Design for all life, not just the end-user

Design for all life, not just the end-user

Updated 24 October 2022

Consumer demands are constantly changing and new digital design trends (that are here to stay) are emerging.

How consumers are changing

Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious and hyper-aware of how their purchases affect others and Earth’s resources. (1) More than ever before, consumers are demanding products and services that are meaningful and socially and environmentally beneficial.

What matters most to consumers?

  1. How the business treats its own people/employees

  2. How the business treats the environment

  3. How the business supports the communities in which it operates

These are top issues consumers identify with while making decisions about brands, as identified by Deloitte’s 2019 consumer pulsing survey.

How design is evolving

As consumers and businesses evolve, so does the role of design. Design is going beyond considering the end-user alone, to designing holistically for all life.

Design for all life

User-centred design alone can no longer tackle the complexity of today’s problems, and something new needs to come into play.

Designing for all life — inspired by writer John Thackara’s theory of designing not just for human life, but for the entire planet — is about addressing humans as part of a greater ecosystem, as opposed to being at the centre of everything.

Design for all life is about embracing a broader, more holistic systems mindset by designing for two sets of values, both personal and collective.

Principles of design for all life

  1. Design for all life is designed with the full picture in mind

  2. Design for all life is about the future, just as much as it is about now

  3. Design for all life is for all, not just for those who can “afford it”

  4. Design for all life’s bottom line is necessity, not cost

  5. Design for all life is designed to last, not to fail

  6. Design for all life is thorough down to the last detail

  7. Design for all life is symbiotic with nature

  8. Design for all life is intelligent

  9. Design for all life is humane

  10. Design for all life is as few things as possible

These principles were put together by Sentient Collective. Keen to learn more about these principles and how they apply? Read the 10 principles of life centered design.

Regardless of your size, industry or sector, understanding and remaining agile to the shifts that shape global consumer preferences is key to business success. 

Benefits of designing for all life

Consumers are actively seeking out brands with forward-looking views, who care for the Earth and share similar values to their own. The iconic shoe brand Dr. Martens offers a great example of this ideal — it boosted profits by 70 percent when it introduced a vegan range of footwear made from synthetic material. (2)

87% of consumers buy from businesses that share their cause (3) so when businesses align their purpose with the principles of designing for all life, they build deeper connections, amplify their relevance and increase their bottom line.

Tips for designing for all life

No matter who your customers, employees or partners are, the human value compass found five tenets that contribute to elevating the human experience.

5 ways to elevate the human experience:

  1. Be obsessed with all things human

  2. Proactively deliver on human needs

  3. Execute with humanity

  4. Be authentic

  5. Work to change the world

When a business can identify these values and work toward building solutions that align to them, it can elevate the human experience.

  • Design for an expected lifespan

  • Design for the use of renewable or recycled materials

  • Design for recycling

  • Design for production

  • Design for care and maintenance

  • Design for adaptability and upgradability

  • Design for standardisation and compatibility

  • Design for disassembly and reassembly

  • Design for human connection

Why it helps to bring in a digital design expert

A digital agency or expert is probably passionate about designing for all life (I know we are!) and can help educate businesses on the value of adopting a holistic, more inclusive mindset to design.

A digital agency or expert will have the experience and insight to design for all life in a way that is most meaningful to your brand and audience in the complex, forever changing digital landscape. In addition, they’ll have access to methodologies, skill sets and tools to maximise return on investment.

Want to level up or implement design for all life principles in your business? We're here to help, drop us a line!


  1. accenture.com

  2. financialservicesblog.accenture.com

  3. davidsonbranding.com.au

Written by

Linda Bailey

UX Director

Diverting from a career in Architecture, Linda uses the left and right side of her brain equally. She's been with Honest Fox from the beginning and is involved in all facets of the business. She's empathetic and kind and loves punk music.