13 Tips to Give and Receive Feedback Like a Pro

1. Plan Ahead

The best way to deal with negative feedback is to avoid it altogether! How do you do that? Get or give as much information as you can upfront. Both parties should understand the goals of the project.

It’s also helpful to show similar examples of the intended final product to get a sense of an aesthetic that you both can agree to. Get specific with questions and responses to ensure you both are on the same page.

2. Listen First

In the middle of receiving feedback, it can be tempting to butt in and defend your work. Often this means that you’re not really giving yourself the opportunity to hear what’s being said.

Instead, don’t agree or disagree. Take notes while the other person is talking to ensure that you can revisit the thoughts later. Once they are done with everything, then you can go back and address the areas that concern you.

3. Ask Questions

Sometimes you may not understand why a note is being given. Instead of assuming that a piece of feedback isn’t a good idea, make sure you have a complete understanding of why your client or co-worker is giving the note.

Is it simply an aesthetic issue, or is there something else behind it that may be industry-specific? Perhaps a certain color or image choice you made looks a lot like a competitors’, which you may not be aware of.

4. Explain Your Note

On the other side of the table, you want to ensure that you are fully explaining why you are giving each piece of feedback. For instance, you may ask that they change certain colors, but make sure the designer understands that’s because the design feels a little dull and you want to liven it up.

This can give them the opportunity to suggest a change that might be even better than the one you had. Maybe the graphic can be better improved by changing out the photos rather than altering the colors.

5. Start and End with the Positive

Let’s face it: no one likes to hear that they’re doing something wrong. Starting off with critical comments can often make the person on the receiving end go on the defensive. This does no one any good.

Instead, you can increase the likelihood that your comments are actually heard by focusing on what you liked first, and then delving into the problems. When you’re done, go back to those positive things to remind the recipient of your feedback how much you do appreciate their work, opinion, and expertise.

6. Pick Your Battles

You won’t always see eye-to-eye with the person giving or receiving feedback. It’s important to remember that different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong.

Don’t fight every little thing that you disagree with. Instead, focus on the issues that aren’t just a matter of taste but are actually poor decisions for the project, such as making a site too text heavy or drawing attention away from the key element of a graphic.

7. Remember You are on the Same Team

And that’s worth reminding the other person. The objective is to get the best possible work, and you can only get there by working together. So keep an open mind and listen!

8. Suggest an Alternative

If you don’t agree with feedback you are receiving, don’t outright ignore it. Instead, find out the reason behind the note (as we mentioned earlier!) and offer other solutions to address it. You can even provide visual examples of what you want to do in order to make it easier for the other person to understand what you mean.

9. Remember You are Dealing with People, No Two are Alike

Some people are better able to visualize than others. If you’re having trouble communicating in words what you want to do, you may find that you have an easier time if you actually show them a rough version instead. Others may be more moved by sharing statistics and studies that back what you have to say.

Try different methods until you find one that works.  The same is true when receiving feedback – you can always ask that the person give it to you in a way that you can better understand it.

10. Talk About It

It’s easier than ever to send an email and call it a day, but often this isn’t enough. For minor changes, it can be sufficient, but especially if you and the other person aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the project overall, actually talking about it can allow for better communication.

Speaking on the phone can work, but often being in person, where you can both look at and point directly to what you are talking about, is the best option.

11. Always Look to the Client’s Needs for Guidance

Ultimately, you need to meet the client’s needs even if you don’t like the final result. However, that’s not to say that you should simply say yes to every demand. After all, they hired you for your expertise and experience, so don’t be afraid to speak up and offer advice. Just remember that, in the end, it’s not your project, it’s your client’s.

12. Set Expectations About Revisions in Advance

If you let it, discussing and addressing feedback can be an endless process, so you need to let your client know in advance where you draw the line, particularly if you provided a “per project” fee rather than hourly. Does the quote you provided include one revision, or will you continue to tweak it until it’s absolutely perfect?

Probably it’s somewhere in between, and professionals include this language in their contract to ensure that the client fully understands what he or she is purchasing. Always allow for your client to purchase more of your time at an hourly rate beyond the project fee if necessary, and include how much that rate would be in the contract as well.

13. Don’t Get Caught Up in Jargon

This may make you think like you sound like a pro, but in reality, you might just be confusing your client – and that’s not professional. Use clear language, and try different ways of explaining the same concept if your client seems confused. When possible, learn the jargon of their industry, so you can better speak their language!

The heart of giving or getting feedback effectively is to be constructive. Your goal should always be that you both walk away from the interaction feeling like you understand what the other person was saying and that you had the opportunity to be heard. Ultimately, this will result in the best final product.

Share some other tips that have helped you in your feedback sessions with clients in the comments sections or on our Twitter feed @designinstruct

Comprehensive Multi-Channel Conversion Reporting in Google Analytics

Now that Google Analytics has blessed us with the Multi-Channel Funnel reports, you’ve got unprecedented access to your website visitors. But how do you segment this traffic effectively?

I’ve developed the following “Comprehensive” report to break it down. Don’t use this or exact revenue or traffic reporting, but rather for resource allocation. As in, “Should we put more money towards SEO or Facebook next year?”

Let’s have at it!

Getting Started

Go to the New Version of Google Analytics.

Under the Conversions tab at the left, click on Assisted Conversions.

The “Basic Channel Grouping” will appear, with all of the default Organic Search, Paid Advertising, Email, etc. channel groupings:

Go to the Channel Groupings blue link right below the graph. Click on “Copy Basic Channel Grouping template”.

This gives you Google’s default template. Now the fun begins!

Here’s the master list you’ll be going for:

You’ll need to edit most of the default groupings. But you can leave some the way they are.

*I’ve provided text copies of the form fields below each screenshot so you don’t have to type them in!

Creating Each Channel

1. (not provided)

This filters organic traffic where Google blocks the keyword. We want to remove this first because it can pollute the unbranded organic reports.

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. (not provided)
  2. google

2. Organic – Unbranded

This only displays traffic excluding your brand name. You’ll have to create a custom regular expression here that you will use in a couple other channels.

So take the lowest common denominator of your brand name and any popular products or people bringing in search traffic. We’ll use WebpageFX, Bill Craig (our President), and SEO Checker, and any searches for “.com” for this example. Here’s that regular expression:


This regular expression matches anything containing webp OR craig OR crawler OR .com (with the . escaped), so theoretically anyone that has heard about us before.

Make a similar one based on your traffic, and have it ready.

For our Organic – Unbranded report, we want to EXCLUDE keywords matching this regular expression and INCLUDE the organic medium.

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. organic
  2. (your regex)

3. Organic – Branded

This is the same configuration as Organic – Unbranded, but we’re INCLUDING the branded traffic, rather than excluding it. Scott has pointed out that this step is unnecessary because any keywords not matching Organic – Unbranded would necessarily fall in this group. But I like symmetry 🙂

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. organic
  2. (your regex)

4. Paid – Display

We want to pull out our Google Display ads before we get into the rest of the paid traffic so it doesn’t mess with the unbranded reports. This example just pulls ads on Google’s Display Network, as that’s the one we use most often.

Fields to copy and paste:


5. Paid – Unbranded

Use the same nifty regular expression you wrote for the Organic Channels. Google’s Basic Channel Grouping – Paid Advertising regular expression is awesome and captures all of the “cost per -” acronyms you can think of! So we’ll use that while excluding branded traffic.

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. ^(cpc|ppc|cpm|cpv|cpa|cpp)$
  2. (your regex)

6. Paid – Branded

Exact same as above except INCLUDE the branded traffic. Again, I like symmetry!

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. ^(cpc|ppc|cpm|cpv|cpa|cpp)$
  2. (your regex)

7. Direct

You shouldn’t need to touch this one. Google’s default Direct grouping gets it right.

Fields to copy and paste (if needed):

  1. (direct)
  2. (not set)
  3. (none)

8. Email

This one captures any traffic marked as Email. If you’re not using custom Google Analytics tracking codes in your email marketing, start!

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. email|eblast|newsletter (or however your email marketing is tagged)

9. Referral

Once again, Google’s default grouping gets it right.

Fields to copy and paste (if needed):

  1. referral

10. Twitter

We want to take out Twitter and Facebook traffic from all of the other Social Networks. So go into the purple Social Networks default channel grouping and copy out the Facebook and Twitter definitions that Google has already provided, and paste them somewhere.

Then paste them back into their own channel grouping to separate that traffic:

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. ^(.*\.)?twitter\.com$

11. Facebook

Same with Facebook as with Twitter. Now if you’re running Facebook ads or specific promotions on Facebook, I would tag your URLs with custom Analytics code and create a separate channel for that. Because this will include ALL traffic from Facebook, paid or not.

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. ^(.*\.)?facebook\.com$

12. Other Social Networks

This grouping, minus the deleted Facebook and Twitter, will match Google’s default exactly. You shouldn’t have to do anything but rename this one if you did steps 10 and 11 right.

Fields to copy and paste:

WAY too many!

13. Feed

If you’re running shopping feeds and tracking them via a custom URL, this will display it for you. Have I mentioned to start tracking outside advertising with custom Google Analytics tracking codes?

Fields to copy and paste:

  1. feed

One more thing: Set other traffic as source/medium

This sets any traffic not matched by our above rules as a source/medium. You’ll be able to see which of your traffic channels are not covered, then create custom segments based on those!

Save Channel Grouping and Voila!

Now you can see which channels drove the most Assisted and Last Interaction conversions, so you can allocate accordingly for 2012:

*Note: you’ll be able to view conversion values. I removed them for the client I used as an example.

Happy testing!