Good critique

Critique is a time tested design technique for quickly gathering feedback about a product, especially when decisions about the final form of that product are still possible. You can see what graphic designers have to say about good critique here.

With technology so deeply woven into our daily lives, it must succeed as design, and so computer science must begin to considering technology from a design perspective. For this reason, we will regularly critique class projects. I will certainly offer my thoughts, as will any visitors. But please also feel free to offer your own spoken critique; it is an excellent way to earn participation credit, and the diversity of opinion will only strengthen the projects.

Here are some basics for offering good critique:
  • Be helpful: offer specific constructive suggestions for improvement.
  • Recognize success: tell presenters what they're doing right, so they can stick with it.
  • Point out weaknesses: it can be difficult to do so, but it's important to point out what isn't working, so presenters can fix it.
  • Be kind: this is less of a problem than being honest about project weaknesses, but be nice. Our projects aren't competitive, and mean isn't okay.
Class time is too short to allow everyone to offer verbal critique. For this reason we expect all of you to post short written critiques on our course forum, and record them on our log. I find it easiest to do this during the presentation itself, using my phone. A good format is the "criticism sandwich":
  • Describe what you like about the project 
  • Describe the project weaknesses, and how they might be improved 
  • Identify your favorite aspect of the project 
One logistical note: please make sure you identify the project you're critiquing both in text, and using the project tag indicated on our course project page