Asking your peers for design feedback sucks and you know it

No matter what drives us - be it a hunger for recognition or a need for validation - there is an undeniable uneasiness that comes with requesting feedback from peers through asynchronous channels, particularly on Slack.

Bartek Pierzchała
Product Designer

Ain't nobody got time for feedback

Let's face it, we're all busy. So busy, in fact, that there's simply no time for feedback. It's a harsh reality, but one we can't ignore.

When you turn to Slack for feedback, you're at the mercy of your colleagues' schedules. They might be knee-deep in their own projects with no mental space to spare for your request. As much as they might like you, they would click "Skip" if your question was a Netflix show intro.

And it gets worse. If you haven't taken the time to ask a clear and specific question, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Sending a Figma link with a generic plea for feedback will only result in one thing: some feedback. It's often a mishmash of design suggestions that may not even address the actual problem you're trying to solve. It's a waste of time, to say the least.

We don't practice what we preach

As UI or UX designers, we often emphasize the importance of designing clear and concise call-to-action buttons that instruct users on the next desired action. We even share articles on UX writing to dive deeper into the topic. However, when it comes to asking for design feedback, we tend to abandon this knowledge and hope our colleagues magically understand what we need.

Ironically, Hick's Law, so famous in UX, says that the time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices**.** It means the more screens you're hurling toward your colleagues on your Slack feedback channel, the harder you make it for them to help you.

The curse of the first comment

Let's imagine you asked for feedback publicly and took the time to be as precise as possible. Great! Now just pray that the first person to post a comment stays on topic. Why? Because the first person to comment on your work sets the tone for a critique. Whatever they say, it will subliminally influence everyone who comes after them. That first comment has the power to divert attention away from the problem at hand and instead fixate on aesthetics or, heaven forbid, design suggestions! As a result, instead of finding a solution to your issue, you might end up with a whole new set of problems to tackle!

To vote or not to vote

Sometimes designers post two or three contrasting design options on Slack in the hope that their peers will help settle which option is better and why. This can also take the form of a "poll" where designers are encouraged to voice their preferences using emojis. However, this makeshift polling feature in Slack is, to say the least, flawed. It’s highly biased because you always see how the majority of your team is voting. Even worse, you can preview how specific individuals voted. It's hard to resist the urge to hover over that emoji score to peek into who voted for what. After all, as original as we are, we don't want to stand out too much, right? Right?

The mechanisms of self-censorship

When sharing our designs with a number of peers, we might expect a number of opinions. We look forward to those diverse perspectives that will help us evaluate our designs and move on. However, public channels on Slack or Discord don't foster a culture of diversity due to a lack of anonymity. Sometimes individuals in positions of authority have the power to stifle valid opposing opinions from the rest of the team, unintentionally.

Imagine a scenario where a highly respected designer within your company shares their design feedback with confidence, causing you to question your own taste and abilities. In an attempt to avoid confrontation, we often find ourselves compromising and refraining from sharing our genuine thoughts. We censor ourselves. Consequently, the original designer never truly gets the opportunity to hear your honest point of view. This dynamic simply amplifies the opinion of the most popular or respected person, which creates an imbalance in the feedback loop.

A jar of suggestions

While we can't really change human nature, we've developed a simple tool that battles bias and self-censorship while being prompt and time-efficient at the same time.

Over the past year, we have conducted design preference tests among designers exclusively within our own app, Pickle. There, you can upload 2 design options that you're stuck on, harnessing the collective wisdom of your peers to guide you toward the better choice. To nurture independent thought, Pickle keeps votes hidden until you vote first. As a reward for sharing your thoughts, all votes are revealed so you get to see who else agrees with your taste and expertise. It's a practice we wholeheartedly recommend to anyone seeking improvement in internal dilemma-solving solutions.

We're still sharing our work on Slack to create a central repository of what's happening at our company. However, Pickle has significantly improved our collaboration and problem-solving processes. With Pickle in place, we no longer rely on our peers to sift through our work – if we’re facing a dilemma we want help with it's all easily accessible and organized.

And the great news? We’re finally bringing Pickle to the forefront, making it available for everyone, everywhere, completely free! We hope to transform the way people solve their pickles :) Join the community!


Don’t mention design tokens near him or you’ll get a (free!) lecture. A true 10x Product Designer who always starts with ‘why’.

Bartek Pierzchała
Product Designer
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tonik here — a design studio focused on early stage startups, helping founders define, design and build products.

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