Designing for complexity: embracing the duality of UX and systems design

Embracing the duality of UX and systems design

And the value of eclectic designers in creating complex designs

Illustration of an octopus

Have you ever worked on a problem statement so complex that it seemed impossible to capture its nuances and interdependencies? Designing for such complexities requires a more comprehensive approach that goes beyond binary scales and simplistic solutions. It demands the integration of different design perspectives, specifically user-centered design and systems design.

Meet Kavya & Aarav

Let me introduce you to Kavya and Aarav, two designers with distinct perspectives. Kavya, the user-centred designer, is passionate about understanding individual users, tailoring experiences, and creating multidimensional personas. On the other hand, Aarav, the systems designer, takes a holistic view, considering interconnected components, stakeholder collaboration, and long-term impact. By understanding their perspectives and the value they bring, we can uncover the benefits of having both on the same team.

When one starts their UX journey, they resemble someone like Kavya — a designer focused only on the user and the user alone. Every design decision revolved around creating seamless experiences and catering to individual needs.

However, as you begin dealing with larger problem statements, you realized that there’s more to design than just the user. That’s when you become a designer like Aarav, embracing a systems design approach that considers the interconnectedness of various elements and the broader impact of design solutions.

Join us on this exploration as we navigate a hypothetical problem statement in the health insurance domain in India. We will witness how Kavya and Aarav approach it differently, each bringing their unique insights and considerations to the table. Together, we will discover why simply thinking “this or that” may not address the obvious complexities around us and how the duality of design can lead to more holistic and impactful solutions.

Let’s Explore the Problem: Designing Health Insurance Solutions for Millennial Indians

The problem at hand is to develop health insurance solutions specifically tailored to meet the unique needs and preferences of millennial Indians. This tech-savvy generation, born between the early 1980s and late 1990s, has distinct characteristics and expectations when it comes to health insurance coverage. The objective is to design innovative solutions that address the healthcare concerns and financial constraints faced by millennials, ensuring that they have access to comprehensive health coverage that aligns with their lifestyle and values.

Kavya’s Approach:

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Kavya, with her user-centred design approach, would focus on understanding the unique needs and preferences of millennial Indians when it comes to health insurance. She would conduct extensive research, including surveys and interviews, to gather insights into their expectations, pain points, and desired features.

Kavya would prioritize creating seamless digital experiences, personalized interfaces, and convenient policy management tools that align with millennials’ digital lifestyles. She would also advocate for coverage options that address emerging healthcare needs, such as mental health support and preventive care.

By incorporating millennial perspectives throughout the design process, Kavya aims to create health insurance solutions that cater to their specific requirements and provide a more engaging and user-friendly experience.

Kavya’s problem version — Designing user-centric health insurance solutions for millennial Indians that align with their digital lifestyle and offer personalized experiences.

Aarav’s Approach:

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Aarav, with his systems design approach, would take a broader perspective when designing health insurance solutions for millennial Indians. He would analyze the existing health insurance ecosystem, including policy frameworks, stakeholder dynamics, and financial models.

Aarav would collaborate with insurance providers, policymakers, and healthcare professionals to identify systemic challenges and opportunities for improvement. He would advocate for policy changes that promote accessibility and affordability, optimize costs within the system, and explore innovative models that cater specifically to millennial needs.

Aarav’s goal is to create a more inclusive and sustainable health insurance system that addresses the unique requirements of millennial Indians while considering the broader ecosystem in which it operates.

Aarav’s problem version — Designing a sustainable and inclusive health insurance system for millennial Indians, addressing their unique needs while ensuring affordability and long-term viability.

Why do product teams need both a Kavya or an Aarav

Primarily because they bring complementary perspectives and skill sets that are valuable in addressing the complexities of the problem at hand.

Kavya, with her user-centred design approach, ensures that the solutions are tailored to meet the specific needs and preferences of millennial Indians. She focuses on understanding their experiences, pain points, and desired features, and designs intuitive interfaces and digital experiences that resonate with their digital lifestyle. Kavya’s emphasis on user research and personalized experiences helps create solutions that are engaging and user-friendly.

On the other hand, Aarav, with his systems design approach, takes a holistic view of the problem, considering the broader ecosystem and systemic challenges. He analyzes the existing health insurance system, collaborates with stakeholders, and advocates for policy changes and innovative models. Aarav’s expertise ensures that the solutions address the larger structural issues and work towards creating a more inclusive and sustainable health insurance system.

By having both Kavya and Aarav on the team, their diverse perspectives and approaches complement each other. Kavya brings a user-focused lens, ensuring the solutions are designed with the end users in mind, while Aarav takes a systemic view, considering the larger context and working towards systemic change. Together, they can create comprehensive and impactful solutions that address the complexities and nuances of the problem, leading to better outcomes for millennial Indians and the overall health insurance system.

Kavya and Aarav, with their combined perspectives and expertise, would likely come up with a comprehensive solution for improving health insurance accessibility and affordability for millennial Indians.

Embracing Holistic Spectrums

To embrace holistic spectrums, Kavya and Aarav would consider a more comprehensive and nuanced approach to designing health insurance solutions for millennial Indians. Instead of relying on a binary approach, they would recognize the diverse range of needs, preferences, and characteristics within this generation and develop solutions that cater to these variations. By incorporating holistic spectrums, they would acknowledge the multidimensional nature of millennial Indians and design a health insurance platform that adapts to their individual circumstances.

The Problem with a Binary Approach

A binary approach oversimplifies the complexities of the millennial Indian population, hindering the effectiveness and inclusivity of health insurance solutions. For example, categorizing millennials into just two broad categories (e.g., urban vs. rural or high-income vs. low-income) neglects the diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural values, and lifestyle preferences within this demographic. This oversimplification leads to generic and inadequate solutions that fail to address the specific needs and challenges faced by individuals.

In the context of health insurance for millennial Indians, a binary approach might assume that all millennials have identical healthcare needs and preferences. However, this disregards the fact that some may prioritize mental health services, while others may focus on preventive care or alternative treatments. By recognizing the multidimensional nature of millennial healthcare needs and embracing holistic spectrums, Kavya and Aarav would design a platform that offers personalized coverage options. This would allow individuals to choose the specific coverage elements that align with their preferences and tailor their health insurance plans accordingly.

Furthermore, a binary approach may overlook the varying financial capabilities and constraints within the millennial Indian population. By considering a holistic spectrum of income levels, Kavya and Aarav would prioritize cost optimization within the health insurance system to ensure affordability for individuals across different financial backgrounds. This approach would allow for flexible premium options, subsidies, and innovative payment models, ensuring that health insurance remains accessible and sustainable for millennials with varying income levels.

In summary, a binary approach oversimplifies the complexities of millennial Indians and results in generic and inadequate solutions. By embracing holistic spectrums, Kavya and Aarav would recognize the multidimensional nature of millennial healthcare needs and preferences, offering personalized coverage options and addressing the varying financial capabilities within this demographic. This approach ensures inclusivity, affordability, and relevance in the design of health insurance solutions for millennial Indians.

Harnessing the Power of Diverse Perspectives: Integrating Kavya and Aarav’s Mindsets

To ensure a product team benefits from both Kavya’s and Aarav’s mindsets, it is essential to foster a diverse team with individuals from various backgrounds, expertise, and perspectives. This diversity creates a fertile ground for collaboration and communication, allowing team members to share their ideas, insights, and perspectives openly.

Cross-functional training opportunities can further enhance the team’s dynamics by enabling Kavya to understand systems thinking principles and Aarav to gain insights into user-centred design methodologies.

By embracing a multidisciplinary approach, team members can leverage each other’s strengths and collaborate on problem-solving and decision-making. Establishing shared goals and objectives ensures that Kavya and Aarav align their perspectives and work together toward achieving the desired outcomes.

Finally, providing a platform for knowledge sharing, through regular meetings and workshops, allows Kavya and Aarav to exchange insights, share their approaches, and learn from each other’s experiences. This collaborative environment empowers the team to tap into the combined power of Kavya and Aarav’s mindsets, driving innovation, comprehensive problem-solving, and the development of impactful solutions.


Embracing the duality of design and integrating diverse perspectives, such as those represented by Kavya and Aarav, is crucial for comprehensive problem-solving. Their collaboration brings together user-centred design and systems thinking, enabling teams to create inclusive and innovative solutions. By fostering a culture of collaboration, diversity, and open communication, design teams can harness the collective intelligence and creativity necessary to address the complexities of human behaviour. By challenging binary thinking and embracing diverse perspectives, designers can create meaningful and impactful solutions that cater to the multifaceted nature of our world.

The Canvs Editorial team comprises of Editorial Writer and Researcher — Anezka Virani, the Editor’s Desk- Aalhad Joshi and Debprotim Roy, and Content Operations- Abin Rajan. Follow Canvs on Instagram and LinkedIn. Don’t forget to follow us here on Medium as well for more design-related content.

Designing for complexity: embracing the duality of UX and systems design was originally published in UX Collective on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.






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