Good vs. Bad Feedback: How to Make Sure Your Project Keeps Moving

If there’s one thing we wish everyone knew about collaboration, it’s that honest and specific feedback is crucial to the creative process. Vague feedback will get you nowhere fast and is, in fact, the enemy of your project.

We’ve come to discover that vague responses can result from a number of causes. Sometimes people aren’t sure how to share what they are really thinking. In other cases, some simply don’t want to offend others when they don’t like what’s been presented. Unfortunately, we aren’t mindreaders so let’s talk about why unclear, downplayed or obscure feedback just doesn’t work.

Why Being Vague isn’t Helpful

Vague feedback is problematic because you haven’t specifically stated what needs to be fixed or improved upon. You’re leaving your designer or writer guessing and searching for answers, which is not only frustrating but also a time-consuming effort to figure out the way ahead. This means additional rounds of revisions (which could result in increased fees), changing timelines and deadlines, and may mean your project doesn’t launch exactly when you’d like. 

Examples of Bad Feedback

Not sure what vague feedback looks or sounds like? Here are a few examples of some not-so-great feedback:

  • It looks bad. 
  • I don’t like that sentence. 
  • It doesn’t blow me away.
  • This looks great!

Fortunately, we’ve done this long enough that we can help you learn how to give better feedback whether in a digital meeting, in person, or online!

How to Give Better Feedback

Better feedback starts with being more specific. As the Niagra Institute puts it, “Good feedback is specific, timely, contextualized, and actionable. Simply put, good feedback is constructive… Bear in mind that good feedback can be positive or negative. What makes good feedback good is the delivery.”

In circumstances where we are receiving vague feedback or basic responses or can tell when someone is having a hard time articulating their thoughts on a project, you may hear us ask questions like the following to help you be more specific about what you do or don’t like about the work we are presenting.

  • What looks bad? The color, font, logo placement, imagery?
  • What don’t you like about it? Are we not explaining the topic clearly enough? Are we using too many words or too few? Is it hard to read?
  • Sounds like we’re on the right track. Can you tell us more specifically what you do like vs. what you don’t like? Is there a particular element that you’d like to see more of with the next round of edits?
Questions like these help us work together to achieve the result you want and also help you improve your feedback-giving skills in the future.

Examples of Good Feedback

Not sure what good feedback looks like? Here are a few examples.

  • I like how you added texture to the design. I feel like it adds more visual interest and helps break up the larger sections of content.
  • I like the direction this is taking, but could we try a different color with the X element? The current color pairing still vibrates on the screen.
  • I understand the point you are trying to make in the third paragraph, but it reads a little awkwardly. Can we try flipping the order of the third and fourth sentences?

Our Best Tips for Providing Feedback

When we ask for your feedback, we want you to be honest and specific. This will allow us to have a better collaborative conversation about the changes that need to be made to reach the desired result. And yes, this means if you absolutely hate it, we need to know not only that but also why it doesn’t hit the mark. All we ask is that you share your feedback respectfully.

At the end of the day, we’re working with you to create something that reflects your brand. Our goal is to deliver a project you’ll be proud of, and that means we need good feedback to achieve that goal.

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