Terrified of design crits? You’re not alone.

You’ve got your brief, you think you understand the problem, your plan is to go away and quickly mock up some screens.

Do you:
A. Have a clear idea and end up producing a tonne of output that takes you so far down a certain path that it’s hard to backtrack. Input from the team, users or stakeholders then either means patching up a solution or the soul-destroying realisation of it not being fit for purpose, but there’s not really additional time to start again. Result: panic.

Traffic cone prevents people walking on broken pavement

B. You go away thinking it’s clear, but nothing seems to materialise beyond a login screen. Looking at a blank screen, you tweak a few bits and pieces, but don’t really move forward. Colleagues ask for an update and your only viable option seems to be able to delay and go offline promising the world for a day or two later.
Result: panic.
2 days later, you’re more or less in the same spot, but now you’re starting to consider going into hiding because now you’ve got the added time pressure.
Person hiding and peaking through a hole

Take a breath 🙂 Stop suffering. 🤗
You don’t need to create perfect screens alone. Hi-res screens that look great and work perfectly will come, but first you need to start talking through it, bouncing ideas around, sketching to think and discuss, not to present handover deliverables.

Top tips

  • Share your work little and often with a key team member
  • Time box sketching by targeting specific design problems
  • Get inspired by looking elsewhere
  • Take a short break, maybe do some exercise
  • Design a research session involving your work and users

Sharing little and often is the quickest way out of any rut.

Fearful of a design critique?

  • Take control and ask specific questions re what you need to know
  • Don’t hide your design work striving for a “finished” deliverable.
  • You cannot solve design decisions by yourself if the problem connects to users, stakeholders and development options
  • Share little and often as part of your process
  • Get comfortable with “scruffy” sketches; they’re impossible to understand alone, but talking people through them works

Have you heard of achievement journals?
If it’s a good idea reflect after each project, extract a summary and materials to talk through what you have created, it’s also great to keep a note of what you’ve achieved. Celebrate what you’ve learned and the road travelled.
High five

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