352 Inc. / Digital Marketing / November 12th, 2008

Developing Junior Designers through Group Critique

Part 1 of a 4 part series on design critiques.

One of the best parts of my job is working with my design
interns every semester.  Nothing is more
exciting than seeing 5 polished, confident designers emerge after 13 harrowing
weeks of lectures, assignments and critiques. 
Each semester, I am reminded that (despite all the work I put into their
weekly lectures) their critique experiences are their best teacher. 

Critique is a core component of a new designer’s
development.  Everyone knows how
important it is to get another set of eyes to check out your work…no news flash
there! But the benefits of critique go way beyond that feedback. When a group
of designers engage in critical, thoughtful conversation about design on a
regular basis, magical things happen! Check out some of the slightly less
obvious benefits of critique…

Better Interaction with Clients

Regular critique makes talking intelligently about design
second nature. The confidence and experience this gives new designers is
priceless in client meetings and collaboration. 

Improved Ability to Self-edit

Constantly critiquing makes a designer more observant and
critical about the details of a design. This helps them edit and improve their
own work.  

Depersonalizing!

I’ve seen so many designers get blocked or off track because
they have a hard time with client feedback or design direction.  Being more emotionally detached from your own
designs is the key to coping with this inevitable part of the job.

Self Awareness

Every designer has their own design weaknesses, patterns,
strengths and crutches. Getting feedback each week helps make them all much
more obvious. This self-awareness is a great asset in improving and evolving as
a designer.

In short, don’t underestimate the power and hidden benefits of
critique. In a design world that is so heavily driven by software tricks and coding
techniques, it’s good to get back to the basics.

Up next..Part 2: Tips on Painlessly Breaking in Critique Newbie