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Ready, Set, Critique!

  1. 1. Ready, Set, Critique! The Value of Critique and Integrating it into your Design Process Adam Connor - Senior Experience Designer
  2. 2. ICE BREAKING Let’s talk about…   Part 1: What is critique   Part 2: Integrating critique into your process   Part 3: How to critique and run critique sessions
  3. 3. ICE BREAKING Part 1: What is Critique?
  4. 4. Feedback is Important Feedback is the mechanism by which we understand the response, reaction or impact what we do, or a product we’ve created, has on a person, an environment, a system, etc. So why are so many people afraid of it?   People take it personally   No one wants to be wrong   wrong = failure   wrong = vulnerable
  5. 5. Why do we fear feedback?
  6. 6. What makes good feedback? Good feedback…   should identify where, and how a design is meeting it’s goals   should identify where, and how a design is not meeting it’s goals   should be delivered in a form in which the person receiving the feedback understands it and can act upon it to make improvements. This is critique!
  7. 7. What is critique? Critique is:   a “type” of feedback…   focused on describing what does and what does not work, as well as how and why.   delivered from the perspective of the audience/users and goals of the design.   a activity used to collect structured feedback…   in which participants give their feedback in the form of critique.
  8. 8. Critique vs. Criticism Criticism… Critique… finds fault examines structure looks for problems looks for what does and doesn’t work condemns what it doesn’t understand asks for clarification is abrasive is honest and objective is negative is positive even about what isn’t working is general and vague is concrete and specific
  9. 9. What is critique? Ways in which we already collect feedback   Reviews   Focus Groups   Surveys   Usability Studies * Image by smannion, from Flickr Critique does not replace any of the tools we already have.
  10. 10. The Value of Critique For Designers   Encourages Designers to “detach” themselves from their designs and examine them objectively   Provides access to new ideas that Designers may not have found alone   Provides practice in listening to and responding to feedback   Provides practice in explaining the thinking and rationale behind design decisions
  11. 11. The Value of Critique For Design and Project Teams   Helps establish a common framework for discussing designs and ideas   Creates opportunities for more team interaction, building collaboration and trust   Allows for a cross-pollination of ideas for projects
  12. 12. The Value of Critique   Learning to critique well makes us better communicators.   Critiquing well is about understanding what makes for good feedback, how to give it, and how to get it.
  13. 13. ICE BREAKING Part 2: Incorporating Critique Into Your Process
  14. 14. Be Prepared   Find a good room   space to move around   plenty of wall space for posting designs   whiteboard, projector/display   Make sure you have the right materials to communicate what you’d like critiqued (sketches, wireframes, prototypes, etc.)   Make materials available ahead of time.   Bring lots of post it notes and markers.
  15. 15. Who to Invite   Identify 3 - 6 people you want to invite   Consider attendees based on the goal of your session   Business Analysts   Product Strategists   Developers   Other Designers   Consider personality, not just roles   Don’t use the same people every time
  16. 16. Traditional Project Lifecycle Refinement Wrap-up of Details Early on in the Project Middle of Project End of Project Discovery
  17. 17. Traditional Project Lifecycle What You’ve Been Working On   Reviewing/setting high level user/business goals   User research, competitive analysis   Initial concepts, blue-sky vision Example Goals   Get feedback about a set of different concepts / approaches   Explore the designs of competing products Early on in the Project Discovery What You Might Look At   Competing products   Conceptual models/sketches/flows
  18. 18. Traditional Project Lifecycle What You’ve Been Working On   Designing detailed interactions and product behaviors   Identifying variations in flows   Solving for technical and business constraints Example Goals   Compare how different components of a system are designed   Discuss potential usability issues   Get cross-functional team feedback Middle of Project Refinement What You Might Look At   Screen-flow diagrams, wireframes, low-fidelity prototypes
  19. 19. Traditional Project Lifecycle What You’ve Been Working On   Finalizing detailed design   Solidify answers or solutions to issues   Solving for technical and business constraints Example Goals   Analyze design details and the product’s full impact (beta)   Discuss usability issues   Get cross-functional team feedback End of Project Wrap-up of Details What You Might Look At   Hi-fidelity prototypes   Beta/Pilot systems
  20. 20. Critique in Agile Week 1 Week 2 Iteration N Sketch Plan For Critique Recruit for Usability Hold Critique Make Updates Conduct Usability Create New Stories Review Stories Involve your team from the beginning   Invite developers, customers and maybe even the product owner Complete at least one critique per iteration   Depending on the goal, you can have it either in the middle or end of the iteration   Account for critique session during estimation   Attach to specific stories as necessary
  21. 21. The Design Studio Approach   Rapid design activity   Cross-functional team   All participants design solutions individually for a set period of time   Collectively the group critiques the individual designs   Individuals iterate on their design based on what they learned from the critiques   Individuals collect to form larger groups merging ideas over successive iterations
  22. 22. ICE BREAKING Part 3: How to Critique and Run Critique Sessions
  23. 23. Critique is a Skill   You will only get better with practice   Start small   Internal only   Think before you speak   Choose clients you critique with carefully
  24. 24. Ground Rules   Everyone is equal   Everyone is a critic   It will be up to the designer to decide which feedback to act upon and which not to   Design decisions are not to be made during critiques Always make sure to review these (and any other) ground rules with clients to gauge how comfortable they are with them before planning a critique. Also, post the ground rules in the room where the critique will be held.
  25. 25. The Opening   Clearly describe the goals of the product but not how it’s intended to achieve them   Present the product quickly   Be careful when talking about constraints
  26. 26. Techniques and Tools for Good Critique   Active Listening / Question for Clarity   Moderators   Quotas   Round-Robin   Direct Inquiry   Feedback Frameworks   Six Thinking Hats   Expertise Specific Feedback
  27. 27. Things to Avoid   Poor body language   Preference based feedback   Unqualified feedback   Being overly defensive   Problem solving
  28. 28. Follow Up   Document the observations and open questions that came out of the critique and post/share them   Follow up with individuals to for more feedback or to go explore a proposed idea   Communicate next steps: what activities will occur prior to the next critique
  29. 29. Dealing with Difficult Individuals   Set expectations at the beginning of the sessions   Make sure everyone understands what critique is   Ask quiet people for feedback directly.   Use “Laddering” to provoke explanations.   Use personas and documented goals to help ensure everyone stays focused   Request specific feedback from people with regard to their areas of expertise (development, marketing, etc)
  30. 30. In Summary   Learning to critique well improves our ability to communicate with our teams, clients and others.   The ability to critique well will only improve with practice.   Critique focuses on what works, what doesn’t and why, and is delivered from the perspective of a well-defined audience and goals.   Critique can be done both internally and with clients.   Critique is best done with 3-6 people in 30 minutes to 1 hour.   Be sure to clearly communicate the goals of a critique session as well as ground rules to all participants.
  31. 31. Thank You Documentation   Slides can be found at: Adam Connor Senior Experience Designer Twitter @adamconnor More Thoughts on Critique   Scott Berkun – How to Run a Design Critique   Viget Labs – Taming the Elephant: Design Critique with Non-Designers   Digital Web Magazine – The Delicate Art of (Web) Design Critique   Jared Spool - What Goes Into a Well-Done Critique