How to Conduct a Design Review with Stakeholders

UX Matters has a very useful, practical article about a difficult subject — how to walk stakeholders through your design approach. Although it focuses on product design, the tips and techniques outlined are equally applicable to presenting web designs.

Having been on both sides of this activity, I am all too aware of how difficult it is to keep the review on track and to generate feedback that is useful to the designer.

As the presenter of the design, it’s often hard to keep the stakeholders focused on what’s important — “I don’t like green” is not a helpful comment (unless you’re the project sponsor).

As a stakeholder, if the designer is not presenting the design well, it’s equally hard to know what feedback is appropriate.

Does he want to hear feedback about color scheme or are we only concerned with layout? Is it appropriate to talk about functionality or accessibility at this point?

Ever been in a design review where it all goes quiet because no one’s sure what to say? It’s pretty painful.

If I’m not sure what’s expected of me in terms of feedback, I make it a point to ask. I’m happy to give all the feedback I can, but if some of it’s going to be ignored, then I’d rather focus on what will be listened to.

Likewise, as a designer, in order to avoid last frantic minute design changes it’s critical to clearly reiterate the goals of the design to your stakeholders and what you want to get out of the design review meeting.