We know from experience that correctly pitching your feedback requests to a client is essential. You need to ask the right questions of the right people at the right time.

The feedback clients give is directly linked to their hopes, dreams and fears for the project. A lot is riding on getting their project done right, and feedback is their steer on what ‘doing the project right’ looks like for their organisation.

Asking for feedback in the right way is one thing, but understanding how and why they want to give feedback comes first. We have worked with many different clients, and have learnt there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to client feedback.

Here are three questions to ask clients ahead of asking for feedback. Ideally you would ask these as part of the client kick-off.

1. “Can we learn from your past experiences of giving feedback?”

Every client team will have at least one frustrating story to share, and it can often be a cathartic experience for them to share it. Alongside a typical pre-mortem, ask them about the experience they’ve had giving feedback on projects. Maybe they weren’t invited to feed back enough, maybe they weren’t listened to, maybe they were asked too many open-ended questions. Whatever it was, this is the experience they don’t want from you. Make a note of it, and don’t do it.

2. “How can we prepare artefacts to provide clarity for your team?”

It’s tempting to share everything, everywhere, all at once. But dunking a client team, especially a team without designers, straight into an entire design file can be daunting. Understanding what a client’s day-to-day toolbox looks like can help you understand how best they can practically share feedback. Whether it’s chopping content up into bits and pieces, adding a big red box to relevant areas, or converting screens to PDFs, it’s all about finding what makes sense to your client’s mental model.

3. “How much feedback do you honestly want to give?”

Have we been hired because they want someone to take control of the design process completely; take the brief away and apply expertise? This might involve pausing only once or twice for feedback to check we’re not going wildly off-piste.

Or have we been hired as collaborators, to work alongside folk that want to join forces to make the best design decisions throughout the project? This might involve a more structured feedback approach.

Feedback is a gift, especially when it’s from a busy client team, but are we making it as easy as possible for them to give us the right gift?