Creativity Design Innovation

Service design:  Basic tutorial

Service design:  Basic tutorial


Service design is the simple application of design as a process to develop services. It’s a method to structure the revival of existing services and develop new ones that reflect the standards that users currently expect.

Clunky, unclear, time consuming bureaucratic systems will simply be unacceptable by clients and customers of the future. We are undergoing a cultural digital transformation that demands simplicity. You might be able to ignore updating your systems for now, but your competition certainly isn’t.

The opportunity here is to use service design, or more accurately design thinking, as the method for incubating innovation. Design offers a multifunctional framework to develop services, culture, products, business strategies even company parties.

The best way to understand service design is to try it out, so we’ve prepared something special for you. If you are new to service design or just looking for a cheap way to do some team building, we’ve created a six stage one day program to try out.


What you will need


Firstly, a current service. Pick one of your services that seems to be lacking or choose an example business you have service-related beef with.

Second, time. You will need to get some time allocated with no distractions for at least one whole day.

Third, willing bodies. If you can, get a cross section of your business, five people should do. Decision makers, designers even the cleaner, all these people have valuable perspectives that you need.

Fourth, an agenda. Plan out your time, you will over run. You could spend days on each of these but try and keep it to an hour per activity.

Fifth, tablet templates. You’ll need either to print off 30 blank tablet templates or a box of craft supplies, depending if your service is digital or not.

Sixth, an open mind. Listen to one another and stay on topic without jumping ahead.

Seventh, post-it notes, so many post-it notes. Don’t forget the pens, because everyone else will.




1)      Start with value

What do you value? Understanding what your business values can be difficult, but it’s vital for having a long-term decision-making plan. Start by writing out your values, then try condensing them down into three key values.

Advanced level: Reduce your values into a three word ‘why statement’.

2)      Understand your users

It’s easy to spot the pitfalls in services, except your own. Look at your services through the eyes of your users. Start by mapping out your user’s journey through your services. Think how they arrive at your service, then note each interaction and action both you and your users have. Pay attention to how they might feel at each and every stage.

Advanced level: Map out your current service from multiple perspectives, including deaf, blind and non-tech savvy.

3)      Ideas, ideas and more ideas

Using the problem areas, you identified from the user journeys, with your values in mind, think of over one hundred different solutions or alternative services that would be ideal for your business. Don’t think if an idea is feasible or realistic, just fire out ideas.

Tip: Everyone should have a pen and post-it note pad in their hand, not one person writing all the ideas.

Advanced Level: Cluster those ideas into levels of feasibility.

4)      Test it, break it, remake it

Prototyping is just a fancy term for making a ‘mock-up’ or model of something like a service. Designers use them to communicate solutions, test with users and develop better ideas. You will do the same. Assuming your service is digital, use your tablet templates to create a service flip book with each new slide representing an interaction your user has with your service. Alternatively, get creative with your glue gun, and create something that represents your service idea.

Tip: It doesn’t have to look pretty; it just needs to communicate your idea. Rough looking is an advantage here.

Advanced Level: Be critical, find a way to ‘break’ your idea and remake it.

5)      Get feedback

It’s time to face the noise. Get people to give you feedback on your idea. Push yourselves to ask people from outside the business, maybe go to a coffee shop and ask around there. Alternatively, share it on a service designer group and ask them to give their thoughts on it. They can be brutal, but it’s always useful.

Tip: Don’t be precious and don’t defend your idea.

Advanced level: Let other people change your idea, allow them to add slides in or take them out.

6) Evolve

Finally, take everything you’ve learnt and feedback you’ve gathered, redevelop your idea and improve the quality of your prototype. Do this until you think your idea is worth taking forward. Present this to your colleagues and get further feedback on your idea.

Advanced level: Present your idea as if on ‘Dragons Den’ or to a business board of directors.

To conclude, this is a cut down version of service design, and we would suggest you seek professional user researchers and service designers before progressing to production. Time spent here is double the time saved later.

If you have given this guide a go, we want to hear what you think. Your feedback is what allows us to deliver better content that ultimately helps you and, make services better for everyone. If you want a more in-depth experience into service design, we can come to you! Just contact us and we can help you get the knowledge you need.

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