Conceptual design of a three-in-one (luminescence chromophore with electron and hole transports) system was demonstrated by a functionalized Ir(iii) complex 3, in which 4,5-diazafluorene and bis(diphenylamino) serve as electron and hole transporting sites, respectively. The poor emission quantum yield of 3 was systematically examined via a series of photophysical studies in combination with theoretical approaches. The far lifting of the π-electron from -NPh 2 renders virtually no 3 MLCT contribution to the lowest transition in the triplet manifold as compared with that of the parent model 2 without amino substituents. With an empirical approach, we conclude that an energy gap law may account for the major deactivation process. A light-emitting electrochemical cell (LEC) device based on 3 shows peak EQE, peak current efficiency and peak power efficiency at 2.4 V of 0.020%, 0.013 cd A -1 and 0.017 lm/W, respectively. The low device efficiencies are in accordance with the low PL quantum yield, stemming from the ligand-centered radiationless deactivation. The conceptual design presented here should provide valuable information for future progress en route to an ideal three-in-one system suited for OLEDs.