Critique

Design Critiques

Where your work is Roasted to Perfection.™️ The Rotisserie Sessions are design critique sessions that give designers an opportunity to share knowledge and help each other improve as designers.

Kitchen Prep

You’re probably already intimidated by the name. You’re probably thinking, “I’m not trying to get roasted.” or “That’s a terrible name for critique.”

Today, the phrase “Roast” has a negative connotation due to its slang counterpart and it is imperative that the perception of the term “roast” is changed for this context. In the culinary world, roasting is a cooking method that utilizes dry heat to cook. The result of this cooking method is usually a browned, crispy exterior accompanied by a tender, moist interior. A good example of this is barbeque.

Brad Makes Whole Hog BBQ with Rodney Scott | It's Alive | Bon Appétit

It takes time, skill, experience, and repetition to master cooking in a barbeque pit. A good pitmaster will be able to follow a recipe and execute the cooking method to a T. A great pitmaster will be able to alter a recipe and cooking method to get the same delicious barbeque time after time. It takes time and skill to be able to repeat a recipe over and over again. But it takes expertise and repetition to understand what is happening in the cooking process and adjust to ensure the end product is always delicious. The expert understands that the heat is never the same in the pit. The expert understands that sizzling means the meat is cooking all the way through. The expert can smell that there isn’t enough seasoning. The expert adjusts to the circumstance.

As it is with cooking, it is also with design.

We are exposing our methods and our projects to critique in hopes to create something delicious. It takes time, skill, experience, and repetition to become a great designer. What might not be our expertise may be another designer’s and we embrace that. During the critique session, we point out where methods may have gone wrong and what methods can be added to create better flavors. We suggest what aesthetics can be changed to push our work over the top. We fine tune our senses to know when something is just our preference versus the needs of our users. When everyone’s expertise comes together, you get the perfect roast.

Design Culture

A part of design critiques is creating a design culture. How we interact, serve, and design together as a team creates a design culture that not only we enjoy, but a design culture that others want to be a part of.

How To

Presenter

Fill out the first portion of your Google Doc in the sessions folder by 12:00pm on the day before presenting.

Presentation Pointers

  1. Give context to your project. Not everyone knows what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
    • It’s important to tell people the problem you were presented and what the goal of the stakeholders is.
  2. Show your research.
    • Present research addressing the proposed problem. This allows the group to evaluate what the root issue may be and how to solve the problem/ accomplish the goal.
    • We don’t want you to waste your time assuming that you are solving a specific issue when the root problem is something else.
  3. Iterate.
    • Bring iterations. It’s good to see and share your design thinking.
  4. Red card when it isn’t useful.
    • You have the power to keep your discussion on track. Use the red card when the discussion has derailed and is no longer addressing the issue you presented.
    • If the discussion derails but is helpful, you have the power to change the topic to something else, as long as it is within your allotted time.

As a presenter, address these questions:

  1. What is your design/project?
    • Give context to what you are working on briefly.
    • Product, User, Flow; whatever you think is necessary for good feedback.
  2. What is the problem you are trying to solve?
    • Be specific as to what you are trying to address; this will keep critique on track.
  3. Who is the target user?
    • Address who your design/project is made for.
  4. What is the importance of solving the problem for the user?
    • Address the value of your redesign for the user.
  5. What is the importance of solving the problem for the business?
    • Address the value of your redesign for the business.
  6. What is your solution?
    • Describe your solution and how it attempts to solve the problem.
  7. What is the nature of the feedback you want in this session?
    • Navigation, visual, architecture, interactions, edge cases, etc.

“Context and Critique Goals make critique effective and efficient”

Facilitator

As a facilitator, make sure the session runs smoothly:

  1. Preparation
    • Create a new session by duplicating the -week-template in the sessions folder and renaming it to the presentation date.
    • Slackbot currently reminds presenters to fill out the first portion of their own Google Docs at 9:30am on presenting day — use this thread to ask who will be sharing stuff today.
    • Prior to the critique session, open all presenters’ presentation links to make sure they are viewable and do not require additional viewing permissions.
    • Bring Post-It notes, pens, and timer from the UX Cubby (Suite 150 Cubby 31).
  2. Keep time
    • 10 Minutes Total per Designer
    • 03 Minutes for Presenter
    • 07 Minutes for Critique
  3. Keep Discussions on Track
    • Keep feedback relevant to the problem the designer is trying to solve.
    • Remind session members of the problem.
  4. Get Everyone Involved
    • Try to get everyone involved in the critique, not just the few talkative individuals.
  5. Record Critique Session
    • Record feedback for the presenter at the bottom of their Google Doc.
  6. Remind Next Facilitator
    • The Facilitator changes each week, going in alphabetical order by last name (i.e. week 1 is Connolly, week 2 is Hanaoka, etc).

Critics

As a critic, understand the project/design better and share knowledge, suggestions, and ideas as to how it can be better.

A list of to-do’s:

  1. Ask lots of questions for clarity and better understanding.
    • Things that are unclear for you may be unclear for others.
  2. Give constructive criticism
    • The goal of constructive criticism is to point out why a current design or solution does not work (in the perspective of the critic) and what potential solutions are there.
  3. Give positive feedback
    • Positive feedback tells the designer what works and why it works
    • This is not simply a morale booster but a guide for what has worked when designing future iterations
  4. Feedback needs to stay within the scope
    • The presenter is coming into the session looking for feedback on few things; don’t derail the conversation by critiquing what is outside of the scope, it catches the presenter off-guard and can waste time
  5. Personal Feedback after the session
    • If you have feedback, tip and tricks, or other things not within the scope of the critique, meet with the person afterwards
  6. Write your feedback on post-its.
    • Write your thoughts and feedback on post-its for the presenter to look back at.
  7. Guide discussions with questions rather than suggestions.
    • Make the presenter describe his/her design thinking and rationale behind decisions.

A list of not-to-do’s:

  1. Don’t have your devices out during the critique
    • Give the presenter respect by paying attention and giving good feedback.
  2. Don’t talk about what you like/don’t like or looks good/doesn’t look good
    • “I like that” and “That looks good” are completely subjective; try talking about what works and why it works.
  3. Don’t attack the presenter
    • Don’t critique the presenter.
    • Help the presenter become a better designer by critiquing their work.

“In the best critiques we’ve seen, the critics never made a single recommendation. Instead, they asked questions and guided discussion. They talked about the significance of design rationale as it pertained to a bigger philosophy and vision for the design.”

Resources

Last modified on 2019.11.05
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