Design for Adaptability and Flexibility

Designing for adaptability and flexibility means creating products or services that give the user more control over their experience, whether by including design features that allow for user configurability, or by building products or services that can easily be shared, remixed or repurposed by the user (e.g. building a digital tool using modular components). In addition, designing and building extensibility into products and services means that they can be used for a longer period of time, thus reducing their cost and increasing their reach.

Adaptable and flexible products and services sustain the design process by actively supporting their own unexpected, creative, and ongoing redesign (by users). This redesign may include adding alternatives or customizations based on specific user requests, or adaptations made based on personal needs (that in turn meet the needs of others). In this way a product becomes a living system, capable of changing to meet current and future needs, thus making it more sustainable.


  • Include features and technical frameworks that allow for user configurability
  • Provide features and technical frameworks that allow the sharing of information and ideas among users
  • Build digital tools using modular components
  • Provide features and channels for user feedback