There are quite a few tools and apps that come to mind when you think about design critique. There’s Red Pen, Invision, Bounce by Zurb, Dribbble, Dropbox, Google Drive. The list goes on and on. But there’s one app you probably have on your phone right now that can be great for design critique. Which app is it?
Yes, that Snapchat. You may be wondering how in the world Snapchat can be used for anything other than sending selfies and showing your friends what you’re eating, which song you’re singing along to in the car and the band you’re watching.
I’ll admit, the first time I used Snapchat for design critique, I wasn’t a big fan. It was small and it went away quickly. I couldn’t get a closer look or stare at it for a long time to see all the details. Then I realized that that is why it’s such a useful tool.
In the real world, your audience isn’t going to stop what they’re doing and stare at whatever it was that you designed. In the real world, you only get a few seconds to draw your audience in and tell them what you need to tell them. In this aspect, Snapchat is a great tool to see how well you’re communicating the message that you’re trying to convey. If you do it right, you can get some great feedback to help make your design great. Here are a few things you need to do the get good critique with Snapchat.
1. Turn the Camera Around
Many people don’t know this, but Snapchat doesn’t only use the forward-facing camera on your phone to take selfies. If your camera is in selfie mode, make sure to turn it around so that you’re using your rear-facing camera to easily frame and take a photo of your work. You don’t want to accidentally send an image of your face to get critiqued; you may or may not want to hear what your friends have to say (trust me).
2. Frame Your Shot
Depending on what you’re working on, this can a bit tricky. You want to get as much of the full design in photo while still making sure your text is legible. If you need to, you can focus on a certain section or part of your design and send a few different snaps to get feedback on it.
You also want to take the lighting into account. Usually, shooting something off a computer screen works well. If you’re shooting something that isn’t backlit, like a printed piece of paper or a sketchbook, try to put it close to a window. If it’s dark, switch the flash on your camera on. Just be mindful of the glare if the surface of your design is reflective.
3. Write a Message
Snapchat obviously isn’t the place for detailed design critique, so you want to be clear what type of feedback you’re looking for. As I mentioned earlier, Snapchat is only really useful for seeing how well your design communicates the message you’re trying to convey. Add a simple message that says “what do you see?” so that you’re giving people a direction to go with their critique.
4. Send It
This part is critical. Once you’ve shot the photo and added that message, it’s time to push the arrow and send your snap on its way. Before you send it to anyone, though, make sure that you’ve got the time set to ten seconds. It would be a little difficult to critique a design in much less than that, so make sure you’re allowing enough time.
You also want to make sure that your message isn’t covering up any critical parts of the design. You may want to think about where the message will go as you frame your shot.
5. Pick Some Friends
The great thing about Snapchat is a lot people use it. This means you can get critique from your friends who are designers and your friends who aren’t designers at the same time. Getting feedback from both of these groups is valuable because designers will generally see things differently than non-designers.
Pick a few designers whose opinions you trust, as well as some non-designer friends who would be willing to give you some honest feedback. This probably wouldn’t be a good snap to add to your story, so leave that box unchecked and send your snap out for critique.
6. Follow Up
You’ll get some snaps back with critique, so make sure to write those down. This is Snapchat so you won’t get a second chance to look at the feedback you’ve gotten. Once you’ve got the initial round of feedback, it’s a good idea to either text your friends a photo of the design (if you want to keep it all on your phone) or drop the design in Red Pen, Bounce or another feedback tool to get more in-depth critique. At the very least, you’ll want to text your friends to get a little more in-depth feedback than what Snapchat allows.
Snapchat is by no means the best or only way to get critique on your work, but it does work really well for certain situations and can get you some valuable feedback. So next time you need to make sure your design is communicating the right thing, try Snapchat. But first, take a selfie.