Improving Design Feedback Sessions: A Product Designer’s Guide

Discover how to get the kind of actionable feedback you can use to transform your products during design feedback sessions.

December 13, 2022
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How would you describe your job to a five year old?
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Building a product in a vacuum is a surefire way to create something that flops.

Get an MVP in front of your target customers’, on the other hand, and you’ll set yourself up for the best possible chances of success.

Read on to find out how to get actionable feedback you can use to drastically improve your product from every design feedback session you run.  

Why is feedback important in product design?

Instagram started as an app that allowed users to check in at their favorite spots before pivoting when its founders realized users were far more interested in sharing images on the platform.

Play-Doh was launched as a wall cleaner in the 1930s under the name Kutol before pivoting completely after finding a teacher had been using the product during arts and crafts classes.

YouTube began life as a video-dating site before its founders realized users were using the site very differently to how they’d intended.

These companies owe their success to listening to their customers. If they hadn’t, they’d have joined the 49.7% of US businesses that fail in the first five years.

The sooner you get a pared-down version of your final product in front of the kind of people you’re hoping are going to become paying customers, the sooner you’ll find out whether what you’re building is going to get them reaching for their credit cards. 

Which is why inviting your current users – and potential customers – to design feedback sessions is a simple and effective way to fast-track this process.

Try Assembly to make gathering customer feedback as simple as possible.

How do I start a design feedback session?

There’s plenty you can do before you start sending out invites to your design feedback session to make sure it generates as much actionable feedback as possible.

Firstly, pick out a diverse group of people to get feedback from. Make sure each of your customer profiles are represented in each feedback session – from power users to people who’ve never used your product before.

Then load up a product feedback template with the questions you want your subjects to answer (more on what questions to ask in a moment) to make it as easy as possible to collect, review, and restore the product feedback you receive. 

Simple and effective product feedback questions

The more questions you include in a survey, the less time respondents spend answering each one. Which means you need to choose what you ask during product feedback sessions wisely if you want quality feedback.

These five questions are a great starting point:

Does using this product help you accomplish your goal? 

This will help make sure your product does what it’s meant to do.

How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend or colleague? (0 – 10) 

This will give you your Net Promoter Score (NPS) – the most widely used market research metric and a great indicator of how much testers like your product. 

How easy is this product to use? (1 – 10) 

You won’t tempt many customers away from your competitors with a product that’s difficult to use.

How likely are you to use this product over similar platforms? (1 – 10) 

This will give you a sense of how your product stacks up against the competition (you might even want to specify a competitor for a like-for-like comparison).

How would you feel if you could no longer use this product? 

Giving participants three choices to this question (Not disappointed, Mildly disappointed, and Very disappointed) will help reveal if you’ve got product/market fit.

Book a demo of Assembly to empower your people with all the tools they need to run seamless design feedback sessions.

How do you incorporate feedback into your design process?

Getting feedback from your potential customers is only half the battle. Determining which feedback is worth listening to and then turning those comments and criticisms into actionable next steps is where the real work begins.

Keep these rules of thumb in mind when it comes to incorporate feedback into your design process as effectively as possible:

The customer is always right

It ultimately doesn’t matter what you, your boss, or your shareholders think about the product you’re building. All that matters is if your target customers are willing to pay for it. 

So, it’s crucial that everyone on your team leaves their ego at the door and puts what your buyer personas think about the product you're building first. After all, what’s the point of asking for their feedback if you’re not going to listen to it?

People can tell you what they don’t like, but not how to fix it

Product testers can give you invaluable feedback on where your product is falling short. If they tell you the UX is clunky or your app is missing key features, you should listen carefully.

On the other hand, you should take any specific recommendations they have for how to improve on those problems with a pinch of salt. People are generally great at telling you what they don’t like about something and terrible at telling you how to fix it.

Book a demo of Assembly to quickly and easily collect product feedback for your design team to turn into actionable next steps.

Beware of the bike shed effect

A nuclear power plant is being built on the edge of town and you’ve been selected to be part of a committee that needs to approve its plans. You don’t have the first idea what goes into building a nuclear power plant, and neither does anyone else on the committee. So you spend most of your time discussing the design of the staff bike shed, as that’s something you can all offer a valid opinion on. 

This is known as “the bike shed effect”, and it’s crucial you keep this in mind during your design feedback sessions. If your customers spend a lot of time during focus groups and in your surveys on minor details like the color of your app’s buttons then it might be because they think more important things – like your product’s functionality – are “above their paygrade”. 

Make sure to counteract this with some carefully selected questions that guide the conversation away from the color of buttons and towards the functionality of your product.

Balance quality and quantity

The more people who flag an issue during testing, the more seriously you should take it. 

But quantity isn’t everything. You also need to make sure you gauge how important each issue is to your customers so you can prioritize them appropriately. 

For example, your testers are unanimous that you should change your app's color scheme, but just 10% of them flag it’s missing a key feature they need to do their work. You need to prioritize adding that feature, or you’re losing out on 10% of your potential customers out the gate – before they even set eyes on your color scheme.

The final word

Getting your design feedback sessions right can be the difference between a product that flops and a runaway success. Stick to the tips we’ve laid out here and ask the questions we’ve recommended to get actionable feedback every time you invite your customers to have their say on an MVP of your latest product.

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That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

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