Reviewers’ Overview & Guide



AIGA Raleigh is happy to announce that the 2014 AIGA Raleigh Student Portfolio Review is scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 12th at Red Hat in downtown Raleigh (100 E. Davie Street).  As a participant, each student will receive a constructive, one-on-one evaluation of their work from a variety of design professionals located in the Triangle area.

Portfolio Review Agenda | Saturday, April 12 at Red Hat:
9:30–10:30 am  Student Check-In and Networking
10:30–11 am Introductory Remarks and Keynote Speaker
11 am Reviewers Check-In, Networking & Hors D’oeuvres
11–11:30 am Student Lunch, provided by AIGA Raleigh
11:30 am–1:30 pm Portfolio Reviews
1:30–2 pm Recap with the Pros

Reviewers please arrive promptly at 11 am on the 9th floor of Red Hat. You will receive your personalized Review schedule at that time. After you receive your schedule, you will be able to network with fellow professionals and enjoy refreshments. Following networking, each reviewer will provide a one-on-one evaluation (approx. 25 minutes each) with four individual students. Lastly, the Directors of the event will pose questions that recap design expectations and characteristics of a junior designer.

Parking is available near Red Hat in two parking decks: Blount St. Deck, and City Center Deck. There is also parking in the City Market Parking Lot. For parking deck/lot addresses, pricing, and more information, please visit their respective sites.

Review Guide:

1. Maintain respect and honesty:
It may be tough, at times, to provide constructive criticism. However, please know that each student has devoted a lengthy amount of time into developing their work. Keeping respect at the forefront, be honest about your thoughts — being the “nice guy” doesn’t allow room for growth. It’s important for you to feel comfortable being truthful while allowing each designer to understand why a certain element is not working. Be tactful. Be respectful. Be honest.

2. Use the hamburger method:
Providing feedback via the “hamburger method” is a framework  that establishes an environment of support, not one of personal attack. This also helps reduce anxiety that students may have while presenting their work. Here is how it’s done: when viewing each piece, begin with the positive. What works? What makes it effective? Why does it work? Then, provide constructive criticism and feedback. What isn’t working? What could be done differently? Why? Lastly, end on a positive note. The student/designer should leave feeling motivated to push through additional revisions of their work.

3. Be specific–avoid vague words and phrases:
More often than not, we have a tendency to use phrases such as, “That’s super cool” or “I like that idea.” These words and phrases aren’t specific enough to provide answers on what elements may or may not be working in a design. Dig deeper and be descriptive about your thoughts — “Have you thought about increasing the type size of the headline? This may assist with the lack of hierarchy” or “I’m unsure about the use of orange – perhaps maroon or red would evoke a better sense of energy and confidence.” When delivering your feedback, remember that the more detailed you are, the better.

4. Inquire about their thought process and approach:
It’s important to understand the process and approach the student/designer was taking, as well as the context of the project – inquire about each of them. This allows your feedback and insight to increase its relevance and meaning. Talk through each of these areas with one another, and the Review will immediately turn into a helpful discussion and platform for collaboration. In turn, the action items noted from the Review are much more direct and the results will be increasingly effective.

5. Ask why:
Focusing on “why” is a fundamental component of a design critique. In the working world, designers are consistently responsible for their decisions and must be able to give reason for their approach. Asking “why” is a good rule of thumb that leads to new perspectives, and unlocks unanswered questions. “Why did you choose the orange over the red or maroon?” or “Why did you feel that type size was appropriate for the headline?” Posing these questions opens up the door of communication from both perspectives. Asking “why” does two things – allows the student/designer to roadmap their decision process as well as providing the reviewer with a better understanding of the design.

6. Offer suggestions that are actionable items:
While your suggestions may not be the absolute answer to the problem, offer feedback that is action specific yet includes a variety of possible solutions. “Orange is not working as red evokes a stronger sense of energy and confidence. However, red may not be the definite answer. That’s only one idea. What about maroon?” This allows the student/designer to ultimately be responsible for making their own  decisions and choosing the route that leads the design to success.

Internal Questions to Ignite Conversation:
– What is your initial impression of the design?
– Is all content present? If not, what is missing?
– What is the overall aesthetic effect? Does it feel appropriate for the target audience?
– What emotions does it evoke?
– Does the style of the design directly align with the goal or purpose?
– Are their brand standards that should be used? Are they used appropriately?
– Do the elements in the layout seem to be in an appropriate location?
– Does the content flow in a natural order and progression? How does your eye flow across the piece?
– Is the solution easy to use and interact with?
– Are typographic choices relevant and fitting in tone?
– Are color choices suitable for the desired message?
– In what way would the target audience respond to this solution?
– Are the details in the graphic elements tailored to the purpose of the project?
– What problem areas are present? What holes need to be filled as they could be more effective?
– Is it visually appealing for the context that it will live in?

If you have additional questions about preparing for the Portfolio Review, please contact Kristin Fowler or Rich Griffis
By Kristin Fowler
Published March 6, 2014