Website design feedback management can quickly turn into a nightmare for all parties involved. In this guide, we:
- Give project managers actionable tips to manage their feedback;
- Show clients how to give better feedback during a web project.
We’ve all been there: color-coded spreadsheets, frantically annotated screenshots, dozens of frustrated emails... it can turn into a real mess.
So how can you carry out your web design projects—without a three-day headache as a result?
We’ve organized this post into two different sections:
- The “project manager” section: a complete guide on how to set up a flawless website feedback collection process.
- The “client” section: tips & tricks to make sure you get the most bang out for your buck when giving feedback to web agencies. Project managers, show your clients this!
We have quite a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive in!
Organizing and managing feedback as a project manager
1. Set up your issue tracker for client feedback
Most of your client feedback lives in emails, Slack messages, and meetings notes.
This creates a lot of back-and-forths and it’s near-impossible to properly keep tabs on everything.
Here’s how we did it as an agency.
Your first issue tracker
The first step is to create a source of truth with all feedback. We will call that your issue tracker, which is a fancy term to say “feedback tracker”.
Tell your team and clients: if it doesn’t exist in the issue tracker, then it doesn’t exist at all. Period.
As project manager, it will fall down to you to categorize feedback—and then assign team members.
Every issue in your tracker should have at least these four labels:
- Reporter. Who reported it, and who should be kept in the loop for more questions and status updates.
- Assignee. Who is best suited to fix the issue: designer, developer, content creator?
- Priority. How severe is the issue?
- Type. Is it a content problem, a visual problem, or a workflow problem?
It can be as simple as a Google Spreadsheet or Excel file:
Whatever bug report template you choose to use, make sure your clients understand it and have access to it.
While a spreadsheet is a great starting point for smaller teams, it can soon turn into a nightmare for a few reasons:
- Your team has to update it constantly. In most cases, your team already works in a task management tool like Trello, Jira, or Asana.
- You can’t communicate. It’s hard to have a conversation on a spreadsheet. After 100 comments or so, Google Docs is a mess, too.
- Not great for bugs. It’s not great for technical bugs which require a lot more information: console logs, environment data, steps to reproduce, etc.
You can use any project management tool or issue tracker that you like.
For this post, I'll use Trello as an example, but there are dozens of great bug tracking tools out there.
Whenever your client files a new piece of feedback, you should immediately categorize the issue, then assign a team member to it. With Trello, it takes just three clicks to go from client report:
To a complete, well-organized list with issue type, priority, assignee, and due date:
The best part? Your team can filter tasks directly from Trello to see what needs to be worked on next:
Ok! Now that your issue tracker is set up, it’s time to get some feedback and bug reports from your website straight into your issue tracker.
2. Collect website feedback to your issue tracker
There are 3 ways to get feedback into your issue tracker:
- Collect -> transfer. Collect feedback from clients via email, Slack messages, and meeting notes, then have someone make sure everything is in the issue tracker.
- Client access: Invite your clients to your tracker and ask them to create issues themselves.
- Website widget: Collect visual website directly on your website with a website feedback widget like Marker.io that will feed directly into your team’s issue tracker.
Option 1: Collect → transfer
The “Collect→transfer” option gives you maximum control, but it’s very time-consuming.
You will have to transfer everything the client sends you in your issue tracker, then back to the inbox to update your clients.
Option 2: Client access
The second way would be to give your client access to your issue tracker and let them create issues directly.
The problem with this approach is that you might not want to expose your internal tools to your clients. Plus, it forces your client to adopt yet another tool just to send feedback.
Next thing you know, they might end up sending emails again because it’s too much hassle or they can’t get it to work, and you’re back to square one.
Option 3: Website widget
The best way for your client to send you feedback is to use a website feedback tool that lives on your website.
It’s as easy as using a live chat you see everywhere on the web.
With a tool like Marker.io, here’s how easy it is for your client to report a bug or share an idea:
The best part is that Marker.io is in constant sync with your issue tracker.
This means that every time your client clicks that “Create Issue” button, your team will receive a neat report like this:
What about technical bug reports?
Nothing makes developers angrier than an unclear bug that they struggle to reproduce, let alone understand.
Any of these sound familiar?
- Which page were you looking at?
- What browser are you using?
- Do you have technical errors in your console?
That’s why it’s important to have a checklist of items to ask your clients when they report bugs—you never know what developers might need.
The absolute bare minumum should be:
- A title & description with steps to reproduce
- A screenshot
- Page URL
- Browser, environment info, and console logs
Thankfully, when your clients report feedback with Marker.io, our widget will capture all this information automatically.
Now find me a developer who wouldn’t want to get bug reports like this!
3. Communicate with your clients
We now have a strong feedback tracker and have options for how to get your clients to submit website feedback.
But what if your developer has more questions? For example, what if your client does not like an image, but fails to provide an alternative?
Depending on your setup, you need a way for your team and client to communicate .
- If you’re using a spreadsheet, create a column “notes/communication” where anyone can add questions.
- If you gave the client access to your internal issue tracker, most tools will have a “commenting” section.
- If you’re using Marker.io to collect feedback, our tool also comes with a feedback portal.
This is how you can communicate with your client without giving them access to your internal issue tracker.
For each issue, your team can start a chat with your clients.
The best part is all communication will be logged automatically by the Marker.io bot into your internal project management tool, too!
Pro tip: whatever method you use, make sure that all conversations are organized around each issue. Avoid starting a single conversation thread that discusses multiple issues at the same time.
4. Notify clients when issues have been resolved
In the agency world, you live and die by your reputation. A happy client will stick around and refer you to new business.
That’s why you should offer clear and transparent communication.
If your clients are going to take the time to offer feedback, the least your should do is let them know when their feedback has been addressed.
Whatever method you use, every issue a client submits should have a status. A good starting point is:
If you’re using a spreadsheet, add a new column with these statuses.
However, you still have to ask your team to update yet another tool just to let your clients know how it’s going.
But that’s annoying...
As a developer, you job is to fix bugs and address feedback. It’s not to send email updates for every little change, right?
Again, we have good news.
If you’re using Marker.io to collect and collaborate on client feedback, our 2-way sync with your issue tracker will make this process seamless.
When your developers mark a client issue as “Done” in your issue tracker, Marker.io will automatically mark the issue as “Resolved” and notify your clients.
Check it out:
How to give website design feedback as a client
Agencies make it part of their routine to ask for product feedback when sending deliverables to customers.
But, most struggle with receiving good input from their clients. Often, it is vague, incomplete, and impractical.
Don’t be that guy!
In this section, we’ll look at a few easy ways to give your agency feedback that they will love.
1. Give feedback early, and often
Different production stages require different feedback.
During pre-design—before the agency even starts the project—be as exhaustive as you can:
- Provide a style guide that fits your requirements;
- Show them fonts, color palettes, and other websites that you really like (copying is not cool, but inspiration is fine!);
- Provide an idea of the general site structure (hint: use Whimsical for this).
Once early versions of your site are live, focus on design first:
- Are all elements (menus, images, forms) in the expected spots?
- Is your brand’s visual style clearly communicated throughout the site?
And finally, once the final build is ready, focus on functionality:
- Is anything not working as expected, or broken (images, custom code, links…)?
- Are there any major user experience issues?
Give your feedback in small chunks instead of everything at once, making the review process more manageable. Start with a specific area/page/form, for example.
2. Be actionable
Remember that if someone who has been working on your website for weeks misses a bug, it can’t be very obvious what the issue is.
You want your developers to be able to easily find or reproduce it.
To that end, you’ll need to share a lot of info:
- What is your operating system?
- What browser did you use?
- Console logs
- Screenshot/video if necessary
- Steps to reproduce
If you’re not super tech-savvy, it might make sense to ask your agency to use a website feedback tool like Marker.io to automatically capture this info.
Alternatively, you can use this neat checklist for all bug reports going forward:
3. Be specific
For a lot of designers, developers, and other creatives, client feedback often looks something like this:
- "I don't like this."
- "This needs to be different."
- "It's not working."
- "Can we move this?"
Before you know it, you're stuck in an endless feedback loop of comments and edits that eat up time and resources.
To avoid lost productivity and frustration, be specific about comments and changes.
Use precise language. Instead of:
- “This font doesn’t work.”
- “This font is too small. Use the style guide we provided, and blue for links.”
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.
4. Proactively reduce back-and-forth
Whenever you have meetings with your web agency, try to discuss every requirement at length.
Leaving things “less important” that “could be done later”, in some cases, means going back to the drawing board.
Some agencies will use a pre-design website questionnaire. If not, ask for one.
Asking questions you know will come up at some point in the next few weeks will save both parties a ton of time (and headaches).
5. Use tools rather than emails
Just because Slack is fast and easy doesn’t mean it won’t take up less of your time.
Rather than instant chats, take some time to adopt your agency’s tools. Some may ask you to work straight from their issue tracker.
Others use a website feedback tool like Marker.io. There, you can discuss specific issues separately, ensuring minimal confusion:
6. Understand which bugs are worth reporting
Before reporting a bug, ask yourself: is this worth reporting?
Sure: you want your web design project to be flawless. But at the end of the day, time is of the essence.
If the defect only sometimes occurs on an obscure page that the end-user rarely ever sees... this is probably not a big deal.
So, which bugs are worth reporting?
Typically, two conditions come into play here:
- You can reproduce the bug with ease. If you can’t reproduce the bug—especially if it only occurred once—do not file a defect report. Developers won’t be able to retrace your steps either.
- The bug has not yet been reported. Take the time to perform a quick search in your issue tracker to check if someone else already reported the issue. You don’t want to waste valuable dev time trying to reproduce a bug that has already been fixed.
By following the two simple rules above, you’re reducing the number of bug reports a fair amount—and your developers will thank you for it.
7. Report bugs immediately
If you try and file a report days—or even hours—after noticing an issue for the first time, chances are you won’t remember the steps taken to reproduce the bug.
This leaves a potentially critical defect for the disgruntled end-user to find.
Next, write down the steps clearly, but in as few words as possible.
Large projects typically have hundreds of reports, and you don’t want to waste a developer’s time reading long-winded sentences.
Bug reporting forms must be impeccable themselves:
At Marker.io, we like to keep it simple, but effective: steps + result + what you expected to see instead.
One such report might look something like this:
As a last resort, we sometimes recommend getting into a quick call with the agency (for more serious bugs only).
In some cases, showing step-by-step how to reproduce a specific bug is faster than trying to decrypt a long-winded bug report.
The developer also gets to see if the client/end-user is operating the app or website in an unexpected way.
We hope you enjoyed our guide on how to get better client feedback during web design projects.
You should now have a clear idea of what a good client feedback process looks like. The next logical steps are:
- Adapt your tools to be able to include the customer at some step of the QA process.
- Ensure good organization of feedback going forward—and educate your client on the best ways to give feedback as well as file bug reports.
Got more tips? Send ‘em our way via Twitter or email!