Client Tip #2: Dealing with Feedback

Client feedback can go a couple different ways, but we all know how to deal with good feedback: “Thank you! I’m so glad you like it!” However, and unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Clients seem to feel it’s their duty to provide critical feedback. After all, you contract covers revisions, so they must take advantage of that; it would be a waste of money if they didn’t. But I’m here to tell you that even “bad” feedback can be easily transformed into good feedback.

Much like my previous post on how to say no to your clients, it’s really all about gauging the actual desires and responding calmly and professionally. Let’s take the following example:

“Can you make the logo bigger? And can we adding 20 pixels of space to the right of the text, 10 pixels on the top of the text, 12 pixels to the left of the text and completely remove all space from the bottom of the text? Also, I think the font is sloppy, so we should do something about that. Try comic sans.”

It sounds like this is an insane request, but I’ve gotten feedback like this before. Basically, the client is just trying to take charge and be as specific as possible to ensure their final design is what works best for them. The process for responding to this is a lot like the process described in the first client tip post, with a few variations.

Respond When You Can Respond Calmly

Hearing negative feedback or oddly specific feedback about your design can be very difficult. After all, you’ve probably spent a good 30 hours on this design and they’ve managed to skip over all the positives and focused on something you feel is not even correct. So it’s important to give yourself time to digest the information and only respond to it when you can respond calmly. Try to distance yourself from the design and see it through the client’s eyes. Responding when you’re still riled up from their comments can only lead to disaster, so be sure you’re ready to respond when you do.

Find the Underlying Desires

In the example above, my perception that they are trying to draw more attention to their company name, add some more space around the body text to allow for easier and more relaxed reading, and perhaps are having a hard time reading the text due to either the rendering on their computer or the size or type. Understanding that their basic desires include trying to provide a better viewing experience for their users is a huge part of the battle. With this information I can respond calmly to their newly transformed very reasonable requests.

Do the Research

After you’ve determined their true desires, research whether their suggestions are going to be helpful to actually accomplish these desires. Will making the logo larger draw more attention or distract? Why? Is there room for more padding? How much more? What might be a good compromise? Is the font appropriate for the type of website? What might be an alternative font? Understanding the facts will be incredibly helpful when you go to respond to their comments; it’s going to be your backup and factual reasoning.

Respond to the Underlying Desires, Not the Comments

If you attempt to respond to the comments themselves, you’re just going to get upset again. So I’ve found it very useful to respond, instead, to the desires I’ve determined, incorporating the facts I’ve recovered. So, to the example above, I would respond as follows:

“Hi Client,

I agree that the logo could be a little more attention grabbing, but I’m concerned that making it too much bigger might create a distraction from your content, which is ultimately where you’re going to want their focus to be. With this in mind, I’ve made it only a little bit bigger to try to maintain the attention/distraction level appropriately.

With regards to the padding around the body text, I agree that it might be a bit more relaxing to the eye to have some more space around the edges. However, it’s important to maintain an equally padded and balanced look around the body text, so rather than add those specific pixels amounts, I’ve added a standard 10 pixels around the entire edge.

Finally, while I disagree with your assessment that the text is “sloppy,” I agree that a more formal font might portray a more professional look and feel across the entire site, so I’ve modified the font from a sans-serif to a serif font, hopefully taking care of that issue for you. However, if you still feel the font could be improved, feel free to give me a call to discuss as this could be because of your computer’s rendering of the font or the settings on your browser.

Once you take a look, let me know what you think about these changes. Of course, feel free to call me with any question or concerns.


Notice that I’ve started by agreeing with them. Find a point with which you can agree and compliment your client on their ability to pin point an issue. When delivering “bad news” (your disagreement), we like to hear compliments first; it softens the blow of the criticism. Follow it up with another small compliment and asking their thoughts. This reminds them that you value their feedback and opens a dialogue to discuss changes rather than put the entire decision-burden on their shoulders.


Essentially, you should try to see the changes not as specific changes, but underlying needs, respond to those, and try to maintain a friendly, yet professional open line of communication. In this way, you’ll create a platform on which changes can be discussed and you and your client can work together successfully to create the best design possible for them.