Today, I finally saw the thing I ‘d never really considered possible a couple of years ago. A service called UFeedMeBack being sold basically on the back of celebrity web designers which apparently offers feedback on your designs from, well, “celebrity designers”.
It’s something that’s been troubling me over the last couple of years and I know a few others who are talking along similar lines regarding the “celebrity designer” and their influence over the industry.
You know the ones, who in all fairness are there because over the years they’ve put out solid work or are recent influencers but they’re names you’ll know with backgrounds most of us will be familiar with. On the surface what’s strange is this site seems to have spawned from nowhere, with little mention on the day of launch from anyone other than a couple of the “feedbackers” and has currently got little in the way of transparent information about exactly what you get from the rockstars of modern day web design.
I’m providing my feedback in blog form after a discussion on Twitter with @ufeedmeback so while I appreciate this post may be a little two pronged and sound harsh, it might be a case of poor initial design / message that’s causing my bad gut feeling about this service and the use of celebrity designers to pull in business.
Big names, but little credibility
As I mentioned, there are household names in the web industry such as Andy Budd, Andy Rutledge, Yaron Schoen and a personal favourite of mine, Matthew Smith but apart from a couple of tweets I’ve seen nothing about this service and it just strikes me as plain weird that so many people being involved in such a service wouldn’t give it a few tweets on beta launch day. I may have missed something here but the design community is small on Twitter and I’m amazed there’s not been more talk.
Credibility and openness as we all know plays a massive part of getting customers to sign up for and pay for a service online. This site to me currently has none other than the masthead big names. I can only assume they’ve had no input in the design and setup of the site because without examples of feedback and an idea of cost (I’ll come to this) it’s difficult to get any sort of idea what you actually get. The USP seems to be based very much around celebrity designers looking at your screenshots and saying their bit.
What does feedback look like?
As I mentioned earlier, one of the main things that concerns me about many public sharing systems like this is that often the people feeding back into a visual are doing just that. Unless the person asking for feedback goes into epic project detail about the problem they’re trying to solve then you’re just judging a visual out of context and with little information.
When you look at an inspiring gallery or attractive website, remember that what you’re seeing is merely the result, not the process.
UFeedMeBack doesn’t seem to do anything to give example feedback that has been given and although it offers a description field to accompany the screenshot upload, it seems likely that the small size of the input area would lead us to expect a few simple lines to accompany the screenshot. I’d be amazed (but happy) if the feedback on a design consisted of more than a few sentences that dealt largely with aesthetics. Again though, unfortunately the site itself doesn’t give much to go on so perhaps this is an area to improve on quickly for them.
How much does it actually cost then?
That’s the interesting bit, apparently at the time of launch, @jbrewer isn’t available to comment on any user uploads. A couple of the feedbackers don’t seem to have set their rate (or are offering free feedback?) and most of the others are charged at $15 with Andy Rutledge being the most expensive I saw at $40.
I guess here we reach the point where you think that after paying your $1 to upload a screenshot, selecting design heroes Matthew Smith, Andy Rutledge, Tyler Galpin and Andy Budd for some UX feedback, I’m looking at the thick end of $75 to get some feedback which, unless I upload or paste in a full project outline or scope is going to be feedback based purely on a visual. It’s perhaps not the of the world to get some advice on colour choices or my typography but I could get that on Forrst which has a fuller (free) community.
Does the feedback cover a single round of ammends or would you come back and ask for more for your $15 (or $40) a person once you’ve implemented feedback? Again, it’s unfortunately not that clear at this time.
How much of their time can I expect?
I’ve been in the industry several years and have a reasonable idea of what a top end designer like some of the guys mentioned here can expect to quote if they’re working freelance or as part of their agency day rate. It’s a lot. I don’t begrudge that, I do enjoy seeing their work and hearing them talk but again the site does little to dispel my nagging doubt as to how much time someone getting paid $10 for some feedback (I assume UFeedMeBack takes a cut?) is going to put into reviewing my project outline and then my visual in order to improve it. Again, this could be relatively easily satisfied with some example reviews and follow up on the site.
The current design and model of this site does on the surface appear to be the first real effort to cash in on providing a service that already exists (things like Forrrst) but adding celebrity names into the mix.
I’m curious given some of the feelings I’ve outlined above with regard to transparency and credibility to know if the designers giving feedback are actively involved in the site itself or if they are being sent a notification to look at a design then getting paid?
It’s a strange beast, visually the site ticks many boxes but for me the lack of a pricing structure for the feedbackers is a big thing and the lack of any examples of feedback given so far makes it a tough one to subscribe to.
That’s my feedback anyway. Hope it’s helpful.