Discussing Design: a workshop

How my team practiced discussing design


Giving and receiving design feedback is a hidden skill where if done well, leads to growth of individual design skills, increased trust between team members and, of course, better design.

Like any skill, discussing design needs practice. I personally knew this was a growth area for me, and decided to create an activity where my team and I could practice together.


Even within design feedback, there’s a variety of skills to master, such as giving feedback, asking questions, receiving feedback, and dealing with difficult feedback.

Focus on one skill the group can practice through repetition. For example, I chose to practice the area of giving feedback.

Learning and practicing a new skill is easier when there is a straightforward format. I chose the design critique framework from Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry’s “Discussing Design”, because of its emphasis on critical thinking:

  1. Verify objective of design
  2. Identify design choices
  3. State whether design choices meet objective and why.

Because people are trying something new, provide safe and simple ways for them to practice. For example, bad designs of bathrooms are fun and easy to critique:

“If the objective of the design is to allow for comfortable and quick potty breaks…placing two urinals so close to each other at a 90 degree angle…is not effective because it doesn’t allow more than one person to comfortably use at the same time.”

I asked each team member to send me a design so that we could practice giving feedback on UX/UI, and also so we could experience what it felt like to receive feedback with this new framework. Setting five minutes for each person, we reviewed photography choices, microcopy recommendations report, email newsletter, sign-up flows, 404 error pages.


Get feedback on feedback! I asked for feedback on the activity:

“If the goal of the workshop was to learn and practice effective feedback, practicing with simple examples and then with real-life examples was effective because it allowed for practicing in a safe space.”

As for me, I got a kick out of the group sounding professional and thoughtful while talking about ridiculous bathroom designs :D.

slides for practicing design critique

User Experience Designer

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