Product Design Lessons

User Testing  |   Lesson #25

Manage Criticism, Not Vice Versa

Learn how to deal with a mass of comments on your design projects.

Figure Out Three Main Takeaways

Our first instinct is often to iterate on every valuable comment. But that’s not productive. We’ve found that choosing up to three tasks from the big picture lets you focus on the right granular items.

For example, our designers once needed to improve a site’s mobile-friendliness. But they also needed to tweak the whole site’s color scheme. They had to decide which would be the best use of their time. Which would result in more progress? Would adding more white to the color scheme mean you don't have to change layouts as much?

The answers depend, of course, on each project — point is, you start by making a conscious choice. Your time is valuable. Spend it wisely.

Deal With Conflicting Feedback First

Person A says this. But person B says that. When two opinions differ, it's up to you to choose which to follow — if either. But we recommend tackling conflicts before moving on to other changes because your choices now will affect the rest of your to-do list. Choosing which course to pursue is where you exercise your design expertise to make the call. Lean on your experience. Go with your gut. You’re the designer, after all.

Know What You're Doing, and Why

If a change is unclear, set it aside. Sometimes making a change without understanding why will cause more problems than it solves. Asking for clarification isn’t the same as admitting ignorance. For example, someone might suggest enlarging text size across the site. Is it for aesthetics, or to help people with poor eyesight? If the former, you’d want to make sure the typeface is worth enlarging. If the latter, you might want to consider improving the contrast as well.

Hasty decisions in the web world can take twice as long to recover from if users become accustomed to changes you pushed too quickly. The end result is likely to cause headaches from customer-service issues and confusion in your company's internal development team.

About the instructor


Ben Gremillion is a Design Writer at ZURB. He started his career in newspaper and magazine design, saw a digital future, and learned HTML in short order. He facilitates the ZURB training courses.