As a UX team-of-one at your company, you are the key person driving a user-centered design philosophy. The key to receiving constructive feedback from non-designers is to help them understand what it is you do and for you to ask the right questions.
Educate your colleagues
You may work with or for an organisation that doesn’t yet “get it”. That is, they haven’t fully bought into the value and purpose of UX. Or, even if they do value user experience, they may not be in a position to fully fund and build a robust UX practice. Either way, that means that you’re constantly seeking to educate and influence colleagues at your company on what it is that you actually do. Show them that design is about problem-solving. Being transparent and giving everyone a glimpse into your process will garner more thoughtful feedback down the road.
Define what you’re looking for feedback on
Last year, a friend and fellow designer gave me some great advice for getting better feedback and it’s worked really well for me ever since.
Use this technique in meetings and via email too - you’ll find it really helps people focus on answering your specific questions, reducing the chances of less useful comments. Video also works well as a medium to show colleagues/clients your designs or ideas and watch again in their own time if need be.
1) Repeat the top level design goals (eg “we want our blog authors to be perceived as experts in this area”)
2) Explain how the design fulfils the goals (eg “I’ve added a short author bio on every page to showcase the author’s credentials)
3) Ask for very specific feedback (eg “Do you think that will give enough credibility or is there anything else we should do?” or “the visuals are unfinished, so I am primarily looking for your opinion on which of these interactions work best”)
Remember to always remain calm and have a positive manner and take a note of everyone’s feedback as they provide it and explain you’ll take that on-board and thank them for their time.
Have thick skin
Easier said than done, but do your best to realise that some aspects of design are subjective. If someone doesn’t like the colour of a button for example – that is solely their own opinion. Don’t take it personally or as an attack on your capabilities as a designer.
Summarise the take aways
At the end of the meeting, give a quick summary of what you heard, and your action items for next time.