UX Critique Guide


Critique is something that can be a frightening experience, especially if not properly executed. That said, critique is something that helps us grow as professionals and produce better work. From our experience of running critique sessions at many companies for different teams we’ve discovered some common tips and tactics to ensure your critique experience is constructive, effective, professional, useful, and respectful. Before requesting any critique we suggest reading through these tips and tactics and using them in how you approach your ask. Doing this will likely yield not only more responses but also more useful information that you can apply to your work.


Framing a Critique

Before soliciting a critique write out:

  • What is the work about?
    Briefly tell us a bit about the work (client, platform, scope, etc.).

  • What are you hoping to achieve?
    Tell us about the goals (increase conversions, build trusts, improve accessibility, etc.).

  • How will you measure success?
    Tell us what metrics or criteria you’ll be using (site analytics, survey usability testing, etc.).

  • What state is the work in?
    Tell us how far along you are (just brainstorming, first sketch, final design revisions, etc.).

  • What is the scope of this critique?
    What one aspect are you looking for feedback on? (the navigation, layout, color, etc.).


Soliciting a Critique

Start with something like this:

  • What I’m trying to figure out is...

  • The design problem I’m trying to solve is...

  • What I’m struggling with is...

  • What I’d specifically like to gain from this session is...

Avoid starting with things like this:

  • Do you like it?

  • What do you think?

  • Which one do you prefer?

  • It’s finished.


Providing Critique

Start your responses with:

  • Why did you decide to...

  • Have you considered...

  • I’m wondering about...

  • I’m concerned about X (and I think it’s because Y)

  • Is X something you’ve thought about?

  • I like it because...

Avoid starting a response with:

  • That’s bad / ugly.

  • I don’t like it.

  • I like it.

  • I like it, but...

  • Here’s how I would do it...


Receiving Critique

Please do these things:

  • Listen

  • Ask clarifying questions

  • Share feelings if they are blocking your listening

  • Come back to the design goals

Please don't do these things:

  • Take it personally

  • Argue or defend

  • Design or redesign live as the responses roll in


Articles


Books

Discussing Design
Improving Communication and Collaboration through Critique

By Adam Connor & Aaron Irizarry

Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: June 2015
Pages: 45

Articulating Design Decisions
Communicate with Stakeholders, Keep Your Sanity, and Deliver the Best User Experience

By Tom Greever

Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: September 2015
Pages: 278


Credits

The material here was based on information and material sourced from the Embodied Critique method by Billie Mandel, Discussing Design by Adam Connor & Aaron Irizarry, and Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever.