Replace “critique” with “report” and “artistic works” and “design” with “manuscript.”
An abridged version of the article could also go to students who fill out teacher evaluations.
First off, let’s all get on the same page; a critique is a critical discussion or review, typically of artistic works. You might think you already know that, but there is an important thing to take away from that definition; you will notice the word “opinion” is nowhere to be found. This is not to imply that opinions have no place in critiques, rather, it is meant to show that the two are not synonymous. Critiques are about dialogue; a two-way conversation. There is critique etiquette to observe. Just because you may not appreciate someone’s work, does not mean it is without merit.
When Giving a Critique
Ask questions. Critiques should be more of an investigation than an interrogation. Try to understand why the designer did something before suggesting that they do it another way. Basically, try to understand the problem they’re trying to solve.
A critique is not the time to show how smart you are. It’s also not the time to blindly state how you would do things as though the designer is wrong.
Beware of nebulous design buzz terms.
Keep it brief and poignant.
“I don’t like it” is one of the least helpful things you can say. The fact that green isn’t your favorite color means very little in the grand scheme of things. Instead, stick to what is concrete. Did you have trouble finding valuable information in the design? Do you see anything that might be a problem when a design gets printed/programmed? Is there something vastly different than what the client is expecting?
Don’t make it personal.
A critique is not only the time to bring up problems with a design, but also to highlight what is successful. Alternating praise with the constructive criticism is a good strategy for all-around happiness.
Think before you speak.
When Receiving a Critique
You are not infallible and neither is your design. Let yourself be wrong, you will learn more and become better for it.
Criticism by its nature is a tricky beast because it relies almost solely on subjective means. If someone is having a bad day, they can easily take it out on you in a critique. Don’t let yourself be drawn into a pissing match. Stick to the facts of the design and the challenges at hand.
Be open to all the ideas and feedback you receive. Try not to get defensive. You are often very close to your design work and may not see something that’s glaringly obvious to everyone else.
Sometimes you will need to prod people for their real thoughts. If people are stone-facing you with an “I don’t like it” angle, try and crack them. Ask questions to try and draw a real response out of them. Chances are, their problem may be with a small piece of the design and they are just having trouble communicating it to you.
By that same note, take feedback with a grain of salt. You should at least entertain comments from your peers, but if you feel strongly about an aspect of your design, stand up for it and make your case.
When critiquing someone’s work, above all else, put real thought into what you are saying. Ill-conceived commentary usually feels as such, and will inevitably cause someone to call you out on it. Take the time to write or say what you mean, otherwise there is little point in saying anything at all. The person you are critiquing put time into what they created. If you are going to step up to the plate and offer criticism, good or bad, show them enough respect to put a bit of time and brain power against your thoughts.
Found through www.swissmiss.typepad.com