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Set up Design Critiques


Introduction

Getting feedback is crucial in the design process. Frequent feedback on team’s process allows them to detect false assumptions, catch missed opportunities, and improve their designs. Teams should get feedback during all parts of the process, such as initial research plans, main insights and HCWs, brainstormed ideas, and building and testing. Critique sessions allow teams to use the wisdom of the community and gain constructive guidance. Teams can receive frequent constructive guidance in many ways: informal or formal critique sessions, round-robins, etc. Below are ways to run a formal crit sessions at your studio.  

Outputs: Team have 3+ actions items from receiving critiques.

Effective ways to set up design critiques:

  1. Download this Crit Session Organizer/Facilitator One-pager for tips on organizing and facilitating crit sessions.
  2. Confirm the goals and logistics of the crit session.
    • What do teams need feedback on? How should they prepare for the session?
      • If teams are looking for feedback on their insights, make sure teams share their research process and plans. If teams are trying to choose concepts to build, make sure teams share their sketches and pros and cons of each concept.
    • How will teams present? Teams can present expo style, give quick pitch presentations (5 minutes of pitch/short slides) followed by a meet and greet, formal presentation style (10 minutes of presentation with individual feedback after each one) etc.
    • How will teams receive feedback? Teams can receive verbal and/or written feedback. If it is verbal, make sure someone on the team writes it down.
    • Logistics: Room set up, AV, Sound, Poster/display boards for teams to put up visuals, food and refreshments!
  3. Invite community and guests.
    • Send invites out to professionals at least 2 weeks ahead!
  4. Get teams ready for crit by preparing a presentation.
    • Prepare 3-5 minute presentation with in-progress work, visuals, stories from their process, and specific questions about their design direction and process.
  5. Get teams in a growth mindset as they prepare for the crit!
    • Say “Yes, and…” or “What if…” instead of “But…”. Teams should accept the feedback and ask for clarification instead of defending them.
    • Help teams be comfortable with sharing in-progress work. They should be looking for room to grow, not validation.
  6. Run a crit session.
    • Introduce everyone in the room. Introduce your studio as well by sharing the studio’s vision and goals.
    • Let your guests know what good feedback looks like:
      • Everyone should feel welcome to give and receive feedback!
      • Feedback givers should give constructive feedback and actionable suggestions.
    • Tell people the format for presentations and feedback.
    • Keep the time schedule. If anyone have comments, make sure they write it down or find a time to chat with the team after the presentation.
    • Wrap up with a quick debrief session and say thank you’s!
      • Ask for a quick “I like… I wish…” from the attendees!
  7. Help teams figure out their next steps.
    • Set up some time for teams to discuss their feedback and have tangible next steps for the projects.
  8. Send a thank-you note to guests, mentors, and experts to thank them for their time!

Network Best Practices

Run regular crit sessions every 3-4 weeks like DFA Northwestern

DFA Northwestern holds regular crit sessions every 3-4 weeks for teams to receive regular feedback. Teams come to crit with a 5-minute presentation of their work while the rest of the audience comments on Loft and/or writes feedback on the post-it notes. One time, they held their crit outside!


Invite guests and mentors to your crit session like DFA BC

DFA Barnard|Columbia connected with local design masters students from the School of Visual Arts to give their teams coaching and feedback. The designers from the SVA will be attending Barnard|Columbia's review to share their expertise on the design process by giving teams feedback. DFA BC’s quick tip to have a great feedback session: “Email master’s programs in your school, or schools close by, that focus on design, entrepreneurship, or innovation and ask them to attend your team's reviews!”