One of Buffer’s awesome product designers, Steve Dixon, joined us in the #bufferchat this week to talk about what it means to develop a design mindset! We discussed many meanings of “design” and how design can tell stories, solve problems and help us overcome challenges.

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, every week on Wednesdays, 9 am PT / 12 pm ET / 5 pm UTC, for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. It’s a fun time!

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Q1: How would you define a “design mindset?”

From Steve:

  • It feels like a design mindset is about having that overall focus on all the individual pieces that make up design…
  • such as how something works, how it functions, what problems it solves, etc.

From the community:

  • “It’s imaginative, human centered, playful, challengers constraints, questions purpose and ready to to take action!” @danielleirogers
  • “A design mindset is like a philosopher’s mindset. It seeks to understand by asking questions.” @jseevers
  • “Design mindset is thinking about the user experience from the user’s perspective from Day 1.” @revaminkoff

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: There are many ways to design! What kinds of things do you “design” in your work/life?

From Steve:

  • In my work, it’s all things Awesome Plan and a few things outside of that!
  • In my life, it’s all things positive, self-improving and living smarter, not harder. 🙂

From the community:

  • “I design stories that bring people together! My design tools are my words and my Nikon.” @sola_eclipses
  • “I design events, social media campaigns, team activities, tweetup opportunities, decadent dinners & ice cream sundaes.” @calgarydreamer
  • “Work: design strategies & tactics to better engage online communities Life: design life experiences from anything/everything.” @SocialDave
  • “I like to think I design laughter, happiness, compassion, empowering msges through social + video.” @MandaVision
  • “I design branding, social media visuals, brochures, signs, emails. Love taking raw info& presenting in a way that excites ppl.” @DonnaVanSamek

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What qualities might be helpful to have while designing?

From Steve:

  • It feels great to detach ourselves from personal ideas, especially with how self-expressive design really is.
  • This leads us to constantly practice being a no-ego doer as well as achieve the right results. 🙂

From the community:

  • “A white-space mindset. aka, room to breath, whether it’s on a page or within a process.” @dariasteigman
  • “As in most things, empathy and perception. Think of who this is being designed for and how this will affect them.” @dev_vine
  • “Curiosity. Empathy. Tenacity. Courage.” @boyink
  • “An open mindset. Go against the grain and be patient. Don’t be afraid to fail.” @socialeyze
  • “Being able to adapt. Remember who you’re creating the design for and what message or emotions you’re trying to elicit.” @NatashaWest_

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How can design communicate a story or a message?

From Steve:

  • We feel that our wonderful Customer Developers and Product Creators help craft this story and are a constant guide to the…
  • kind of message we’re trying to achieve.

From the community:

  • “People love visuals more. Design makes a brand story quick to understand & easier to remember.” @chillingbreeze
  • “Design tells the story of your brand—are you whimsical? Professional? Serious? Witty? Your design will show that.” @margotcodes
  • “Design has the ability to guide a user along a path to communicate a message through hierarchy, typography, color and space.” @dmtors
  • “I would argue that ALL design tells a story. You don’t have to TRY to do it. The goal is to make sure it is the RIGHT story.” @Thekneil
  • “Indicate movement. Even the color of a design sends a message to people. What if Coca Cola wasn’t that iconic red?” @jzimm_zimma

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: Have you ever taken, or seen someone take, a big design risk? How did it turn out?

From Steve:

  • Design is constantly about risk and we’re always so keen to test out our hypothesis. This tends to lead to take risks on…
  • certain ideas so that we can understand our customers and flesh out our intentions even more. 🙂

From the community:

  • “We’re deep into a redesign of right now. We like to consider our risks more like experiments.” @TheCoolestCool
  • “Yes, risks in design shouldn’t be frowned upon. If it makes you stop & think, we evoked some type of emotion.” @cindymedran0
  • “For some, risks turn into rewards. For others, they turn into lessons. But unless you take the risk, you’ll never know.” @AyeshaAmbreen
  • “Colored iMac. Huge risk that single handedly saved one of our most iconic brands from extinction.” @dswebsme

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: How can the design of something impact our mood? Have you ever had an emotional reaction to design?

From Steve:

  • There’s such a wonderful distinction between the reaction of a designer and a non-designer. As a designer, you tend to…
  • love how the smaller details really help your audience and as a non-designer, you tend to love something…
  • because it works, even if you don’t fully understand how or why it works! 🙂

From the community:

  • “I love this guide. One of my favorites w/ some amazing brands!” @CrateTeam
  • “I’ve certainly seen or communications designs that have moved me to tears or to action – or both.” @incipecoop
  • “When I stumble on a website that hasn’t been updated since the early 90’s it makes me maaaad!” @LinfordMiles
  • “I believe that design has succeed largely if it can impact & evoke an emotional reaction. Yes, I’ve had my moments!” @TheCoolZephyr
  • “You ever get that feeling when you look at something and just smile? That happens to me with bold colors and designs.” @lafitara

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: How might you solve problems or overcome challenges through design?

From Steve:

  • When I started to program, I learnt to break down a problem to its smallest parts. This has really helped me…
  • tackle and manage challenges that face us with design! 🙂

From the community:

  • “The best way to solve problems with is by always starting with the question “why”. Form follows function.” @jseevers
  • “Spend time with the folks you want to serve, learn the obvious and not so obvious problems. Take action when creating.” @ambassadorbruny
  • “ooo ooo! Check out Back of the Napkin by .” @mmoreid
  • “In SAfrica someone designed a “deskbag” 4 kids with long daily commute. Bag becomes desk to do homework on.” @Dwyka_Consult
  • “Showcase a message that is comprehensible to a wider audience than words alone.” @complexkickz

See all the great answers to question 7 here!

Thank you so much to Steve for sharing his insights and to everyone who participated in this awesome chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PST, 12 pm EST, 5 pm UTC. Join our new Slack community with over 1,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!