While there is no way to predict the future of remote work, one thing is for sure - remote collaboration is here to stay. Even if some businesses keep offices, nearly 50% of U.S. employees won’t return to jobs that don’t offer some type of remote work. For the design and marketing community, this makes remote design feedback a must.There are several challenges that come with remote collaboration. Vague feedback, lack of context for projects, and sharp learning curves for new tools make it difficult for teams to work on assets together.Nearly everyone needs to communicate these days: HR teams creating company newsletters. Growth teams designing a new onboarding email. Content marketers crafting landing pages for the latest campaign. And these teams always have a mix of skills. Designers, copywriters, marketers and more. Designing together is a must.This article will help make sure your feedback is constructive, as well as recommend tools that allow for remote design collaboration and comments.
How to give useful design feedback on a remote team
Whether your team has implemented formal design reviews or simply shares feedback on the fly, it’s pivotal to establish standards for feedback that leave individuals feeling empowered to do their best work.
Know your onboarding processes
Chaotic onboarding makes for difficult collaboration. Everyone wants to move forward quickly and with confidence, and leveraging design tool features is pivotal for this process.Before onboarding a new team member or client, know the following:
- Which design tool best suits the need of your business
- The collaboration features for communicating within the design tool and how collaborators will be notified (notification centers, tagging, emails, etc)
- How subscriptions work and the price per team member or user
Embrace radical candor
“Radical candor”, coined by author Kim Scott, refers to the practice of giving straightforward feedback while maintaining a positive relationship with your team. Scott ranks types of feedback on a scale that has Caring Personally on one axis and Challenging Directly on the other.She posits that there are four main types of feedback:
- Ruinous Empathy. AKA avoiding giving feedback to spare someone’s feelings.
- Manipulative Insincerity. Giving vague or lazy feedback to assert power over someone.
- Obnoxious Aggression. Giving accurate feedback in an unkind way.
- Radical Candor. Being honest about feedback while showing that you care about the person’s growth and success.
Radical candor is healthy in any work environment, but it’s especially useful when communicating online. Your team can't rely on body language and context. So it’s vital that you show empathy intentionally, while also being specific with the feedback that you’re giving.
Give feedback regularly and predictably
It’s natural for team members to want to know how to improve their work, but no one wants to be micromanaged. Set a regular cadence for feedback so they know when to expect critiques on their designs.It’s also best practice to have an agreed-upon rubric or standard for work, so that creatives feel that they are being evaluated equally and know what they are working towards.Beyond establishing the when, also establish the how. Which tools are you using to give feedback? How will you know when the feedback has been incorporated? What happens when one design has multiple collaborators?
Work with creatives to set goals
Every person is different and will best receive feedback in different ways. One way to ensure that your feedback is useful to the designers and copywriters you’re working with is to set mutual goals.For example, maybe you know that this designer is working on improving their mobile designs. In this case, you can tilt your feedback towards developing this skill set. This helps frame feedback as an act of mentorship, rather than a critique.
Address specific elements to move fast and prevent mistakes
When it comes to design feedback, specificity is king. It’s the difference between quickly addressing issues and getting things done versus becoming stuck in a slew of comments and never-ending back-and-forth.Highlighting specific elements using tools that have comment features is the best way to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Tools to give design feedback
It’s challenging to be specific about feedback when working on complex digital assets.For example, how do you provide feedback on one call-to-action button when there might be four of them in an email? Or how do you give feedback on different versions of the same asset (like a desktop vs mobile-designed landing page)? Things get messy, fast.Depending on the digital asset you are working on, there are several tools to help you and your team collect design feedback quickly and accurately. Here are our favorites.
- BEE Pro: BEE Pro gives creatives the power to create response designs without any coding knowledge. Design emails and landing pages with your team using a drag and drop interface and always-expanding collaboration features.
- Figma: Loved by designers to create user interfaces of all kinds, Figma includes many collaboration tools, including real-time multi-user editing.
- Canva: Adopted by millions of users around the world, Canva helps teams collaborate on creating graphics for social media campaigns, presentations, videos and more.
- InVision: One of the pioneers in bringing collaboration to design tools, InVision continues to innovate and their Freehand product aims at merging a whiteboard with a digital design suite.
- Adobe XD: Adobe XD brings real-time collaboration to teams that are used to working with Adobe products. It also puts the accent on helping create design systems collaboratively.
Streamlining the design review process with Viewer role
Emails and landing pages are often cross-functional digital assets. On top of that, different stakeholders come in and out of the process as a campaign develops. A member from another department may “check in” on the asset, or sometimes an outside partner or client needs to give approval before something goes live.When people are popping in and out of the workflow, it’s hard to keep track of feedback and changes. Especially when they don’t have a subscription to your design tool.We recently addressed this challenge, by introducing the new Viewer role in BEE Pro. It allows you to invite anyone (in or outside of your organization) to review the email or page you’re working on and provide feedback, without having to pay for another BEE Pro account.
A Viewer can comment directly in the visual builder, but they cannot edit the design or the copy.They can create new comment threads or respond to existing ones, so feedback is accurate and content-specific. But since they cannot edit, they don’t need to worry about accidentally breaking something - and you don’t have to worry about unwanted changes.BEE Pro helps businesses quickly design high-performing digital campaigns. With the new Viewer role, collaboration becomes even easier and faster. Available now on the Team plan and above.If you’re new to BEE Pro, contact us or get started with a free trial.