How Facebook Runs Design Critiques

How Facebook Runs Design Critiques

Giving creatives constructive criticism is tricky, but it’s also the only way to help them strengthen their craft. That’s what designer Tanner Christensen found after experiencing Facebook’s weekly two-hour critiques, which were centralized on authentic feedback rather than denigrating commentary.

How to Run Design Critique Like Facebook

  1. Assign everyone in the critique a role.
    1. The person sharing their work is the presenter. Their role is to describe the problem being solved and to present content solutions they’ve come up with.
    2. Others attendees serve as the audience, and their job is to actively ask questions and understand the context of what’s being presented. The audience’s questions are the most important part of the critique–they help the designer reevaluate the original problem for the next step.
    3. The last role belongs to the facilitator, who creates a schedule for each critique in advance and takes notes. The facilitator also asks the presenter what their next steps will be.
  2. Agree to the problem. Reiterate the problem being solved to set up a foundation from which productive feedback can be given. Then, the presenter should give a problem statement in this format:
    1. I am showing [early/mid/late] work
    2. Around [the problem]
    3. Because [why it’s a problem]
    4. And am looking for feedback around [specific focus for feedback]
  3. Focus on feedback, not criticism. The critique shouldn’t boost the ego or agenda of anyone in the meeting. Instead, the audience should format their feedback primarily in the form of exploratory and guiding questions, with an intent of building up or improving the work. For example, “I liked how you addressed this part of the design, how do you plan to scale this other part?”
  4. Put gadgets away. Last but not least, you can’t explore problems and nurture your team if you’re buried in your phone or laptop screen. The facilitator is the only one who is allowed to have a laptop out (since they’ll be taking notes). The second exception goes to the one presenting.

Takeaway: Critiques don’t have to be critical. By setting up a meeting where everyone involved has a clearly defined role, your team will feel empowered to constructively tackle the problem being addressed.

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