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Service Design – The Beginner’s Guide

Service design - bus station

Service design is where UX intersects with business process. It takes a step back and looks at every aspect of an experience and how it is impacted by different processes, environments, technology and service propositions.

In the same way as UX it should always be founded on user needs, but the business and technical impact to deliver those needs must be understood clearly and managed.

The Discovery Phase

One of the crucial parts of any service design project is understanding what you are trying to accomplish and what the current experience of a service is. You must also understand how your customers and staff experience the service on a very deep level.

Beginner’s guide to Service Design Discovery

The Service Design Phase

This is where service design and traditional UX start to diverge.

The two main differences are likely to be:

  • The scale of service design and business transformation is often much larger than a typical UX website redesign or app
  • The prototypes and experiments you are going to be testing may not always be digitally focused

For this reason we split the service delivery into 3 distinct phases: Alpha, Beta and Live.

Alpha phase

In the Alpha phase you are going to start conducting experiments in a controlled test environment. This phase normally lasts around 6-8 weeks and is where you test solutions to meet the challenges you identified in discovery A small, Agile team is needed to deliver this phase.


Beginner’s guide to Service Design – Alpha Phase – Coming soon

Beta phase

In the Beta phase you are going to stress test your service design at scale normally with a subset of your total user base. Your team may need scaling up, and additional disciplines might need to be added.

Beginner’s guide to Service Design – Beta Phase – Coming soon

Live phase

The work isn’t done once your service is live. Iterating and learning continues.

Beginner’s guide to Service Design – Live Phase – Coming soon

Before you start

If you are still learning the ropes of UX we recommend starting with our Beginner’s guide to UX first.