UX designers can easily apply Service Design practices into their design processes for a more inclusive view on people, systems, and the world. But how exactly do they go about doing so?

First of all, let’s briefly discuss what Service Design means. Service Design is often defined as a broader, more holistic way to look at the lifecycle of products and services, as well as the ecosystems in which they exist. A Service Designer’s job is therefore to design the end-to-end journey, considering how a user can complete a goal from very beginning to end, and oftentimes across multiple platforms and services. To do this, a Service Designer needs to adopt a wide view as well as a more focused one.

To help you learn about Service Design and incorporate it into your UX work, we’ve put together 7 practices  that are small and can easily be included into any design toolkit. We’ve deliberately left out the standard practices common to both UX and Service Design—such as being user-led, iterative design cycles, test and learn, fail fast, designing with data, and measuring outcomes—to focus on those more specific to Service Design itself.

Read on to learn what you can think, ask, and do to adopt more Service Design practices into your work!

Practice 1: Encourage the Right Behaviors

When we design the interfaces, products, and services that people use on a daily basis, our designs have an impact on people’s behaviors. To incorporate more of Service Design into your efforts, your designs should be encouraging intentional user behaviors that make a ripple for the better.

Think

I can influence safe, fair and productive user behaviors in my design patterns.

Ask

Are my designs promoting behaviors for the better?

Do

Learn more about patterns to positively influence user behaviors from:

Practice 2: Design Services, Not Websites

As UX designers it is all too easy to take a vacuum approach to the design problem that only focuses on the interface, or a specific part of the experience. In reality, our designs need to consider a wider view, so that we design services, not websites—and understand how the various aspects of delivering a design might happen, and who and what may be impacted.

Think

I will take a holistic approach by considering what happens for the user, how it is achieved, and what impact it will have.

Ask

Where are the mutually beneficial opportunities for the user, the business and its impact?

Do

  • Use design-thinking tools such as value network maps and service blueprints to consider both what happens for the user and how it’s achieved.
  • Adapt these to include swimlanes for sustainable business models, fair practice, and systemic change.
  • Read more about designing services from Good Services and learn how to create a Service Blueprint that is both insightful and actionable.

Practice 3: Talk About It, Work Out Loud

When we are designing, we should be sharing and talking about what we’re doing as we’re doing it. Inviting users, support staff, communities, and teammates to take part early on in the design process builds trust and provides a supportive network of advocates for the product once launched. 

Think

The designs I’m working on are important and impactful, and the people around me want to know about it and take part.

Ask

Who can I invite to join in with the design progress, and how do they want to be involved?

Do

  • Read Show Your Work and learn how to think about your work as a never-ending process to share ideas, progress, and failures, publish your design journey on Medium.
  • Initiate a Working Out Loud practice in your teams and projects, and encourage people to adopt new approaches to communication and collaboration.
  • Run co-creation workshops and work directly with your users.

Practice 4: Be Usable By Everyone, Equally

Your designs should be usable by everyone who might need to use it. This means designing for a wide range of abilities and providing equal access for people who may otherwise be excluded.

Think

I will seek out sufficient research until I am confident that my designs represent diverse user needs.

Ask

Have I validated my assumptions with diverse research participants? Have I tested my designs with a wide range of users?

Do

  • Read up on inclusive design and then practice your inclusive design problem-solving skills using soften.design a design challenge generator.
  • For your personas, use photography that doesn’t perpetuate stereotypes, or Open Peeps a set of diverse people illustrations.
  • Don’t have enough data to represent accessibility? Use these data informed open source Accessibility Personas or try Cards for Humanity a generator for inclusive personas.
  • Always run accessibility tests on your designs as part of your usability testing.

Practice 5: Design to Keep People Safe

If your designs ask your users to provide personal data without a clear purpose, you are putting people’s privacy at risk. Begin by understanding why you need to collect the data and if it’s really necessary—remember: less is better.

Think

I am the guardian of my user’s personal data; my users trust me to only collect what is necessary.

Ask

How can my users control who can access their information and when, as well as what’s shared publicly vs. privately? What systems have been designed to safeguard their data?

Do

  • Write your privacy policies in Plain Writing so users can have more control over their data and their accounts.
  • Ensure your user research Consent Forms are fair, safe, and user-first.
  • Read up on the GDPR Policy—which, although only legally applicable in Europe, will better inform the way you think about data collection, consent, and ethical data storage policies.

Practice 6: Take The Paths Less Travelled

UX design tends to start by designing the happy path for the user. How does the user get from A to B with the fewest frustrations? But to design a more inclusive experience, other paths need to be considered too, and users should be able to meander through and rejoin without getting stuck.

Think

I have considered the alternate paths, and designed ways for my users to get back to the happy path.

Ask

What do we do when my users get lost, confused, or need to flag something? Who is there to support them? How do they contact them?

Do

Practice 7: Do Good, Design Good 

The world is working exactly as we designed it, not very well. As designers, we are responsible for the design work we put out there, in our pixels and interfaces, our products and services, and the people, communities, systems, business models, and institutions that use them.

Think

I am responsible for the design experiences, products, and services I work on, and the impact they have on people and the world. I will not turn a blind eye.

Ask

Are my designs taking into account their impact on the environment and other wider systems, and do they promote behavior change for the better?

Do

You Don’t Need to Be a Service Designer to Design Like One

Maybe you’re working on a new digital product for remote schoolers, or a service to encourage safer modes of travel post Covid. Maybe you’re building a new social share feature for pet owners, or an app to help people to start saving money. Regardless, all of your solutions will benefit from adding Service Design practices into your UX.

Applying even a few of the Service Design practices above can help you have a wider, more inclusive, and more purposeful view of the world, the people in it, and the impact your new product or service designs can have.That’s something that shouldn’t be understated!

To learn more about how to use Service Design to improve your UX design, check out our webinar.


To learn about other inclusive design practices, through rigorous curriculum and guidance from expert mentors like Crystal, explore our career-changing UX Academy program.

author avatar

Crystal Campbell

Mentor Lead

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