One of the best things to do when giving feedback is to try to separate the problem from how we would like it to be solved. Most of the time, the first thing that comes to our mind is “it would be better to do it this way”, that’s absolutely natural because when we try to help we imagine how we’d like it to be. That’s already very useful, but it’s even better if you’re able to stop for a moment and think about what triggered that idea. Is it because it’s too slow? It’s because you’re trying to do something else?
For example this is typical feedback:
I just need a button that opens the customization tool directly.
And this is the same feedback that separates the problem from the solution:
On this page, I have no idea where to go anymore to customize the site, so I’m a bit lost. Maybe a button at the top would help?
Before vs After
Change is difficult, we have all experienced this. We manage to learn even the most difficult things, and they become second nature, so when they change at first they seem more difficult, even if giving it more time would help.
This however doesn’t mean that your first impression was wrong! Quite the opposite: it highlights that there’s a barrier in moving from the old way of doing things to the new way.
For this reason, it’s great to give space to both perspectives: describe the first impression you got, which is great feedback, and then give it some time and describe what happens after a while.
For example this is a good before and after feedback:
When I opened the page, I was completely lost. It seemed just the same, but when I went to look for my profile in the sidebar, it wasn’t there anymore! It took me a while to find it again hidden under the “User” menu.
After a few days, however, I found the new interface cleaner and more relaxing to work with, even if I have to do an extra click to access that old function once in a while.
My Shoes vs Others
It’s impossible to be objective, and in a way, that’s not why you are giving feedback. Your feedback is important because it’s yours, not because you’re able to be the perfect average person.
The way to be you, and express your point of view, while giving the tools to contextualize it, is to explain why you do something in a certain way. This helps create a better understanding of how you work and why you do certain things.
For example, this is a feedback without context:
I hate this change. Adding images is terrible. Every time, I have to go through all these steps from the post, to the gallery, to the caption, and back. Can’t we just have a nice interface to manage all the images at once?
And this is with context:
I write a travel blog and each post represent a specific day or trip I do. Each post has a nice gallery attached to it, where I curate the sequence of the photos and add a caption for each one of them. Order and description are very important, that’s why I need something that allows me to manage all these photos together.
All good, what should I write then?
When you give feedback you can follow this quick checklist:
- Assumptions: explain your use and perspective
- Problem: try to be clear on where the problem is, and explain how to reproduce the issue if it’s an issue
- Solution: if you have and idea, or even more than one, list them separately
- Screenshots/Videos: if possible show the issue. Images avoid ambiguity.