Holistic Design User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition

Holistic Design: Concept Definition

Holistic design is a design approach which sees a design as an interconnected whole that is part of the larger world. It goes beyond problem solving to incorporate all aspects of the ecosystem in which a product is used. The focus of holistic design is context dependent; even so, among other things, it considers aesthetics, sustainability, and spirituality.

While it is most commonly employed in architecture, with a little thought, holistic design can be adapted to any form of product or service design. Designer Yves Behar offers seven key principles for designers to incorporate holistic design in their work:

  1. Begin with questions rather than answers. Instead of acting on a brief which already dictates the answers, asking questions which put the problem in its holistic context is far more important.
  2. Deliver more, not less. Don’t reduce functionality to meet holistic goals – improve the functionality and meet holistic goals.
  3. Create your own theories. Borrow shamelessly from disciplines other than design, and adapt theories from those disciplines so as to deliver greater designs.
  4. Use 360-degree design. Look at the whole customer lifecycle of a product and design from marketing to disposal.
  5. Consider alternative business models. Behar’s business recognizes how hard it can be for clients to trust the iterative holistic design process and often trades royalties or equities rather than charging traditional fees.
  6. Do better. Look at projects which seem impossible, and then aim to deliver them anyway.
  7. Find what you want that everyone else wants. Create change, and meet unmet needs.

Holistic design may appear avant-garde and ambitious, but what it demands of a designer’s imagination is the same creativity that can pay dividends far into the future. Designing for sustainability is key to future-proofing a product; adopting a holistic approach addresses that sustainability.

For your convenience, we’ve collected all UX literature that deals with Holistic Design. Here’s the full list: