We’ve all met those parents. The My-Child-is-Perfect-and-Beautiful-and-No-One-Can-Say-Otherwise parents. These parents are convinced that their baby is perfect. These are the same parents of the kid you just saw eat a booger ten minutes ago on the playground.
There’s a reason why people often refer to projects as “your baby”. Because that project is yours, it is precious, and as far as you’re concerned, it’s perfect. But, just like those parents as they watch their baby go move on to the oh-so-pleasant teen years, we must all realize that our babies have flaws.
In graphic design, this realization comes in the form of people taking your design, ripping it into pieces, and then rearranging it into a more pleasing manner. And, oh yes, I mean that literally.
But as anyone will tell you, it’s really nothing personal. Critique is the mean teacher to your naïve student in this movie trope metaphor we call life. It causes us to think critically, stop looking at it as our “baby”, and realize its flaws. This process should go on from start to end, from the first spark of an idea to the final steps. Here are a few things to do along the way to make sure your work is flawless:
- Ask others about it Finding people of different backgrounds means getting unique viewpoints. For instance, if you’re building a website, a tech-impaired friend may say that the navigation isn’t intuitive, an SEO-expert might say your site is unsearchable, and a lawyer might say, “Hey that’s copyright infringement. How did you even get that?”
- Walk away from it This is usually my favorite piece of advice (anything for a vacation, amiright?). Stepping away for a few days or even a few hours gives a new frame of mind. When you come back to it, you’ll probably spot the flaws immediately.
- Compare it Check out what your heroes have done in the past and compare it to your project. Noticing a gap? Well there’s your problem.
- Present it Present it to the people around you. As you present you’ll begin to notice changes that need to be made. Instruct your audience to ask as many questions as possible. If you can present it with pride and without reservation, no more changes are needed (NOTE: This never happens.)
Follow these steps and you may just end up with something that’ll make momma proud.
So yeah, sometimes critique hurts, but it’s usually that same critique that makes you and your work a little better. It’s not personal, it’s just a necessary part of the process. So don’t wuss out, talk with some people and start ripping that project to little bits until it works.