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Presenting and Critiquing Design

Presenting and Critiquing Design

A quick set of guidelines for students doing a design crit, particularly for games.


Sebastian Deterding

September 29, 2019


  1. Presenting and Critiquing Design Image: Jordan, flickr.com/photos/jordesign/3619404268/, by-nc-nd

  2. “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a

    way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” – Charles Ormond Eames, Jr.
  3. Good designers can explain every design choice from their purpose

    and plan.
  4. Good critique evaluates every design choice from its purpose and

  5. Critique is an effort on two fronts: receiving and giving.

  6. Critique is not about you.* It is about understanding and

    improving how the choices so far support the design’s purpose and plan. * The receiver or giver
  7. Receiving Critique Set up the critique Have your words and

    design ready. Set out what kind of critique you want on what parts of your design ☺ Good “This session is to improve the dramatic flow of the intro trailer of our game Bandits.” [Points at trailer storyboard pinned to wall] ☹ Bad “Oh, my turn. O-kaaaaaay … [shuffles paper] so Bandits is a game where – we have cool multiplayer and ...”
  8. Receiving Critique Listen, don’t defend or show off Remember: The

    purpose is to improve the design. Be honest. Be humble. Take notes. Thank. ☺ Good “That’s a good point, I didn’t see that.” [makes a note] ☹ Bad “No! You won’t be able to understand this, but this will totally rock!”
  9. Receiving Critique Don’t design in the meeting Making design decisions

    is your prerogative – and it requires weighing all input. This takes pressure from you and the others. ☺ Good “That’s a good point.” [makes a note] ☹ Bad “Hm, but then … You could … What if … No … Okay, let’s go with your suggestion.”
  10. A Template for Presenting Design 1. State your purpose What

    emotions, thoughts, actions did you aim for? 2. Explain your plan What approach did you take to achieve that? 3. Talk us through your product Point and explain how the individual parts of your design support your purpose and plan.
  11. A Template for Receiving Critique 1. Set up the critique

    State the rules and what critique you want on what. 2. Direct the process Manage the order of speakers; keep them on topic. 3. Clarify the feedback Don’t assume. Ask. Re-state. 4. Note and thank Take notes. Thank people. 5. Close the critique Summarise main points. Thank. Adjourn.
  12. Giving Critique Speak to help, not to hurt or show

    off Before you speak, ask yourself: Do these words avoid hurting? Are they practically helpful? If not, rephrase. ☺ Good “The text at the bottom seems hard to read because of the thin font. Maybe you use a thicker one?” ☹ Bad “That bottom part is just totally sucky.”
  13. Giving Critique Speak about the design, not the person Always

    point and refer to the design. ☺ Good “This section here <points with finger> feels misaligned.” ☹ Bad “You totally don’t know how to align stuff, do you?!?”
  14. Giving Critique First, clarify your understanding Restate what you understood

    – else your critique might miss the point. ☺ Good G: “So the player sees troops from up above?” R: “No, it’s first-person view: the player is another soldier.” ☹ Bad G: “The camera position strikes me as not very immersion- inducing.”
  15. Giving Critique Separate analysis and solution Otherwise, people won’t know

    why you suggest a solution – and cannot come up with an even better one. ☺ Good A: “That red and green is problematic for the color blind. Maybe you make your red brighter for more contrast?” B: “Good idea – or I could switch to blue and yellow.” ☹ Bad “Make your red brighter.”
  16. A Template for Critiquing Design 1. Restate the purpose you

    understood “You want to draw attention to this title …” 2. Restate the plan you understood “… and therefore use this different font ...” 3. Name the design principle you base your critique on “… but to create an effective difference …” 4. Make your observation “… that font still seems too similar to the main text.” (Optional) Suggest a solution “I suggest you also increase the font size.”