How to Give Feedback to Your Website Designers and Developers

You are working with a partner to design or build your organization’s new website, and they are presenting their deliverables (e.g., a sitemap, wireframes, design comps, first draft of the website build, etc.). How do you organize and present your feedback in a way that’s clear, concise, and gives your vendor what they need to do their best work?

Perhaps you are not completely clear about what you want. Or maybe you are not familiar with design/technology concepts or lingo. Or you might have many different people on staff who will have (possibly conflicting) feedback. Managing a big digital project can be challenging to navigate even for the most seasoned pro.

Here’s a template to help guide you and your organization through the feedback process.

Review and Explore.

Take a tour of the deliverable.

  • Ask the vendor to present it to you in a meeting, ideally via a screen sharing video call, so that attendees can see what’s being presented and ask questions. If possible, record the meeting.
  • Make sure that everyone who is being asked to give feedback attends this meeting. The core project team should be at every meeting, but consider inviting a few additional stakeholders to each presentation. If they can’t participate encourage them to watch the video afterward.
  • In the meeting, focus on asking questions first. Ask attendees to write down their comments and opinions.
  • Ask about the reasons behind design and development recommendations  so that you understand the context when giving feedback later.
  • Ask the design or development partners if there are any particular areas they want feedback on and discuss the tools or formats to be used for the feedback.

Gather Responses.

Cast the net wide for feedback from everyone involved in the project  – you can edit it down in the next step.

  • If possible, schedule a meeting for all of the stakeholders who will be giving feedback on this deliverable. Ask attendees to bring their written comments and opinions.
  • Walk through the deliverable together and solicit feedback as you go. Where there is conflicting opinion, ask attendees to explain the thinking behind their choice and how it relates to the original goals of the project.
  • Capture the feedback in writing, in list form, organized by section or pages of the deliverable. If necessary, capture conflicting opinions.

Collate and Edit.

Now that you have everyone’s initial responses, take some time to organize  it.

  • Identify  the reasons or needs behind a request rather than describing a specific solution. This approach allows the partner to problem solve with you. For example, “Users need to be able to find a program more easily from the homepage.” Rather than, “Please list all programs in the navigation drop down.”
  • Merge duplicate feedback and order by deliverable page, top to bottom. Add screenshots or links to the deliverable or section as needed to help illustrate your point.
  • If there is conflicting feedback, include it along with a note asking the partner to give their recommendations based on the goals that were set in the discovery phase, or based on their design or technical expertise.
  • Set up a feedback review meeting to discuss the feedback, including conflict, if needed, and to find a way forward. Let the partner help you make the case to your colleagues if you both agree some push-back may be appropriate.
  • Order the feedback by priority. Put non-negotiables at the top and nice-to-haves at the bottom. This helps the partners measure their efforts against what is important to you.
  • Submit feedback in a way that will make it easy to discuss and to check off once the deliverable is revised. Use a to do list, or a spreadsheet with comments for targeted communication. Avoid long email chains!

A good feedback process allows all stakeholders to feel involved, but allows room for various ways of achieving a common goal, all while taking advantage of the expertise of your design and development partners. Taking the time to do this part right will pay off over the lifetime of the project.