Service Design: Pushing Us Beyond the Familiar

Baseline: Friday

The day before had been a Friday. For this shop, Fridays are like most weekdays. Customers come into the store at a regular pace. There’s often a small rush first thing in the morning, and most of those customers have appointments and are already in the system.

Chaos: Saturday

When we showed up on Saturday, there was already a line in the parking lot. These folks were new customers, coming to get an estimate on new work.

Stumbling into Service Design

Unbeknownst to us, we had stumbled into a service design problem. Between Friday and Saturday, the application hadn’t changed. The user was the same user. What had changed was the context of use. Suddenly, something that was previously helpful was now an impediment to the business.

Service Design Is an Extension of Digital UX Design

Most of today’s user experience work is done on some sort of digital device. It involves an application or web site. Solutions involve moving bits around on a display.

Service Design Pushes Us Beyond the Familiar

In digital user experience design, we think about a lot of things. We conduct user research. We work on the visual design, the interaction design, and the information architecture. We focus on the written copy and put together a content strategy to manage it.

Extending UX Practices

Let’s look at user research: Today, many organizations conduct usability tests as their primary user research activity. They put their users in front of their digital designs and watch what happens. From this, they learn what works and what doesn’t, giving them insight in how to make the design better.

Service Design is Unavoidable Today

Just like 20 years ago when our team visited the auto repair shop, teams today will get pulled into non-digital service design. It’s unavoidable.



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Jared M. Spool

Jared M. Spool

Maker of Awesomeness at @CenterCentre/@UIE. Helping designers everywhere help their organizations deliver well-designed products and services.