Good web designers know that gathering client feedback is key to delivering effective designs. But just because you know you need client feedback doesn't mean it's easy to get.

If you struggle to gather meaningful design feedback, or you feel like you're continuously going back to the drawing board after yet another round of client-proposed changes, maybe it's time for a different approach. Here are five things to consider when asking for design feedback from your clients.

1. Speak your clients' language (not yours)

As a web designer, you walk the walk and talk the talk of design. However, your clients probably don't  — which is why they hired you. If you want to gather useful feedback from them, you need to use language they understand.

This doesn't mean you have to dumb things down or avoid using design lingo entirely. But if you're going to reference design terminology, you should give an explanation first so they have a starting point to work from.

2. Ask how their audience will view the design

When you ask someone their opinion about a design, it's natural for them to give you, well, their opinion.

However, that doesn't always work when you're designing a website for a business. We all have personal preferences, but these might not make for the most effective web designs. For example, you might dislike the color yellow, but if you run a bee farm that sells honey products, it makes sense to feature yellow or a variation of it on your website.

In other words, you need to ask your clients how their customers will feel about the web design. Is it functional for customers? If the site is supposed to sell a product, is it easy for customers to actually buy something?

Basically, consider what your client is trying to accomplish. Who is their target audience or ideal customer base?

For example, a website for a children's activity center is probably going to look a lot different than the site of a certified financial planner. By encouraging your clients to consider the design from their customers' point of view, you can gather more useful design feedback.

3. Ask narrow questions

Many designers get halfway through a design project, then have a big reveal where they unveil their progress to the client, step back, and say "ta da!" The problem with this approach is that it encourages clients to comment on the project as a whole, which can result in vague feedback.

Worst case scenario, a client says "I don't like it" or "it doesn't work" without elaborating. This can lead to a major redesign, which requires additional time and money.

You can solve this by asking narrower, more targeted questions. Instead of asking something like "what do you think?" or "let me know your thoughts" consider:

  • Are the colors something your customers will enjoy?
  • Will this page convert to sales?
  • Do you think this design will appeal to the demographic you're targeting?

These are much more focused questions, and they force your clients to drill down to specific areas of the design.

4. Limit their options

Specific design feedback is useful feedback. You can gently maneuver clients into being more specific by giving them fewer options to choose from.

For instance, if you want their thoughts on the look of a contact form, show them two choices and ask them to pick one. Similarly, if you're second guessing the color of a design element, show them a handful of options and only those options.

You can do the same thing when you ask for feedback generally. Rather than asking for design feedback on the project as a whole, limit the review process to a few elements. For example, focus solely on the color scheme and fonts or ask for feedback on just the page layouts.

5. Get on the same page

Good web design is a collaborative process. You're the design expert, and your client is most likely an expert in their field or area of business. Together, you're a powerful combo. If you put your heads together, you can come up with something truly great.

As you go through the design process, it helps to have a visual record of the edits and requested changes to the site.

The old way of gathering feedback involves having clients write out a list of the changes they would like to see, then awkwardly trying to include written instructions for how to find the page they're referring to. This can create a great deal of frustration for designers who must try to decipher the client's notes, track down the page or item, and then hope they make the correct change.

As you can imagine, things get messy this way. Fortunately, a tool like Marker.io can help by putting the whole team on the same page — literally.

With Marker.io, clients can quickly create notes directly within the design, so everyone on the team knows what needs to be changed and why. And with Feedback Status, clients get their own dashboard for staying up to date on when changes are complete.

Make web design feedback easier with Marker.io

Marker.io makes gathering design feedback a breeze. Try it for free to see how it can help your agency.