A design isn’t truly completed until it is in use. But how can UX designers ensure that product teams understand the needs of the user, challenge their assumptions, rethink issues and, finally, generate creative answers that can be tested? The answer is service design.

Service design first came into being in 1991, introduced as a design discipline at the Köln International School of Design. Whether designers are at the start of a new project or trying to fine-tune an existing design, service design plays a crucial role in guaranteeing the needs of the user and/or customer are being met in the final product.

But service design isn’t just about the end result, as it incorporates improvements to the way that the UX designer and their organization accomplish their design work, too. Therefore, service design is equal parts the experience of the user and the experience of the employee.

Some of the tools UX designers are already familiar with are a part of service design, such as personas, customer journey maps, and service blueprinting. Designers can confirm they’re utilizing the elements of service design by answering these five questions:

Is the service user-centered?

Before a UX designer can be certain that the work is adhering to service design principles, they need to research the prospective user to gain a full understanding of what they need in the design. This is where personas come into play.

Is the design co-creative?

Including all key players in the creation of the service is important. No service design-centered process should be a one-person operation. Input from those who will be using the service is also vital. Their feedback should be documented in a customer journey map.

Does the service use sequencing?

Can the entire service be seen as sequences, or steps along the customer’s journey? Service design tasks the UX designer with visualizing the individual components of a design in conjunction with how the end user will experience the service. The goal is a unified design that works as efficiently as possible.

Has evidencing provided tangible results?

A major component of the service design process is the opportunity to fully test prototypes before a service is deployed to the customer and users. Evidencing also helps the user understand the various components of the service, and this understanding generates loyalty.

Is the service design holistic?

Every aspect of a project matters under the service design philosophy. Does the design consider every touchpoint a user might have in the entire service’s network of interactions? Basically, this point asks UX designers to consider if the service steps back and looks at the big picture for the user. This final question incorporates service blueprinting to verify that the entire design experience has recognized the user’s work and processes in creating and executing the design.

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