Service design, the next big thing?

Service design, rivoluzione o buzzword?

Traditional economy has always made a clear distinction between tangible goods and services.
Today, however, things have changed, there is no longer a distinction between goods and services but rather a continuum in which material goods are disguised, supported and incorporated by and into services.


With the creation and introduction of increasingly complex services comparable to an ecosystem, it is necessary to introduce strategies able to support them. Practices related to user experience design that at this point seemed to be the solution but actually it is not.


Normally, the practice of UX design involves solving problems within a well-defined boundary, such as the design of a specific product or touchpoint. But when you need to design a whole service it is necessary to introduce new tools and above all a new mindset with a broader vision, which allow the management and the design of an ecosystem.


Service design is specifically talking about the design of services. It draws on many concepts, ranging from user experience, marketing and project management in order to optimise new services. “It’s the activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its customers.”

The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers or participants, so that the service is convenient, competitive and relevant to the customers.

Service design and human-centered design

One of the main principles of service design practices and methodologies is to put people at the heart of the design process. Following the logic of human-centered design, the end users are actively involved in the design, from the exploratory, generative, up to the evaluation phase, with a view to co-creation.


A furniture designer should be human-centred, understanding the context and needs of the people who will be using the furniture. 
A graphic designer should be human-centred, in understanding the context and the needs of people who will be engaging the materials designed. 
A service designer should be human-centred in understanding the context and the needs of people who will be engaging with the service. 

Design Thinking

One of the methodologies and processes that is most often used and associated with service design is design thinking.

Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systematic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer).

Design thinking is about applying design process, tools and methodology to problem solving, without indicating the focus or “object” (tangible or intangible) of design.


It can be used for:

- the design of a service
- designing an operational strategy
- to come up with ideas for how to launch your marketing campaign
- come up with your customer value proposition

This is what makes it so entirely appealing to the business world looking for better ways of working, no matter what industry they work in.



“Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” – Tim Brown CEO, IDEO


Service design powers strategy

When there are problems within the ecosystem of a service these inevitably reflect in poor service, frustrated customers and employees. This is why design should be considered as a crucial part in the business strategy.


Service design can be both strategic and tactical. It helps organisations imagine a future where their service is transformed in a critical and worthy task. 
Service design is making organisations more agile by prototyping customer engagements already early in the idea creation stage and eliminating assumptions and risks that can be the cause of expensive project failures.

2019 is going to be great for Service Design…and there is more to come

Service design is getting more business relevance and organisational impact. If until recently, organisations didn’t even know they needed a service designer, now something has changed.


Looking back at last year’s trends, service design will play a crucial role in delivering value to businesses and their customers.
It is an exciting time to explore the potential of service design and practice it in new and challenging situations.

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