Expert Reviews – Taking Criticism on Board

expert review

Expert reviews – Are you looking for challenge or ratification?

Previously, we mentioned how a diverse UX team can pay dividends and that when choosing an agency to undertake usability research, you should look for one that has a broad range of ideas and is willing to hold you to account.

It is the latter point we wish to delve into further today, namely the instance of designers who have difficulty accepting feedback. Once again, this isn’t the case for all web designers – some of who are more than willing to see their efforts picked apart and critiqued, secure in the knowledge that it will improve the website experience for the user – but we have come across those who request an expert review and, when delivered, largely ignore the proposals within. This suggests they aren’t actually interested in improving the usability of their product, but only in getting validation for the design decisions they’ve made.

As we’ve stated previously, challenges should be welcomed and the beauty of an expert review is that it is a cheap way of instilling new ideas and best practice thinking into designs, ironing out the obvious issues before undertaking a more intensive programme of usability testing.

The flip side to this comes with how the expert review makes its case. The reviewer needs to understand that the designer has probably put a lot of time and work into their design and to simply dismantle it in a manner that takes few prisoners – no matter how justified or deeply rooted the problems may be – isn’t going to win them over. It isn’t a character assassination, after all.

Some hard and fast rules that the person carrying out the expert review should follow when writing up their report, include:

  • Avoid personalising the criticism – The design is key, not the designer
  • Leave personal opinions at the door – The report is about how the user(s) would approach and engage with the design, not the expert. Stick to the personas when conducting the review and qualify all criticism, negative and positive
  • Remain impartial – The website or app is there to serve a specific purpose and achieve a pre-defined business goal. The expert shouldn’t allow personal feelings toward either of these cloud their judgement
  • Be tactful – The designer or design team are human; they didn’t set out to create something that handles like a brick and sends users running for the air raid shelter. An expert review should always consider how they might feel when delivering criticism.

Being challenged is good. It allows you to take on ideas you might not previously have considered. That is the whole point of an expert review. Implementing them will improve the usability and overall experience for the user, which, at the end of day, is what counts.

If you need to improve the usability of your website or app, an expert review can set the ball rolling. For more information, contact us  today on +44(0)800 0246 247, or email

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