holistic design - cover

A Holistic Design Approach: From Concept to Completion

Design, Product
8 min
May 27, 2024

This situation will definitely sound familiar to you: you saw an ad, the product came to your attention, you were considering buying it, and when the culmination happened and you had to insert the information about your order, the website glitched and your time for filling out the forms was in vain. The process started from scratch. Annoying, right? Well, it’s just many websites do not follow a holistic design approach on them. We can call it “a secret sauce” of good customer experience. The right way to cut annoyance and bring back the joy of spending your money.Customers nowadays have to go through complex user journeys: from seeing the product in the ad to making a purchase (and it doesn’t stop there). However, those difficult-to-pass steps may not be in the company’s favor.

This article will cover the fundamentals of holistic design and provide an overview of how to apply holistic approach principles in practice. So let’s start with the definition of holistic design.

What Is Holistic Design?

Holistic design is the philosophy of examining the product and users’ interactions with it from all angles. This means that all steps of the user journey, starting from the website’s home page and finishing with permanent cooperation, are taken into account and perceived together.

When designing with a holistic concept in mind, designers consider all the nuances of the product, not just the visual parts that will be connected to the end user. That means that the following factors are considered when making design decisions: the device, the person, the geographic location, cultural features, emotions, behaviors, triggers, and so on.

To dive deeply into all the aspects of customer-product interactions, you should conduct research before the development stage. When analyzing all the aspects, the designers’ team makes an optimal decision that will embrace customers’ needs, design solutions, and business goals in one product design.

Why Follow the Holistic Design Approach?

The rise of holistic design makes it challenging for developers and design professionals to embody a range of requirements in one project: from users, design disciplines, and stakeholders. But the effort is worth it. And here is why.

Holistic Design Approach

It Enhances the User Experience

These days, people will not stay with a product that offers just great functionality. Customers choose personalized experiences and solutions specifically tailored to their needs. They expect seamless interaction with the platform at all touchpoints. This is what the survey confirms: 72% of users will engage with the company’s messaging if it is personalized. This is a lot to waste if you lack a holistic approach.

It Improves Brand Recognition and Awareness

One holistic design principle is consistency, which refers to creating design solutions in the same style, for the same target audience, and in the same tone of voice across all channels. This makes your product unique and one-of-a-kind. But what is the connection between consistency and loyalty? Once the users notice you, they will easily recognize you by your exceptional features and style.

It Boosts Work Efficiency Between Teams

The extraordinary feature of the holistic design process is gathering all the teams together because all aspects of the product are considered. While this might take more time and effort than following a usual design process, it improves communication between departments and simplifies the planning part. When all are on the same page, it is easier to come up with a final, approved decision.

It Increases Return on Investment

The holistic design focuses on user and business needs. When customers are satisfied, they want to cooperate. Even though the investment in this concept is greater as it focuses on all the aspects of the interaction product, it is still beneficial for businesses. The metrics also confirm this statement. A holistic approach increases conversion rates.

It Reduces the Risk of Silos

The Silo effect builds boundaries between teams, poor communication, and reduced trust. This can be prevented through holistic design thinking. The approach can not be followed without the cooperation of all the team members. Therefore, it reduced the chances of building that silos effect.

Cooperation Is Key

Being in the product development sphere, you might have noticed a detail that brings all the processes into the stagnation phase. The detail is the level of cooperation between specialists. For many, waiting weeks for approval from business partners is a common practice. However, the holistic design approach requires maximum quick collaboration and decision-making. Otherwise, the process can drag on for a long time.

These tips help foster cooperation and communication between teams:

holistic design approach: teams communication

  1. Involving joint decision-making from the first development stages. The holistic approach influences all design planning stages and starts from the initial stage of discussing the idea. The earlier the team learns to be together in all the decisions, the better it is for further cooperation.
  2. Encouraging the feedback culture. Feedback from specialists in diverse teams can be crucial to examining things from a different angle. Building an honest feedback culture can bring many breakthrough ideas, which is valuable for the holistic user experience.
  3. Setting up regular cross-team meetings. Regular communication between teams is easy to follow but is often neglected by many companies. Usually, the meetings take place within separate teams. However, a holistic approach encompassing all the product and user interaction aspects requires sharing regular expertise between different teams.

User Research as a Fundamental of Holistic Design

Since UI/UX design must be a holistic concept that considers all users’ needs, pains, and features, you can’t do this without user research. It is a continuous process and should be implemented after the product release since customer requirements change over time.

In-depth user research should be conducted when starting to design with a holistic approach. It will help answer questions about who the target audience is, what they need, how they feel about the product, how to make their use more seamless, and more.

Holistic Design Principles

Implementing holistic design is a complex process requiring a lot of attention. However, the good news is that certain practices can significantly simplify the employment process and increase the efficiency of the holistic design for the project’s success. Here they are:

Holistic Design Principles

  • User’s research as a basis. Holistic design throughout the project is connected with a global understanding of the current users’ needs. Without this understanding, creating a total vision of the destination point will not be possible. Therefore, the very basis of the holistic design is to define the current pains of the audience and provide some valid solutions during the next steps of employment.
  • Customer journey map. Visual storylines of users’ interactions are another pillar of holistic design. Once the developer’s team puts themselves in the customer’s shoes and engages with the service features in a particular order, it greatly facilitates the creation of the general vision of the project’s design.
  • General design system. Another step to successfully implementing holistic design is defining the general design system of the future project. By that, we mean choosing the basic design language and concept of the project. This simple step will help maintain the project’s idea throughout the development process, right until the project launch.
  • Prototyping and iteration testing. Simulating user interactions through prototyping and interaction testing are common practices used to ensure the constant improvement of existing projects. This helps the designers keep abreast and include necessary changes without any resource losses.

Holistic Design Examples

The holistic term is partly idealistic. It is evident that all the users’ needs, taking into account the diversity of customers, cannot be perfectly met. But you can see real examples of what the direction toward implementing holistic principles of the design looks like.

Apple

You can easily recognize which product belongs to the Apple ecosystem as the company stays consistent in its design. Apple devices create a harmonious unit: they can sync with each other, have the same design, and give a similar feeling. People who stick to Apple products rarely choose competitors as they get used to the excellent user experience and clear design decisions, even for complex tasks.

Slack

Slack is the most popular communication tool used by companies. Here is why: You can do everything within that platform without additional instruments. In addition to providing basic features like file sharing or messaging in channels, there is a great choice of app integration, creating your own workflows, and even playing games.

Netflix

Forbes states that Netflix is the streaming service with the most subscribers. That is not surprising, as its main focus in the holistic user experience is personalization in everything: choosing a film based on recommendations, adapting video quality based on the user’s Internet connection, and using the service on various platforms. The user spends just a few clicks and receives a smooth experience in the entertainment sphere.

Google

Google services’ ease of use can be envied. The main advantage of a holistic approach for users is the offer of accompanying digital products. They meet various needs and leave no thought of switching to competitors. Google’s visual representation and simplicity of utilization make it a top product in the niche.

Conclusion

Holistic design is an integral part of making your project look unique in your attempt to achieve the necessary goals in the project development process. Certain techniques, such as customer journey maps, prototyping, and iteration tests, can facilitate the employment of holistic design, leading the project to perfection.

by Ivan Klyzhenko
UX Startup Advisor, Uitop

FAQ

What is holistic design?

Holistic design is a special approach in the development process that takes into account the general picture of the project. This kind of design implies considering the product from different angles, including feedback from the audience, prototyping, communication with stakeholders, etc.

Why is holistic design so important?

Holistic design is a pillar in creating unique and harmonious product designs. It ensures full coverage of the product components and provides unique solutions that will meet current project needs. If holistic design is successfully integrated, it can become a link between the existing components of the future product.

What are the benefits of this philosophy?

Implementation of the holistic design method comes with a lot of advantages. They are enhanced user experience, improved brand awareness and recognition, improved work efficiency and cooperation between teams, reduced risk of silos, and increased return on investment.

What are the principles of a holistic approach?

The fundamentals of this concept are the following: thorough user research, crafting user journey maps, general design systems, prototyping, clear communication, and cooperation.

You may also be interested

design thinking - futured
Design
8 min

The Foundation of Design Thinking in UX UI

Imagine if every time you used a piece of software, the app felt easy and elegant and actually improved your day, as if it was designed just for you. This is the promise of design thinking for UX/UI. Design thinking brings users to the heart of product design through empathy and conversation. It’s a deeply […]

accessibility-usability-futured
Design
10 min

Accessibility and Usability in Design: Why Is It Important?

Accessibility vs. usability. You’ve probably come across these two terms before. Both help ensure that a variety of people can use a product, whether they are non-technical or technically inclined, and also users with disabilities. Yet, accessibility and usability have different meanings and importance. In this article, we’ll explore their differences and also explain what […]

healthcare design challenges - futured
Design, Product
10 min

Healthcare User Experience Design Challenges: How to Solve?

Medtech systems are becoming more popular among healthcare practitioners all over the world. With digital resources, medical professionals can improve their ability to diagnose and treat patients and keep more accurate records. As a result, this helps reduce the likelihood of potentially devastating medical errors. Therefore, UX in healthcare has received a lot of focus […]

Let’s discuss your design challenges

Please leave your email so we can contact you

Done!

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    Need estimation?

    Tell us a little more about your product so we can estimate it

    Looking for a designer?

    We'll help you make the right choice!