Why call it Service Design?

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Designing Designers

Written by Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)
Feb 14, 2014


I don’t get why it’s called Service Design?

Especially when Service Design also considers products and systems in a 3-pronged holistic ecosystem? Or don’t they?

If so, why not call it Product design or System Design? Both disciplines do consider the other two.

So designers in Service Design are called Service Designers.

So do they provide design services, or they design services? Shall I get into what Product Designers or System Designers do?

Haha. We designers like to make our lives difficult, don’t we?

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Xin Yi
Feb 15, 14 – 2:01 am

Wim Rampen
Feb 16, 14 – 8:13 pm

Service, in Service Dominant Logic, is defined as the “application of competences (skills and knowledge) for the benefit of another”

Service Design attempts to design a Service and the exchange thereof with the aim to enable (maximization of) the co-creation of value.

Nothing difficult about defining it.. gets harder when trying to do it ;)

@wimrampen on Twitter

Adam Lawrence
Feb 16, 14 – 8:31 pm

It’s no secret that I loathe the name “service design”.

It consists of two terms which people think they understand, and which they understand wrongly.
“Service”, they think, means being nice to customers.
“Design”, they think, means making things pretty.

So they hear “service design”, think they understand it, and nod. If you then ask them what they think it means, they double check look confused and – if they can express their understanding at all – express something utterly cosmetic and trivial,

I would prefer “service design” were called “zooblemobbleflop”. At least they would ask, “what is that?.

(In my company, we talk about service innovation and customer experience. That confuses fewer people, and overlaps with their KPIs better.)

Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)
Feb 27, 14 – 10:52 pm

Hi all, sorry for the late reply as it has been hectic.

@Xin Yi– haha, don’t get me started with that article! It partly inspired me to write this post. Calling it experience innovation does not help one bit.

@Wim Rampen– Ah yes, Service Dominant Logic. Thanks for brining it up. I’m pretty familiar with SDL, but in reality it gets confused with traditional marketing terms of products and services. The difference being only that one is tangible and the other intangible. The definition of SDL is in itself too broad and therefore limited as people do not understand it. So yes I agree with you that trying to do it is the hard part.

@Adam Lawrence– I’m with you Adam! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Wim Rampen
Feb 28, 14 – 4:10 am


I think you will agree with me that in reality services and products are integrated more and more these days. Making the distinction serves no purpose anymore. It may sound familiar and therefor easy, but in fact you are overcomplicating things by separating services and products.

If you recognize that there’s no distinction you’ll start to realize that products, services, and their integrated combinations, provide a service for their users: they help people to get their job done.

If you approach your design/innovation/whatever challenge from the perspective of helping you Customer get their job done, you’ll find yourself less constraint compared to approaching it from the challenge of designing/innovating products or services.

Or, in short:
Service design is all about designing the way you are going to help your Customers get their job done by bringing your specific knowledge and skills to the table..

Apr 12, 14 – 10:52 am

Haha so true

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