 2003

How to give and receive criticism
Scott Berkun  |   September 2004

The Delicate Art of (Web) Design Critique
Makiko Itoh  |  November 6, 2001

What Goes into a Well-Done Critique
Jared M. Spool   |   Sep 23, 2008