Using video for design feedback

Getting design feedback can be tricky.

Everyone knows you shouldn’t just send a mockup and ask what do you think? But in an age of online meetings, Sketch, Figma, Invision and whatever else, how do you get away from that?

Introducing video

On the Boagworld podcast, Leigh Howells talks about presenting designs through video. He says this tackles a few common issues:

  1. Anyone watching the video can’t see the design without hearing the commentary. Though this is technically possible, they’re more likely to listen to commentary than read a long email.
  2. This extends to comps passed on to people outside the project team. Even if you take the time to explain a comp to someone, there’s nothing to stop a client forwarding that onto someone with a no context “whaddya think?”
  3. If there’s anything demonstrated in a browser, it lets you present quick code mockups in a browser that you know works. This reduces the chance of a key decision maker loading your demo in IE5 and asking why it doesn’t work.

First attempts

I’ve been experimenting with this idea on-and-off for a while.

Initially, I was recording my screen and uploading to Vimeo.

Don’t do this unless you like dealing with:

Urgh.

I now use Loom and it’s brilliants:

Presenting initial ideas

Taking the lead from Howells’ method, I’ve started using video to present all initial design ideas.

Starting with wireframes, I’ll send a video that talks through the decisions I’ve made and the considerations behind them. I might also discuss ideas that didn’t make the cut and why. Demonstrating this through video is really straightforward.

Introducing video so early in the process gets the client used to receiving design ideas in that format. When we move to higher fidelity mockups, video really comes into its own.

Mockups

At this stage, I’ll start by covering everything we’ve done so far:

Going over this helps clients to understand how the mockups have come about. The designs shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

The video format lets me discuss colour, type, layout and other design ideas in context. That can be difficult in other formats.

It also allows me to address potential objections before they’re raised. Demonstrating why the logo isn’t bigger, possibly by resizing it on-screen in the video, can be incredibly powerful.

Addressing feedback

It can be difficult to describe usability or accessibility issues in an easily understood manner. I find that using video helps clients understand much more easily, and it reduces any feeling that it’s just an excuse.

If you’ve ever had clients ask you to centre/justify paragraphs of text, or use illegibly light grey text, you’ll know that these can be difficult arguments to win. Even if video doesn’t change the result, it can help clients understand in a way they couldn’t before.

Other benefits

Once a client has seen a demonstration, I’ll send them a link to the Balsamiq/Invision project. These apps are great for feedback, but there is still a (small) learning curve.

The video format lets me quickly explain how these interfaces work, helping clients feel confident to add feedback in the app.

Another side effect of video is that the service feels much more personal. Every client I’ve done this with has loved receiving the videos, being talked through the process and the decision making.

In turn, that helps to get clients on board and become advocates for the work you’re doing. In my experience, at least.

None of these things are exclusive to presenting through video, but I’ve found it to be an incredibly effective way to communicate with clients.