Critique value and methods
On the eve of our first project presentation and critique, it is important to reflect on the value of this critical diaglogue. Critiquing is a critical part of being a designer: besides the personal growth that is fostered by having our own work analyzed, it helps each of us to refine our communication skills and sense of design principles by critiquing the work of others.
The critique helps students to deal openly with criticism while it trains them in the important verbal skills of explaining the reasons behind their solutions. They must go beyond "I like it" or "That stinks." Critiques help students to internalize standards of excellence, to develop a shared vocabulary for discussion, to learn to incorporate useful suggestions from others, and to evaluate their own and others' performances.
Critiques will be incredibly important this semester, accounting for nearly a fourth of each assignment grade. To help you organize your thoughts as you evaluate the work of your classmates and peers, remember the following structure . . .
1. What do you see? Identify design elements (i.e., text, color, focal point) and principles (i.e., balance, symmetry, proportion)
2. What does this mean? How are these elements working together to relate information? What emotional response is it evoking?
3. Is it working? What is the result? Does the meaning correspond to the intent of the designer? What could be changed/modified/enhanced?
Eventually, this process (much like the design process itself) becomes internalized and flows naturally during critiques of all sorts, from informal discussions at a coffee shop to professional design pitches to clients. Feel free to adapt, adjust, and develop your critique style in ways that are appropriate for each particular situation.