“Your design isn’t a work of art. It’s a business solution. Practice being critiqued.” — Matthew Smith (Squared Eye)
Who in their right mind wants to practice being critiqued? Encouraging others to critically examine the work we produce (and in some ways, us as designers or as people even) is not something that comes naturally to most human beings. There is an emotional aspect to all design. It doesn’t matter if you are responsible for the visual treatment, the interaction design, the IA or even the copywriting. All of it comes from you as a person and therefore retains an emotional connection, an investment, if you will, of “you”.
Most experienced designers understand the challenge of filling your work with enough passion and emotion to make it genuine and yet remain emotionally distant enough that you can separate “you” from your work. Even if you are well-versed in this practice, critique can still be hard to swallow. Why on earth would I recommend designers seek this out?
The process of engaging in meaningful critique of your work decreases the amount of time spent holding on to design decisions that may not actually solve the problems you are facing and open the door to constructive conversations that highlight specific and actionable solutions you would not have arrived at on your own.
“Without critiques our estimation skills suffer. We overestimate our genius and underestimate our design’s potential.“-Paul Scrivens
As you engage in and open yourself up to this type of open, honest criticism of the work you are doing, the resulting qualities of being approachable, humble and receptive lead to better communication, greater creativity and more transparency in the thinking behind the design process.
There is no doubt that companies and teams that encourage a culture of honest critique dramatically increase the quality and accuracy of design decisions that meet and exceed business requirements. However, this takes time, honesty and a willingness to be proven wrong. Which is why Matthew said, “Practice being critiqued.”