Lab Zero

How To Make the Most of a Design Review

You’re our executive sponsor. You’re our business stakeholder. You’re our subject matter expert. You’re the business analyst who mocked up the data we’re presenting. You’re the head of product.

And you’re busy. So let’s make the most of this design review.

If you take away only one thing from this discussion, make sure you start by understanding the context of the review. Context is a bunch of stuff:

  • the person (or persona) who has a problem we’re trying to solve
  • the design goals we held highest while trying out solutions 
  • the constraints (whether technical, business, or aesthetic) that we accepted
  • the problems that we determined (with you) that were out of scope
  • where we are in the design process (flows or wireframes or mockups)

design review

Beyond the context, here is a quick list of dos and don’ts that make the difference between a frustrating, over-time meeting and a smooth, compact, actionable meeting of minds.

Do

Don’t

Do give feedback that’s at the appropriate level for the stage of the review.

Don’t start polishing on the first round of the review. Likewise, don’t question the design goals that were agreed during the first session during the last scheduled review.

Do just jump right in and say what you’re thinking, if you’re alone in a room with us.

Don’t sweat the small stuff when we're in an early-stage review.

Do tell us what you think.

Don’t tell us what everybody else is going to think.

Do tell us whether you think we met the design goals.

Don’t change the design goals in the design review.

If the design doesn’t work for you, do tell us why.

Don’t try to re-design it during the review.

Do ask for extra time to go over more feedback.

Don’t worry that we won't get the radio button aligned properly; when we're working with a larger group sometimes we prioritize walking through a design at a high level over getting detailed feedback. But we always make time to return to get that detailed feedback.

Do come to the design reviews.

Don’t skip the first two reviews and then give all your feedback at the end.

Are you ready for results? You can be a good partner by giving us contextual, timely, actionable feedback. See you in the next review!

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Lab Zero is a San Francisco-based product team helping startups and Fortune 100 companies build flexible, modern, and secure solutions.