Product Critique

What is a Product Critique

A product critique objectively analyzes a product’s functionality, design, and user experience. A product critique aims to understand if a product is meeting its goals and working well for users.

Effectively critiquing a product is an essential skill for product designers and product managers. When you understand the nature of good products and know what users want and how they like to interact with products, you can improve products and develop successful product ideas.

A product critique is often used as a tool in the interview process for product designers. Consequently, during the product critique phase, candidates will analyze a product so the interviewer can see if candidates can objectively evaluate a product, communicate constructive feedback, and offer strategies for improvement.

Furthermore, many organizations hold internal product or design critique sessions to assess what’s working on a product and how to improve it. However, in these sessions, there is typically a presenter who walks participants through the product or design and provides context around the business objectives, user goals, and the reasons behind certain decisions. In addition, the critiquers, who may be designers, product managers, marketers, or other relevant stakeholders, then ask questions and offer feedback that ties back to the business and user goals.

How to Do a Critique

An effective product critique isn’t just finding flaws in a product. Moreover, it’s a way of thinking through a product and evaluating aspects of visual design, interaction design, and user experience. Furthermore, this includes layout, typeface, animations, color scheme, navigation style, informational architecture, user journey, accessibility, etc.

When critiquing, here are some questions to ask:

  • What problem is the product solving?
  • What is the value proposition?
  • What is the target market, and who are the end users?
  • What were your expectations before using the product?
  • Was it easy to get started and complete your goal?
  • How did the product make you feel?
  • What tone did the messaging set?
  • Does it comply with standard design and interaction principles?
  • Did the product meet your expectations?
  • How does this product compare to the competition?

When doing a product critique, the structure is important. Organized feedback with a focus and logical narrative will be far more useful than a haphazard analysis of random features.

Here are a few ways to approach a product critique:

Focus on your strengths and areas of expertise

Do you have a keen eye for visuals or an instinct for interaction design? Maybe you’re great at product thinking and product-market fit. Go deep into your area of expertise, noticing those aspects of the product. If you are a generalist, provide a well-rounded analysis that touches on all these areas at a higher level.

Focus on a persona or use case

In this approach, you may critique several features or one feature from the viewpoint-specific persona. This empathetic, user-centered approach requires a deep understanding of a user’s behavior, motivation, and desire.

Focus on a specific problem user journey

Finally, start with one problem the user is trying to solve and assess every aspect of the product used in solving that problem.