Feedback is a vital part of the design process. It allows a designer to check they're on the right track with their interpretation of a client's brief and – hopefully – get constructive suggestions for the development of the concept. But probably every designer out there has had clients whose feedback is bizarre, vague, contradictory or just plain awful.
A website builder platform set out to collect such experiences on Twitter, and the results are the stuff of every designer's nightmares. From clients who don't know what they want to those who put forward suggestions from family members, there are many responses that readers will no doubt be familiar with themselves. Below we look at some of the best (for more experiences from inside the industry, see our pick of the best graphic design books).
What is the *scariest* design feedback you’ve received? 👻October 20, 2022
With Halloween approaching, Webflow asked its followers on Twitter about the scariest design feedback they had received. The replies didn't take long to pour in, with designers sharing the worst phrases and responses they've received from clients. Responses ranged from clients telling designers to abandon their own style guides to student about-turns in the brief.
"This is good. But can we change the overall direction to do it from scratch," was one probably quite common client suggestion shared. "Are you sure this is what I asked for?" someone else put forward, while "I think we're getting close" is surely another phrase that all designers have come to dread. That's closely followed by the variation "I think we are in the right direction. Now can you go back to the earlier designs?" That's up there along with, "This isn’t the final version, is it?"
Some of the worst feedback encountered involved clients claiming they could do something themselves more quickly. "I can do that with Weebly in 1 hour and it took you 20h," one web designer said he'd once been told about a design for sitemap core CMS architecture with 100+ URLs. Meanwhile, web designer Web Bae said the worst feedback he'd received was "This isn't how Apple would do this".
Other complaints included requests to make buttons, logos, and basically everything "bigger" to "make it pop". But one of the biggest complaints was client uncertainty. "They don't know what they don't like but keep asking for '..let us see something different.' No specifics, no preference," one designer said. Here are some more of the responses.
It’s was a cold dark night, with a mist in the air only the dim light of a monitor when the cold hand of a ceo whispers, “my wife thinks that would be better like this”. Mwaaaaaahhh hahahahOctober 21, 2022
The scariest feedback is no feedback 🦗Usually, this is a symptom of people not feeling comfortable enough to give it OR not caring or knowing enough about the problem/project to think of any.💀🥶October 20, 2022
Please make the terms and conditions link smaller so the users will not notice it.October 21, 2022
Pretty much any subjective feedback makes me cringe.Give me business reasons why something doesn’t work or 🤫.Bad feedback: “Make it purple.”Good feedback: “The way the web page flows doesn’t do a good enough job of encouraging the user to commit to a certain action.”October 21, 2022
Unfortunately, unhelpful or just plain scary feedback is likely to remain part of the package for designers, especially freelancers. Asking plenty of questions and probing the brief before starting a project can help, but inevitably there will be clients who aren't sure what they want to have difficulty communicating it. For some tips, see our classic guide to the worst clients and how to deal with them.