Man, I always feel like such a nagging prick when doing this.
As we all know (insert link to post I can’t find here) it’s important to get and be able to handle critique on whatever it is you may have created. But what about actively seeking it for something not yet finished? Looking for feedback, if you will. The past day or two I’ve been doing just that. With the work on Fang Talks 4 in full swing I’ve been trying to get somewhat continuous feedback from peeps everywhere. And I need that, because though I can see something’s wrong and not as pretty as it could be, I’m often stumped as for the reasons. I’ve been looking at the thing through its entire development lifetime, so formulating a user-like opinion is pretty hard. That’s the reason you pull other people in for feedback.
Thing is, I always feel like a huge annoyance, coming in with change after seemingly minor change, asking for opinions on every tiny detail. Because of this I spread it out over larger chunks of changes, and go to different people when I can (which is also good practice for getting a nice sample size). The feeling remains, but hopefully I’m being less of a burden.
Asking for opinions is one thing. Getting usable feedback out of them is something entirely different. Though an expert will tell you exactly what you want to know, exactly how you want to hear it, chances are you don’t have any such expert to casually contact. Non-experts require a bit more prying, some additional questions to get the kind of criticism you want. After all, “this looks bad” isn’t enough to work with. You’re looking for the “why” so you can target your effort to improve.
And of course there’s the usual “don’t tell anything up-front, get response first” rule. I’m always so tempted to say “I know this looks like jack, and that is something new I tried” but I really shouldn’t. If you’re any good (and your tester’s opinion isn’t one sentence) then you’ll know what drew their focus, what causes their eyes to hurt, and what they felt like pointing out. All naturally. If you start yapping before they’ve taken a look, you’re influencing their opinion beforehand. For clean, pure feedback, you definitely don’t want to do that.
Still got a long road ahead of me.