Should these kind of questions be allowed? Something like "I've been working on the home page of this website for some time now. I feel all the colors are appropriate, but not sure if the font is suitable. What do you guys think needs improvement?", and similar questions.


3 Answers 3


We recently had a similar discussion about "writing critiques":

Policy Change: Writing Critiques Questions Now Welcome

Following that same logic, I would say that graphic design critiques should also be on topic.

In retrospect, the idea that a site about [graphic design] doesn't allow talking about [graphic design] (except in the rather narrow context of objective question examples) was, uh, a bad one. Yes, all critiques are subjective, but we now allow some subjective topics so long as they are constructive. We think [graphic design] critiques, if properly directed, fit firmly in the "constructive" category.

But keep in mind that the critique request has to be part of a specific, constructive question. In other words, you must tell us:

  • what you were shooting for when you came up with the design
  • specifically what kind of critique feedback you are looking for
  • also, what kinds of critique feedback we should avoid, to set boundaries

You cannot simply throw up a screen shot of your design, type in "What do you think? How can I improve this?" and click submit. Vague requests for feedback should be closed as [not a real question].

Of course, discussion on the topic is welcome.

  • I agree, but only and strictly within the boundaries of what Jeff writes in that linked question under the "What you must tell us:" heading. Also, an interesting issue is rep gain. Is it healthy for users to earn reputation for showing off an awesome design? (I'm not saying it is or is not - I really don't know.)
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 21:59
  • @Pekka: Agreed. I added the "boundaries" to the requirements. That's a large part of "good subjective." Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 3:22
  • @Robert after doing some thinking, I'm not sure whether the rule from writing.SE (which I'm sure is going to work fine for them) can be applied 1:1 to graphic design.SE. I think I'm in the "opposed" camp for now - I find the risk of disappointing some users more acceptable than the risk of being flooded with "how would you improve this menu design?" questions.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 17:25
  • @Pekka: I agree there is a risk and critiques are very localized. If you follow the original post, the stipulation was that designs be posted only in context of a constructive question. My original moratorium against critiques (meta.writers.stackexchange.com/questions/58/…) originally suggested that samples of writing only be used to illustrate a very, very specific question. The new guidelines are really designed to just lighten up on that stance a bit. Something to discuss. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 23:25
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    I'm firmly in the support camp; i think such questions allow opinion to flow; something that i think 'makes' design. My experience says there is little in design that translates to black and white "rules" and mostly the things that do could comfortably be on superuser. Of course we want to make sure that opinions are constructive, adding to the collective knowledge of the community, but thats what boundaries are for. Side note: I think the critique tag is an important stipulation for such questions.
    – Hemi
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 2:56
  • I could see this is valuable only in the meta section. If possibly the critique was directed in a way of a design or composition of the week type format; the winner would receive exposure. This would be similar to how Photo.SE does it.
    – chrisjlee
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 1:10

I'm in the other camp.

Not only because I see the questions and answers too subjective, but also because there are loads of sites designed specifically for this when it comes to graphic design. I'm currently not in the writing field so I can't say for sure there aren't any "writing show & tell" sites but certainly there isn't as much competition.

Some sites to back me up (sorry for the obvious web-bias):

  • 5
    On second thought, I tend to agree with this, at least for the time being while the community is still young. Critiques questions have a huge potential of littering the site with bad content. I'd say very specific questions like "Is the contrast in this composition readable enough?" are okay, but general "please critique my design" questions are not.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 23:11
  • I would also agree. Perhaps if they have some specific concerns about a design and want a few tips, but not a blanket "How does this look" statement. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 4:56
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    Plus, it would imply or allow some spam
    – Shikiryu
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 9:28
  • @Clem, spam can be dealt with by moderators and the vote to close system.
    – Hemi
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 3:00
  • 3
    @Koiyu, if these other sites are serving the community so well we won't see critique questions here, it will be self moderating. On the flipside i can see lots of sense finding my community in one place, with names i recognize. Also i only took a 2minute look at dribbble, and it does not look like critique; the comments were 90% "wow cool", "i like it". Critique in design is about about trying to understand intent, and then commenting on the effectiveness of the communication of that intent. There is a huge amount the community can learn from a good critique.
    – Hemi
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 3:23
  • 2
    @Pekka & Pearson, We definitely don't want to promote open ended "please critique" questions, but there is a middle ground. And looking at how we are doing on area51, we possibly need more questions rather than less.
    – Hemi
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 3:24
  • 1
    @Jaips both fair points. Maybe the community needs to experiment with this for a while?
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 10:47
  • @Jaips Good, valid points. Left me a bit unsure with my opinion. Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 16:26

Over at Area 51, during the definition stage, the question "Does this design look OK?" was the 3rd most off-topic question with 24 off-topic votes, 1 on-topic vote and 3 not a good example votes.

I see two valid reasons for this:

  1. As Pekka and ClemDesm have mentioned, these kinds of questions have the potential to take over the site.
  2. As koiyu mentioned, there are other (and maybe even better) sites dedicated to this.

However, after reading what Jeff has posted at the Writing meta and what Robert posted here, I feel we can have healthy discussions if these review requests are turned into proper, constructive questions.

As far as rep gain is concerned, I have two conflicting opinions:

  1. I think users shouldn't gain rep for posting good or interesting designs for review. So, do make these questions CW.
  2. I think users should gain rep if they post insightful reviews. So, don't make these questions CW.

In the end, I think I'm leaning towards option #1.

  • If a designer can produce high quality work as determined by a community of expert peers, why shouldn't that designer deserve a high reputation?
    – Hemi
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 2:42
  • 1
    @Jaips I think reputation should be an indicator of quality questions and answers - how the user shares hishers knowledge. A good designer isn't necessarily a good teacher. High quality design as is doesn't benefit the community like a good answer or a good question aggregating good answers does. Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 16:06

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