How to Give Feedback Like the British

There is a wildly popular show produced in the UK called The Great British Bake Off (or GBBO for short). The show has also been aired in the US under the name The Great British Baking Show. The premise of the show is, over the course of several challenges judged by professionals, the best amateur baker of the group is chosen. The show is judged by two experienced professionals: cookbook writer Mary Berry and professional baker Paul Hollywood.

So, what’s the draw of the show and what does this have to do with B2B web design?

How-to-Give-Feedback-Like-British-Blog-TNFirst, one of the main draws of the show appears to be the general atmosphere of mutual respect and goodwill among the contestants and the judges. Now, how does that relate to web design? Well, the positive, respectful relationship between the amateur bakers and the judges is a great model for all types of business relationships (particularly between client and vendor). The judges are conscientiously working with the bakers to provide feedback that will help them to be better bakers and produce better creations. They aren’t yelling, “Donkey!” or telling them they are terrible humans.

We thought that the show was a great analogy for our most successful B2B web design projects. Our most successful, seamless projects always include great feedback from clients and from our team of professional designers, developers, and marketers.

Let’s take a look at how the British judges on GBBO give feedback and how that can be applied to a website design project.

Polite Feedback

Whether in positively or negatively, the British are stereotyped as always being polite, regardless of the situation. The GBBO show is a great example of providing feedback in a professional, polite, respectful manner.

We’ve all been there: had a bad day, tired, irritated, hate a design, or feel a design is not on track. However, it’s easier to communicate and get a meaningful response when the feedback is delivered in a polite manner. Don’t avoid giving feedback because you don’t like something; simply approach it politely and give the benefit of the doubt.

Rude: “This design sucks and your team didn’t listen. Get to work on a new one ASAP!”

Polite: “We’ve reviewed the designs and would like to discuss our feedback. We don’t think the designs are matching up with our goals for this web design project and we would like to review our objectives with your team.”

Share Thoughtful Insights

In our experience, many people struggle with giving feedback. This isn’t an indication of their intelligence or business acumen. In many cases, it’s not something people need to do often so they haven’t honed that feedback skill. Rather than simply stating something doesn’t work or you don’t like it, it’s more effective to share the why behind the statement.

On the GBBO show, the judges are always specific and thoughtful in their feedback. If a pastry is soggy on the edges, the judges will comment on it and will explain why that happened. They will also share insights into the impact the soggy edges have on the overall appearance and taste of the pastry.

Vague: “That color doesn’t work for me. Please find a different color.”

Thoughtful: “The red color in the logo is a little overpowering. We’d like the logo to communicate power, but not appear forceful or so bright. Our mantra is stealth power.”

Be Honest

This seems like a common sense statement, but it can be a struggle to get honest feedback regarding a web design. There is a range of reasons why clients and designers won’t provide honest feedback. The reasons vary from not wanting to hurt a person’s feelings, to being unsure how to communicate, to not feeling comfortable sharing honest feedback. The biggest issue of not providing honest feedback throughout the process is that the end result won’t be a winner.

If there is one thing to learn from the British judges, it’s that honest feedback is the best way to help a person succeed and get a great finished product. On the show, the judges aren’t afraid to commend a baker when they excel at a challenge and they aren’t shy about providing honest feedback. Being honest about both positive and negative feedback ensures you and your web design agency are on the same page. Withholding information only sets the project up for failure.

Dishonest: “Yeah, so the homepage design looks fine.”

Honest: “The homepage design needs to be modified to be more simplistic and clean. Our potential clients are only interested in learning what we can do for them, they don’t care about our awards or past projects.”

Direct & Clear

Never beat around the bush when it comes to feedback. If your feedback doesn’t require setup, it’s ok to get right to the point. In many cases, both you and the web design agency you work with are very busy, so direct and clear feedback is always appreciated.

When watching the Baking Show, we see the judges get right to the point about what is working or not working about the baker’s product. The judges aren’t there to make friends and make the bakers feel good; they are there to provide direct feedback. The feedback the judges provide is always clear and actionable. It’s not sugarcoated with extra flattery.

Evasive: “Well, we think overall the design is starting to come together and the colors seem to be a good fit. Your designers have done a super job with creating a nice-looking website. The website layout is ok but we want something different.”

Direct: “The website layout needs to be changed. Remove the image at the top, add a section for testimonials, and take that pale blue out of the color palette.”

Touch on Positives & Negatives

A website design project is really a partnership. In order to create an effective end product, your web design agency needs to know what isn’t working AND what is working! By letting your designer know what you do like and what you don’t like, you are helping them to understand what your vision is for the final B2B website design.

Have you noticed that many American shows that focus on contestants being judged for skills or talents thrive on a lot of negative feedback? There is always the one negative judge who shares harsh criticisms. The GBBO doesn’t follow this type of format, which is likely what makes the show so popular. The judges share negative feedback, but they also share feedback on what is working. Bakers (and digital bakers) need to know what they have done right and what needs to be improved. Never hesitate to share both to contribute to a positive partnership.

All Negative: “The navigation is too big, the blog layout is too cluttered, the images look too flowery, and the CTAs are weak.”

Negative & Positive: “We like the topics covered in the navigation, but we need to pare it down so we don’t overwhelm our users. The blog layout looks cluttered, so we need to add more negative space. We really like the images that are similar to our brand colors and think those flow well on the website.”

Reasonable Expectations

The bakers on the show are amateurs, but they have demonstrated ability in the baking field. Hopefully, you’ve selected a web design company because you like its past projects, approach, and experience. It’s important to set and adhere to reasonable expectations based on your project goals.

The professional baking judges on GBBO have reasonable expectations for the contestants on the show. They don’t expect every challenge to be completed as if the amateur was a professional baker. They do, however, expect to see continual improvement, particularly in regards to the feedback they provide. Contestants are dismissed from the show each week when they don’t meet the minimum expectations of the judges or don’t show any form of improvement.

We are an experienced B2B web design agency, but we don’t expect every one of our designs to hit the mark first time around. We understand that part of the design process includes feedback and revisions. The main thing that a firm undergoing a website redesign needs to understand is that it is reasonable to expect revisions and feedback. As long as the designs are quality and professional, you can work with the design agency to create a website that fits your company’s objectives.

Everyone has their own style of giving feedback, but some methods of providing feedback are more effective. We aren’t telling you to go out and start drinking scones and tea but we do think these are valuable insights on how to provide quality feedback that contributes to the success of a web design project.

What other advice do you have for providing feedback on B2B web design projects?


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