The demands of designers, managers, customers, and products are always evolving, so the degree to which you tailor your process to these stakeholders can be as important as the review itself.
When should the review happen? Who should come? How much should be covered? These are all crucial considerations that will be influenced by your design and your stakeholders, so developing a foundation for a successful review, and then asking the right questions to tailor it to each project can dramatically improve your process.
At CoLab Software, we understand that the design review process is filled with challenges - from technical challenges, to people/process ones. To help guide you through those challenges, we’ve done our homework, talked to the experts, and put together the 8 questions you should be asking ahead of a design review to ensure its success.
Some projects may require frequent, short design review meetings, while others may need less frequent, more comprehensive ones, and sometimes a meeting isn’t needed at all. 3D viewers and issue tracking tools make coordinated design review meetings (physical and virtual) less and less important given their ability to keep entire teams persistently in the loop. Regardless of the frequency and duration of your reviews, make sure they match the needs of your team, and your project.
Excluding a crucial decision maker from your design review process can lead to wasted time, and critical errors, while including unnecessary parties in the review can waste their time, and inhibit decision making. Make sure the right people are in the room, and don’t waste the time of those who don’t need to be there. If you want to keep your extended team in the loop, send over a high level overview after the meeting.
While some customers will be active at every stage of the design process, others will prefer to simply receive updates and be presented with a much later-stage version of your design. Understanding the role your customer wants to play, and the role your team needs them to play, will better manage expectations for everyone, and make the process more effective overall.
Invision suggests that “The project’s primary designer needs to keep the session productive, fast-paced, and under an hour, so being organized and setting scope are key”. For most teams, a facilitated design review can be a much more effective process in making sure that all relevant opinions are presented, and discussed, while the scope of the review is upheld.
Many teams use Google Sheets or Excel, while other teams use project management or issue tracking software to automate management processes and make coordination simple and efficient. Regardless, establishing who will hold the ‘master list’ of required changes before the review begins will ensure a comprehensive set of changes.
It is inevitable that sometimes, there will be disagreements, and you may reach an impasse. Establish a system to resolve your disputes, and keep your review moving. Does one stakeholder have the ultimate say, or does everyone get a vote? Adobe suggests a sticker system. Regardless of what process works for your team, ensuring a system for quick dispute resolution will keep your review on track.
It is crucial to understand what homework needs to be done, and then make sure everyone does it. Bliley Technologies suggests you stop the process if people haven’t done the prep they need to. Using that time to ensure everyone is prepared for a productive review will pay off in the long run, and ensure your team is performing at their best. To make sure everyone has the information they need, use a centralized platform and integrate it with your existing workflow and tools. Check out how CoLab can help you streamline your review process and centralize key information.
Is everyone located in the same office, or is the team dispersed? If the team is dispersed, a virtual review may be the best decision, and selecting the right software to do this is crucial. Platforms like GotoMeeting, and Google Hangouts allow your team to quickly connect and share screens.
Design review isn’t easy, but by asking these 8 questions ahead of your review, you can set your team and customers up for success.
Putting these tips in action? Let us know! How has your organization improved preparation for your design reviews?