December is rarely a steady month, usually a slow one for some, or a too-frantic one for others.

Whether you’re stating the new year as a new you or an old you, take a little time out for a design review of some work you did in the closing stages of 2017.

(Note: I prefer “review” over “crit”, as “crit” is sometimes misread as being short for “criticism” and in some people’s minds that’s another work for “attack”. Remove ambiguity from the start.)

I’ve uploaded the slides I usually start from when doing a design review.

The first part is usually intro’d by someone who isn’t leading the review. Set down the tone of “what we’re about to do”: We’re here today to help. It also gives people coming into the room a chance to take a moment, catch their breath.

Then it’s time for the review proper, switching to whoever is leading the review to introduce the review.

Context is everything. It’s important to provide the context of the work: Explain what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, how you’re doing, and even where you’re doing it.

If you need a good five or ten minutes to this, don’t worry. This backgrounding always helps. Don’t presume everyone in the room knows as much as you do about the work you are doing. They won’t.

Two common ways of running through work: On screen or with print-outs on the wall. Both come with their pros and cons.

On-the-wall makes feedback easier and can be a more active session, but comes at the price of a bit more prep time and limited opportunities to go through interactions.

On-screen when you’re making “digital things” means you’re seeing stuff “as made”. If you’re doing it on-screen think about your users: If they tend to use mobiles phones at least narrow the browser. Hook your phone up to a screen. Maybe get your review participants to open your work (as a prototype or whatever) on their phone or two.

If you’re leading the review it’s hard to lead a review and take notes. Think ahead how you’d like feedback and make it clear in the intro. Some people like to get participants to add their thoughts on stickies to a wall as they go along or at the end. Others like to have a “note taker”. There’s no wrong, except don’t rely on just your memory.

The slides are in this Google Slides deck. I hope they’re useful for someone else out there. Let me know if they are for you.

Whether you use these slides or not, it is good to be in the habit of being in regular reviews.

Have fun.