Modelling and simulation are becoming essential for new fields such as synthetic biology. Perhaps the most important aspect of modelling is to follow a clear design methodology that will help to highlight unwanted deficiencies. The use of tools designed to aid the modelling process can be of benefit in many situations. In this paper, the modelling approach called systemic computation (SC) is introduced. SC is an interaction-based language, which enables individual-based expression and modelling of biological systems, and the interactions between them. SC permits a precise description of a hypothetical mechanism to be written using an intuitive graph-based or a calculus-based notation. The same description can then be directly run as a simulation, merging the hypothetical mechanism and the simulation into the same entity. However, even when using well-designed modelling tools to produce good models, the best model is not always the most accurate one. Frequently, computational constraints or lack of data make it infeasible to model an aspect of biology. Simplification may provide one way forward, but with inevitable consequences of decreased accuracy. Instead of attempting to replace an element with a simpler approximation, it is sometimes possible to substitute the element with a different but functionally similar component. In the second part of this paper, this modelling approach is described and its advantages are summarized using an exemplar the fractal protein model. Finally, the paper ends with a discussion of good biological modelling practice by presenting lessons learned from the use of SC and the fractal protein model.