The Importance of a Holistic Design Approach

Graphics by Morgan Gilbert
September 10, 2021
written by
Morgan Gilbert
Product Design

When we use the word holistic, what exactly does that imply? In a mechanical assembly, we need to consider how this fits that and in turn, what impact that has on the overall design, does this count as holistic? In a way yes, however in product design we benefit from taking a larger step back and the scale of our perspective turns into a dance to create the best, most well thought out products.

At Altimus when we say holistic it means everything encompassing a product, this includes all factors of the design process and everything beyond, even how the product will develop after its use has been depleted by the end-user. This of course is overwhelming for an individual and highlights the importance of hiring a highly collaborative multidisciplinary team. Furthermore, having individuals who are not only experts in their respective fields but who are able to take an interest and understand those of their peers will help highlight obstacles and insights along the way. Having leaders and teammates like this will be the key difference in making a product that is at the top of its industry and one that is bland and ineffective.


To use an example of this method for design thinking we can explore the start of a project, you as the client might say “People find X to be a problem and I have a solution”. You may indeed have the solution but before you invest yourself into making it a reality, it’s a chance to step back and evaluate “Why do people find X to be a problem?”. This presents an exciting opportunity to create a solution that will push far beyond the surface, maybe it becomes a family of products, perhaps there is a simpler resolve, however the outcome, your brand, business and product will be far better off. If unvalidated, further down the line you could hear “People find X to be a problem, they bought my solution but now find Z to be a problem”. Asking the right questions right up front can help give you and the entire team a larger perspective on an opportunity and compel you to become an expert on the topic.


The insights given at an early state can help give answers at a later one, this could range from “This material will cause problems when the user is doing X” to “We found early on that our target audience values X beyond anything else, it is critical that it's at the forefront of the device”. Making sure that the whole product development team is on the same page is what enables internal conversation, innovations, insights and those “aha” moments. In short, we can highlight new discoveries and catch obstacles or challenges before spending significant time solving problems. In contrast, a splintered team full of isolated individuals can create imbalances in responsibility, effort, passion, and completion as small or large topics may be forgotten or overlooked as communication will be lacking and perspectives are not shared. When you are able to find the highly collaborative dream team to help you move an idea forward it will save you money and time while giving you the utmost confidence that your product will find success when it hits the market.

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