From Nick Pettit at Treehouse: I attended a high school that has an amazing visual arts program. We would regularly produce artwork, put it on the wall, and then gather around to say what we liked and didn’t like. More importantly, we would explain why we felt that way. This structured feedback is called critique. The younger students would often take it personally and sometimes cry hysterically, but it was for the best, because after a few years they would start to produce stellar work and provide excellent feedback. At the time, I didn’t really think about the broader applications of critique beyond traditional art, but it’s incredibly valuable for building durable careers and companies.
Critique is a method for analyzing subjective ideas with the intention of discovering good qualities and areas that can be improved. In other words, critique is a synonym for “constructive criticism” or “giving feedback.” In a professional creative setting, such as a web design agency, it’s an essential skill to master. Creatives and non-creatives have to give feedback to one another regularly, and if that feedback is blended with too much ambiguity or tense emotions, the work environment can become a toxic cocktail of contempt.
Just like there’s good and bad science, there’s good and bad critique. It’s difficult to perfectly define “good” critique, because that only comes with practice, but here are some basic guidelines that can help.