Mikey Allan

Critique Cards

Creating a culture of critique using playful critique cards

Critique is a no brainer right? it’s an essential tool in any creative process. But it’s hard!

When presented with a whole design it’s difficult to quickly evaluate that design against: brand, user needs, typography, balance, colour etc…

Moreover someone with less experience in critique, may worry about feelings. In this example you hear lots of “I like it” or “Yeah it’s really good”. Lovely things to hear but totally useless in terms of feedback.

It’s important to note that critique is not criticism. It’s a stress test on the design not an attack on its creator.

Critique doesn’t have to be an emotionally fuelled, scary thing. It can be objective, fun and more importantly USEFUL. The whole point of critique is to empower and excite the designer to make that piece of work even better.

So what do people need to make critique less hard?

There are two key aspects which are imperative for a culture of critique to thrive.

  • People need to be equipped with the vocabulary to open a design discussion.
  • A safe, open and respectful environment needs to be in place or created, to ensure all voices are heard.

These form the foundations to building confidence in people, so that they can give and receive regular, useful feedback.

Critique Cards

Critique is not exclusive to design. In fact it’s necessary to include different areas of the business into a feedback session. I wanted to help and encourage people new to critique or those not versed in the language of design to “give it a go”.

Critique cards are not new, David De Léon created some excellent critique cards. His questions are great to evaluate some of the bigger aspects of design. I loved this but wanted to add more granularity, to introduce some of the fundamentals of breaking down a design into it’s constituent parts. I wanted to have an easy way in to joining or even starting the conversation.

What are they?

Critique cards are a deck of 50 cards, each with a question focused on an aspect of design. The questions are grouped into specific categories:

  • Brand
  • Content
  • Experience
  • Function
  • Objectives
  • User
  • Visual Language
  • Wild Card

Who are they for?

These cards are primarily aimed at people who don’t have a background in design but want to be involved in the design process. Newly formed teams who want to kick start critique. Anyone really, who would like to introduce critique into their team or company culture.

How do I use them?

There are lots of ways to use them. And it’s completely up to you!

One way is to hand out a card from each category and ask the question on the card. In a few minutes, your piece of work might have a line of questioning that spans a much wider range of perspectives.

Another is to only hand out cards from one or two categories and explore fully that aspect of the design

The key thing is this is NOT prescriptive. It’s about having fun with them and getting people used to asking questions and giving critique regularly.

The end goal is to have a team or culture which embraces critique and regularly performs formal reviews as well as informal desk chats. To appreciate the value that critique can bring and give people the confidence to seek it.

I want a pack!

Lastly if you want to print your very own I’m giving away the Print ready files for FREE!!! Just upload them to Moo and get your very own pack!

If you think these are good but not quite what you’re after, I’m also giving away the source files!!! You can go create your very own critique cards targeted to your team and it’s needs. Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD Print-Ready Files

DOWNLOAD Source files (editable pdf)


Also published on Medium.

Tags: ,