Creative Feedback in a Digital Work Environment

A couple years back, KPS3 traded in manila folders and job tickets for Slack and Jira. You remember those folders, right? They had a few aliases — “Job Jacket,” “Job Bag,” “Job Folder,” “Dirty Ol’ Brown Bag.” You’d get a job bag with a work order. Do the work. Print out the work. Put the work in the job folder. Put the job folder on the reviewer’s desk. See that stack start to pile up and sneakily go back and put your job on top of the stack when your coworkers weren’t looking. Oh, those were the days.

But as our work and our agency started going digital, the print-it-out and paste-it-up method faded away. The trees were happy. Our account people were definitely happy. But, where does that leave your creative team when all of a sudden you’re taking screenshots and posting them into slack?

Here are our methods for giving and receiving meaningful and productive feedback when it’s fighting for attention in 181 slack channels:

1. Have a space for creative eyes only.

If you’re like me, you can’t stand seeing something unread. I click through slack channels like it’s nobody’s business… except mine, obviously. It can be intimidating to post first drafts and then receive unsolicited feedback from “looky-loos” like me. That’s why we have a channel in slack that only our creative team has access to. It’s a safe place, and you can get feedback openly from the whole team. This is really great for initial designs.

ProTip: Make sure you’re providing a brief or background when you post. If you don’t provide context, you’re not going to get constructive feedback.

2. Share your work frequently.

A picture (or screenshot, or link to an example) says a thousand words. The best part of digital group feedback is you can post your work early and often and let the feedback trickle in. It’s a 24-hour feedback cycle. This is the main advantage! You don’t have to print something out and wait for a meeting. It allows your team to be much more agile.

3. Have a creative team member in the channel who can check your work, before you wreck your work.

As I mentioned in the first point, the creative channel is great for first drafts. But say you’re working on a campaign that’s established or a new outdoor board opportunity came up, and you need it by the end of the day. In those instances, it doesn’t make sense to involve the entire creative team in a digital discussion. But you should still have another set of eyes on your work. I think this is where that :thumbsup: from your director is completely appropriate.

4. Ask for and facilitate specific feedback.

This applies to pieces of your project, and people in your project. When you post something and you see “several people are typing…,” you’re going to wish you’d given context.

Make sure you’re communicating where you are in the process. And, who you’re specifically seeking feedback from when you post it in an open channel. Is this group feedback time? Do you just need sign off from your director? Do you just need someone to make sure your grammar is correct, but don’t really want more feedback on the design? Communicate that.

ProTip: I find it helpful to recap the feedback you receive by compiling it in a list or message. This helps explain your interpretation and make a clear path for your revisions.

5. Give feedback. Review the feedback your peers have given. Don’t be afraid to have a debate.

If you’re late to the game, don’t just hang out on the sidelines. Try your best to scroll up through the inevitable memes and emojis to review what your peers have been discussing. Use slack threads to go back to something that got lost in the minutia. If you have a lot of thoughts or are giving feedback on a major design such as a homepage or campaign look and feel, try using a snippet or sending it in a bulleted list to help your teammate easily review your feedback and solve their design challenges.

6. Know when to pull the rip cord and have that IRL meeting.

I’d like to say this goes without saying. But, ya know, Millennials, right? Slack is not a substitute for meaningful conversations with your team.

Be realistic about meetings. Our calendars are already stacked. But having weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly huddles can ensure lines of communication stay open and don’t get lost in the translation of a keyboard.

These are some of the methods we’ve put in place at KPS3. What have you found effective?

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