Evaluating and Criticizing Product Design

Alex Borisenko
5 min readNov 25, 2022

If you’re a product manager, then you know that critiques are an inevitable part of the job. They can be challenging but also rewarding when done correctly. Product design is a collaborative process, and it’s essential for product managers, clients, and other stakeholders to give constructive feedback. Properly critiquing product design not only helps refine the final product but also strengthens relationships between all involved parties. If you’re looking for ways to effectively provide feedback on product design, then this list of 5 Do’s and 5 Don’t is for you. Let’s get into it.

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Do these if you want to build and maintain an optimal collaboration with product designers.

Be Specific and Clear

When giving feedback on product design, be sure to be as precise as possible in your comments. It’s best to use specific language that clearly states what needs improvement or what can be done differently. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands exactly what needs to change. Avoid using vague language that doesn’t offer any actionable advice; instead, focus on describing the exact changes needed in the most efficient way possible.

Suggest a Solution and Bring Ideas To The Table

When offering critiques of a product design, it’s helpful if you also suggest potential solutions or ideas that could help improve the overall outcome of the project. Offering up suggestions shows initiative and can provide valuable insights into how others view the project from their own perspectives. By bringing your own ideas into the conversation, you can help create a more collaborative working environment where everyone works together towards achieving a common goal of creating an exceptional end result for the customer.

Be Respectful and Don’t Make It Personal

It’s important to remember that even though critiquing product design is a necessary part of the process, it should still be done with respect toward all involved parties. That means avoiding personal attacks or judgemental language when offering criticism. Stick to discussing the actual product itself rather than making comments about anyone’s performance or abilities. Remember that everyone involved wants the product to succeed — so keep this in mind when providing feedback in order to maintain good relationships between all stakeholders.

Refer To User Data And Analytics

As a product manager you know better than anyone that when evaluating changes needed for a particular product design, it’s important to refer back to user data and analytics as much as possible. Knowing the users well is (or at least it should be) one of your superpowers, so use it! It is extremely helpful for everyone to be presented with a wider context as it helps to make sure that any proposed changes are based on facts rather than assumptions about user behavior or preferences. User data can offer valuable insights into how people are actually interacting with the current version of your product so that you can determine if there are areas where improvements need to be made in order for customers to have better experiences with your products or services in general.

Link Feedback To Goals

Finally, when providing feedback on a particular project’s design, make sure you link any critiques back to the overall goals and objectives of both stakeholders and customers alike — this ensures that any changes made stay relevant towards reaching those goals which ultimately leads towards success for everyone involved with developing said products/services.

Let’s now get to the common mistakes that you should avoid making:

Don’t Forget About Your Biases

When giving feedback, it’s important to try not to bring your own preferences into the picture. Instead, focus on what works best for the product from a user experience perspective as well as any other factors that may impact its success. Remember to keep an open mind and don’t be too quick to judge or dismiss ideas without really considering them first.

Don’t Focus On The Presenter, Focus On The Work

It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment when critiquing a design, but it’s important to remember that the discussion should stay focused on the work itself rather than attacking the designer personally. This doesn’t mean that you should refrain from providing negative feedback; it simply means that you should be respectful while doing so and make sure that any criticism is directed at the design itself rather than at the designer who created it.

Don’t Come Unprepared

It’s always a good idea to go over your requirements before starting a discussion about design critiques. Think about what kind of feedback would be most helpful for both short-term goals as well as any long-term objectives you might have in mind for this particular project. This will help guide the conversation so everyone involved can stay focused on the task at hand rather than getting lost in tangents or side conversations.

Don’t Get Distracted

Although it’s important to remain open-minded during critiques, try not to get distracted by bright ideas or creative solutions that don’t necessarily fit into the scope of what you’re trying to achieve with this particular project. It’s easy to get carried away with possibilities, but staying focused on what matters most will help ensure that everyone involved can stay productive and on task throughout the process.

Don’t End On A Bad Note

Last but not least, make sure you end each critique session on a positive note! Show your appreciation for everyone’s hard work and contributions throughout the process, no matter how big or small they may be. This will help foster an environment of collaboration and respect which is essential for any successful product team.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to provide useful feedback on any kind of project design. Remember — be specific and clear when giving critiques; remain respectful at all times; come up with solutions whenever possible; refer back to user data/analytics, and link everything back towards overall objectives & goals set by stakeholders & customers alike. Following these guidelines will help ensure successful collaborations between all team members which ultimately leads to creating superior products & services for customers around the world.

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Alex Borisenko

Creating tools to improve readers’ efficiency and student productivity. Writing about reading, technology, and product management.