The design process is a constant cycle of feedback and critique. For some building owners, giving design feedback is a new experience. While you may have no problem with compliments, saying “I don’t like it” may feel uncomfortable.
We understand that giving feedback is a little awkward, but we also understand its importance. Your design team needs to know when something isn’t working, so they can test new solutions. They also need to know when something works, so they can keep steering the project in the right direction.
We believe setting clear expectations about feedback leads to the most successful partnerships. In this article, we will discuss five tips for giving your design team feedback:
1. Make sure the right voices are in the room
2. Turn on your camera
3. Voice initial reactions
4. Give feedback early
5. Communicate at all stages
After reading, you’ll be better prepared for the design process and more confident about voicing your opinions.
5 Tips for Giving Your Design Team Feedback
1. Make Sure the Right Voices Are in the Room
Successful projects involve feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders.
Most projects involve a dedicated group of decision-makers that attend regular meetings with the design team. For some organizations, this group may include those with a financial stake in the project. Other organizations may include representatives from various departments.
Although this group will provide feedback most often, your design team will also want to engage individuals who will use the space daily. These individuals may include employees, community members, and your facilities staff.
Occasional meetings with these larger groups help your design team develop more equitable solutions that fit everyone’s needs. These meetings also help you better understand the thoughts, feelings, and concerns of those in your organization.
Although your design team may not be able to incorporate all the feedback, large group meetings establish consensus and shared ownership of the outcome.
2. Turn on Your Camera
In the post-pandemic world, virtual meetings are the norm. If you meet with your design team over Zoom or Teams, remember to turn on your camera.
Most communication is nonverbal, and body language and facial expressions speak volumes. Turning on your camera allows your design team to see your reaction, helping them better gauge your thoughts and opinions.
A concerned look can lead to a productive conversation that steers the project in a better direction.
3. Voice Initial Reactions
Immediate reactions are always the most helpful. In design meetings, the saying “if you see something, say something” rings true.
A candid reaction starts a conversation. Your design team can dive deeper into your reaction and develop solutions that better align with your vision and goals. Honesty leads to the best outcomes.
4. Give Feedback Early
Feedback is most effective in the early phases of the architectural process. At this stage, you set high-level goals with your design team and test concepts. The design is malleable and easy to change.
As you progress through the design process, decisions become more concrete, making changes more complicated and expensive. You should feel confident in your decisions by the time construction begins.
If something isn’t working, voice your thoughts before you get in too deep. Your architect can help you explore as many options as necessary before making final decisions.
Learn more by reading about when to make changes to a design.
5. Provide Feedback at All Stages
Feedback is necessary at all stages of the architectural process—even after design work is complete. Beyond the design, your architect wants to know how well they are communicating and handling budgets and schedules.
At Neumann Monson, we send feedback requests at every project phase to better understand our performance. These feedback requests help us notice our blind spots, adjust our approach, and keep Client Experience at the top of our minds.
Feedback is also important during construction. As the Contract Administrator, your architect facilitates communication and advocates for your needs. Be sure to provide feedback on the construction progress and your contractor’s work so your architect can smooth over any issues.
Ready to Learn More?
Feedback is foundational to the design process. If giving feedback is a new experience for you, fear not. It’s your building, and your design team wants to provide solutions that fit your needs and goals.
If something isn’t working, speak up! Turn on your camera and voice your initial reactions, so your team can change direction. And—of course—if something works, let them know you like it.
Now that you better understand feedback, prepare for your first meeting with an architect by reading about the six expectations architects have of clients.