History & Futures – Week 9: Service Design & Saving the World

Service Design Tools

Thoughts on Week 9 Lecture & Resources

My lecture notes for Week 9.

This week’s lecture was certainly thought-provoking. I can absolutely see the merit in the Service Design approach to solving a design problem – taking into account how exactly a product or service will be used, along with examining who the target user is, in the widest sense, can only be a positive thing, and will almost certainly result in better design, and projects that are fit for purpose.

5 Key Principles of Service Design:

  1. User-centred – Putting people at the heart of it.
  2. Co-creative – The design process should involve other people, especially those who are part of the system/service.
  3. Sequencing – Services should be visualised by sequences/key moments in the customer’s journey.
  4. Evidencing – Customers need to be aware of the elements of a service. Evidencing creates loyalty and helps customers understand the whole service experience.
  5. Holistic – The design takes the entire experience of a service into account.

Art, Design and Activism

The Centre for the Study of Political Graphics was founded by Carol A. Wells, an American art historian, and since 1988 it has amassed a collection of over 80,000 human rights and protest posters from around the world. She says: “The posters are historical records of people’s struggles. Historical records of people who fought to make the world a better place.” (quote from Week 9 lecture material)

Do Women Have To Be Naked To Get Into the Met. Museum?
A 1989 work by Guerrilla Girls. Image via Tate.org.uk

The above protest poster uses the familiar visual approach of advertising to get the message across. It was created in 1989 by a feminist art collective, Guerrilla Girls, to provide a highly visible comment on the lack of representation for female artists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Ignorance = Fear. (1989) A poster by Keith Haring. Image via Tate.org.uk

Human-Centred Design

I discovered that there is a wealth of open-source tools for those who wish to apply a human-centred mindset to design problems.

IDEO, a not-for-profit design studio, produced a useful guide to human-centred design, which breaks down the service design process into 3 key stages: inspiration, ideation and implementation. They also provide case studies demonstrating the design thinking in action with real-world examples.

The organisation has also created a website, Design Kit, which is dedicated to educating people about human-centred design. Service Design Tools is another valuable resource with an array of online tools and templates for service designers.

Workshop Challenge

Task 1: Research User-Centred Design Processes or Tools

Below are 3 examples of user-centred design processes or tools that can be used in order to discover a core need or problem:

  • Customer/user journey maps
  • Personas
  • Service prototypes
A diagram showing the origin and evolution of different service design
tools over time. Image via Service Design Tools. (Click to view larger.)

Customer journey maps

A customer or user journey map can be a useful tool in designing a service or product. It provides a big-picture overview of a customer’s journey, recording each step or potential interaction they will have with the service/product. Having this kind of virtual map can help to identify where and when a customer first encounters the service, right down to what their options are at every stage. Viewing the system as a whole can give a reassuring sense of consistency if executed well and allows the designer to iron out any issues, creating a smooth experience for their customer.

A map showing Disney’s approach to customer experience journeys (from 1957). Image via Success by LiveChat

Task 2: Research an Existing Campaign or Service Design Project

Case Study: The Social Bite Village

Social Bite is a Scottish charity and social enterprise on a mission to end homelessness. One of the ways they help to do this is by offering homeless people employment and training, giving them opportunities and a chance to develop skills.

Their innovative Social Bite Village project, which opened in Edinburgh in July 2018, is built on former disused council land. It was conceived as a supportive, community-based approach to help people facing difficulties due to becoming homeless, after consultation with individuals who had experienced living in temporary accommodation. The typical situation was that the housing offered was not suitable and did not enable inhabitants to break free from the cycle of homelessness.

In an effort to address this, they envisaged a more holistic method to tackle the issue. This involved rethinking housing and taking a tailor-made approach. Housing at the Village comprises 10 “NestHouses” (shared by two residents each), designed to be high quality, energy efficient and sustainable eco-homes. The project is collaborative and one of the project partners is Hillcrest Housing Association, who manage the Village facilities and help to maintain them to a high standard.

One of the Social Bite Village NestHouses. Image via Social Bite.

Social Bite also work closely with Cyrenians, a local charity that supports people experiencing homelessness via a residential community model, where highly trained volunteers live alongside people who were previously living on the streets. This is a good example of a user-centred approach, where the people directly affected are placed at the heart of the project. This residential community model was adopted by Social Bite Village, to provide people (or to be more formal, their service users) with a home and the best chance of success, whilst supporting their health and wellbeing, and offering opportunities to develop new skills.

Social Bite Village logic model.

Looking at the logic model for the Social Bite Village (as seen in the Social Bite Impact Report 2018-19), this could also be described as a system map, because it demonstrates all the different aspects of the project, its participants, as well as the partners involved in delivering the service and depicts the flow of the how these elements interact. I believe that having this big-picture overview is a factor in the success of the project to date, because Social Bite have a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve – both in the short and long term – as well as the components or considerations that could have an impact on the outcome.

System Map concept. Image via Service Design Tools.


Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Available at https://www.politicalgraphics.org/ [accessed 24/03/2021]

CHAPIN, Bree. ‘Customer Journey Maps – What They Are and How to Build One.’ Toptal Design Blog. Available at https://www.toptal.com/designers/product-design/customer-journey-maps [accessed 07/04/2021]

Cyrenians. ‘About Us.’ Available at https://cyrenians.scot/about-us [accessed 07/04/2021]

IDEO.org. ‘The Field Guide to Human-Centred Design.’ Design Kit [ebook]. Available at https://www.designkit.org/resources/1 [accessed 24/03/2021]

POLACZYK, Justyna. 2016. ‘The Magic of Customer Experience: Lessons from Disney on How to Improve the Customer Journey.’ Success by LiveChat. Available at https://www.livechat.com/success/customer-experience-disney-journey/ [accessed 07/04/2021]

Service Design Tools. ‘Personas.’ Available at https://servicedesigntools.org/tools/personas [accessed 07/04/2021]

Service Design Tools. ‘Rough Prototyping.’
Available at https://servicedesigntools.org/tools/rough-prototyping [accessed 07/04/2021]

Service Design Tools. ‘System Map.’ Available at https://servicedesigntools.org/tools/system-map [accessed 07/04/2021]

Service Design Tools. ‘Tools.’ Available at https://servicedesigntools.org/tools [accessed 07/04/2021]

Social Bite. ‘About us.’ Available at https://social-bite.co.uk/about-us [accessed 07/04/2021]

Social Bite. ‘Social Bite Impact Report 2018-19.’ Available at https://social-bite.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SB_ImpactReport_2018-19_Electronic.pdf [accessed 07/04/2021]

Social Bite. ‘What we do.’ Available at https://social-bite.co.uk/what-we-do/ [accessed 07/04/2021]

STICKDORN, Marc and Jakob SCHNEIDER. 2011. This Is Service Design Thinking: Basics, Tools, Cases. Amsterdam: BIS.

WELLS, Carol A. 2015. ‘Can Art Stop a War and Save the Planet?’ [online lecture]. TEDx. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQKNkmuZ7V8 [Accessed 24/03/2021]