Think Like a Human

Last week I gladly filled Coco's spot and headed to the Guthrie to listen to Fred Dust speak with Lindsay, Melissa, and Maureen. Not only was the unique Minneapolis venue inspirational, but so was Fred Dust, a designer who works with leaders and change agents to unlock the potential of innovation networks in business, government, and society (using design of course).

As a prospective graphic designer, I found that what Fred Dust had to say was applicable to all fields of design and beyond. Design is commonly mistaken as just making the world look pretty, but it's so much more than that; design is "thinking carefully about what we're putting in the world," says Fred. When it comes down to it, "we are all designers," but for those who call themselves designers, here are Fred's four 'Design Practices' to keep in mind:


Look, really LOOK! People are too biased to relay the truth to you sometimes, so observing instead of just asking customers what they like or need will help you find the information you REALLY need to create a successful design. Utilize expertise, listen carefully, and spend time observing. 


Don't be afraid to get hands on and engaging in order to communicate on a whole new level. And remember, "empathy is a powerful tool," but it has to felt not told. 


Sometimes things are just better in a box. It helps you see further and work around the constraints, feeding your creativity and innovative skill set.  


Part of your job as a designer is to be BRAVE! Take risks, hypothesize, and test your ideas. Don't be afraid to do what hasn't been done or create what hasn't been created. Don't just be a designer, be a brave one. 

On top of these four principles, here are a few more tips to remember:

  • More is better. Come ready with many, MANY ideas! It's a lot easier to respond to ideas than to vocalize what you want. 
  • If you can go fast, then go fast! There's no reason not to if you can. 
  • The more you love who you're designing for, the better you design. Get to know your customers and appreciate them; your designs will benefit tremendously from doing so. 

Fred has so many great tips, but his main message was to THINK LIKE A HUMAN! The more you understand your customers as humans and what they need instead of just another customer, the better you will design. Exercising the four 'Design Practices' above will consequently help you accomplish this, so OBSERVE and LISTEN, ENGAGE and EMPATHIZE, EMBRACE your constraints, and be BRAVE! 

Listening to what Fred had to say gave me a new perspective on the field of design. As a student, I know that his tips and attitude towards design will benefit me and stick with me as I go through school and as I enter the working world of design myself. 

Note the reflection of the iconic "Gold Metal Flower"building

Note the reflection of the iconic "Gold Metal Flower"building