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. · Go to How to critique, give crit­i­cism and take feed­back →