We each use a large number of services every day. Service design is a method for improving or creating a service. Taking a service design approach means looking at a service through the eyes of the people using it. This involves spending time with those people and ensuring you experience a service for yourself as much as possible. As you are then starting from the needs and requirements of service users, and looking for solutions together with these users and other stakeholders, it means a service is much more likely to do only what it is supposed to.
Service designers describe the ‘journey’ a service user (customer or patient) will go on through a service. The entire service journey needs to be understood before the individual elements that make up a service can be designed or improved. As you can imagine, each step in this journey might look completely different, like how an ambulance, paramedic’s equipment, car park, hospital reception, hospital bed and hospital interior all form part of one service journey through A&E and to better health. As a result, in service design, a wide range of design and business disciplines need to come together, such as ethnography, consumer research, interaction and web design, product design, graphic design, interior design, service marketing and corporate strategy.
Designers are creative problem solvers that think visually and make things. This is important because they use prototypes and create things quickly and effectively in order to test them on people to see how and if they work. This makes designers and the work they do inherently ‘people-centred’ as things are created to fit the people that use them.
The SPIDER Project used service design to create opportunities and improve services for young people looking for work, training or to go into further education and designing services that allow older people to live independently for longer. The project was a transnational project funded by the Interreg IVB programme.