A design review is the moment where you ask your team and users to evaluate and critique the current design work. It's not about selling your design to others - it's about figuring out what's working well and what needs improvement.
Why is this important? You want to ensure your design is meeting the project requirements and goals. Avoiding to do it can result in costly mistakes and shipping features that users don’t understand. One way to avoid this is through a design review.
When to use the Design Review Playbook
Not all features need a design review and it's less about the size of the feature and more about its importance. Our recommendation is to organize a design review when working on complex solutions or flows that you're unsure about.
You also want to think about who to include in the review. For minor features and changes, your core product team can review your designs. For big bets or complex features, include sales, customer success, marketing, and customers to validate your design options.
But even if you only run design reviews for specific features, it can still be time-consuming and extend your roadmap for weeks. It's crucial to find a balance between getting feedback early and shipping faster. And this is why asynchronous design reviews are so powerful, especially when you use video. Async design reviews help you iterate faster by offering flexibility, improving feedback quality, and avoiding scheduling too many meetings.
Another benefit of using asynchronous feedback methods is the quality of feedback you receive. In a live meeting, receiving feedback can be difficult for several reasons:
- People may interrupt your flow and story, providing feedback without having the full picture.
- Feedback may not always be rational, as people need to react quickly. Some people may also not feel comfortable giving feedback in a live setting.
- To make live meetings more efficient, you may need to run design reviews with a small group of stakeholders, but this requires repeating the same process multiple times.
Using asynchronous feedback methods allows for more thoughtful and comprehensive feedback, as reviewers have time to fully consider the design before providing feedback. Let’s see how.
How to get started
Preparing a Design Review
Start by organizing all your layouts, making sure the flow makes sense. Ask someone working with you on the feature to validate your mocks. This ensures you don't do a design review and start getting feedback about elements not fully validated.
For complex flows, you need to tell a story. Break your presentation into sections: explain what was the issue, how you tried to solve it, show the solution, and ask for feedback at the end. This structure allows you to be precise and ask good questions at the right moments. It’s particularly important to bring up uncertainties you discovered during the design process with your team.
For the simplest designs it’s more just cleaning up your files, add a few sections in your presentation, and present.
Pro tip: duplicate your original design file for the review. This allows you to simplify the mocks without messing up with the main file that is going to be used for the specs.
Running the Design Review
When recording your design review, pay extra attention to your presentation flow. You want to help the user feel like they are experiencing the real product. Some people are not used to design reviews and can feel lost if the flow is not fluid. Here’s how you can do it and other useful tips:
- Use and above the zoom feature. People outside your product team don't have a complete view of the ratio of the image. So zoom in on details to avoid comments like “this is too small”. That’s not the feedback you’re looking for.
- Add comments in the timeline to pinpoint each change, so people can easily navigate the contents of the recording.
- Include polls at each section so you can easily collect feedback. Ask questions like “do you find this useful?” or “is the new version better?”
- And above all, make it fast and be concise on each section. You want enough people to watch it and a 10-min video will get less engagement than one that is between 6-8 minutes. That’s the time of a coffee, a break in the day, so it isn’t a big ask for your users.
Once you finish recording, it's time to share:
- Create a specific "Design Review" topic in Claap to centralize recordings and keep track of their status using labels.
- Connect your Design Review topic with Slack to automatically post new reviews into the right Slack channel.
- Share the link with your users by email or in a shared Slack channel.
Encourage your team and users to annotate the video and leave their feedback easily. You can do this with with written comments and mentions. The video will automatically pause to force people to answer. Address feedback as it comes in, and if there's anything that's unclear, don't hesitate to ask for more information before wrapping up the review.
After the Review
Once you have received sufficient feedback, it is time to discuss it with your team and prioritize the next steps. If the changes are straightforward, simply incorporate them and hand over to your tech team. In some cases, you might discover better solutions during the design review. In such cases, it is time to go back to the drawing board and consider a second design review.
Traditional design reviews can be slow and frustrating, requiring scheduling calls with end-users, resulting in feedback being received over the course of a week. This can be particularly frustrating, wasting valuable time and risking changes based on the first feedback that may not be representative of others' opinions.
Claap eliminates this problem by allowing you to record and share your design on the same day and receiving feedback within 48 hours or less. Additionally, Claap makes it easier for users to provide feedback. They can watch your recording during a break, leave a few comments, or reacting with an emoji. It's a powerful and efficient way to gather feedback quickly.