How to Critique Copywriting and Design

Critiquing copywriting and design

Due to the subjective nature of copywriting and design, copywriters and designers have difficult jobs. They get hired for their expertise, tap into their knowledge and experience, and propose a draft. When the response is positive, fantastic. But when businesses offer vague critiques such as, “I don’t like it,” that’s absolutely meaningless, setting the stage for unnecessary frustration, countless revisions, and wasted time for all parties involved.

When you hire with a copywriter or designer, you can eliminate misunderstandings, and achieve effective web copy or design without delays, by following these basic feedback guidelines.

1. Review Content as a Visitor, Not a Business Owner

Review the web copy or design from a customer’s point of view. If the content engages visitors and gets them to act, it’s doing its job. As a business owner, you might want to see mission statements and exec photos. But, keep in mind, if customers don’t care, you shouldn’t either.

2. Be Precise

Provide feedback that’s factual and specific. “It doesn’t differentiate us enough” isn’t overly helpful, but, “these are the three core benefits we need to highlight” definitely is. It’s not productive to keep your copywriter or designer guessing.

3. Limit the Number of Cooks in the Kitchen

Try to assign one person to handle the approval process. Everyone has different preferences with a different take. Approval by committee spawns beauracracy, delays and watered-down results. Plus, it’s bad for your copywriter’s or designer’s heart.

4. Avoid Legalese

Legal departments can kill good web content. Words such as heretofore, whereas, and above-mentioned are stiff and confusing. While some heavily regulated industries require legal reviews, it’s important to keep things simple. How many people who you know get turned on reading lengthy legal contracts?

5. Be Kind

Treat your copywriters and designers with respect, and they’ll give you their best. Even on a professional level, writing and design can be a personal act, so writers and designers can take criticism on a personal level. Be tactful. A great way to deliver rejection is to start with the line, “It’s a good start, but (fill in the blank).”

The Creative Bottom Line

If you grant qualified copywriters and designers freedom to craft marketing material, and provide clear, specific feedback in a respectful manner, they’re more likely to provide effective solutions with optimal results.  Let copywriters write, and designers design. Copywriter and client - Can you feel the love?

3 responses to “How to Critique Copywriting and Design”

  1. Casey Schorr says:

    Great article for business people like myself venturing into the copywriting and freelance world! It’s great to hear what makes your outsourced team happy. Sometimes as business owners I think we forget it’s equally important our contractors are happy with the relationship as well!

  2. Guylaine says:

    Hello Rick,

    I stumbled upon this and you totally got it. I have faced those situations as you might have. The key here is for designer and copywriters is to come up with some questions to help/guide those clients to express what they feel is not working. It has worked for me.


  3. david mills says:

    #5 Yes, there’s no need to be rude. Power trips are unproductive.

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