Thinking broader: Add a layer of service design to UX projects

Thinking broader: Add a layer of service design to UX projects

One of my first projects as a UX Consultant was to create and test the value proposition of an educational game designed for students. I followed the Double Diamond approach in this scoping project, in which I discovered, defined, developed and delivered.

  1. Discovery: Conducted research to understand requirements and drivers of the game
  2. Define: Created wireframes to flesh out what the game could look like
  3. Develop: Created a prototype and conducted usability testing to test the game
  4. Deliver: Produced a discovery document to inform the next step of the game

Three years passed and we are now working with the client to design and build the game.

I have since learnt more about design thinking, customer experience design and service design (For those who are not familiar with these terms, we cover what they mean and how they’re different in another post: ‘UX 101:  Understanding user experience, customer experience, and service design’). It makes me wonder, what could I do differently? How could I practice service design as a UXer? And should this be a focus area for me?

It’s not about implementing service design, it’s about thinking broader

Upon reflection, I came to the realisation that maybe it is not so much about how to implement service design or being a Service Designer, but about thinking broader.

Let me explain…

Take the educational game we conceptualised three years ago as an example. There are a few components to it: a public site that introduces the game, a logged-in teacher section that contains teaching resources, and a logged-in student section that contains the game.

From a traditional UX point of view, the research question may be – how usable are each of the interfaces? Given this research objective, it is appropriate to conduct usability testing on each interface and it is appropriate to speak to teacher and student separately.

But, does this really tell us what the experience of interacting the game will be like, or how effective it will be in reaching its core objective of educating children on its topic of focus? What if we add another layer to it? What if we think a little broader?

In this case, a broader and more effective research objective might be – how are teachers going to incorporate the game and materials provided into their teaching and how are students going to react and engage with it in a classroom setting?

This is not a question that traditional UX research techniques were designed to provide answers to. Essentially we need a method that tests the effectiveness of the various facets of the service (i.e. educational game, teaching resources, dashboard) across multiple touch-points (i.e. lesson planning, lesson delivery, assessment of knowledge acquisition) within a limited timeframe, without turning a blind eye to the usability of the online artefacts.

Knowing this, we need to look beyond the interfaces and do something broader than usability testing. In this case, we recommended doing a combination of Experience prototyping and Usability Testing. This is so that we can have a zoomed out view of the experience as a whole, as well as a zoomed in view of the usability of the interfaces.

Experience Prototyping is a form of prototyping that enables design team members, users and clients to gain first-hand appreciation of future conditions through active engagement with prototypes. It also allows designers to think of the design problem in terms of designing an integrated experience, rather than one or more specific artefacts. On the other hand, Usability Testing refers to evaluating a product or interface by testing it with representative users.

This project was originally planned as a more traditional UX engagement in which we intended to conduct usability testing with each audience. However, thinking outside the traditional ‘UX’ box, and taking a broader service or experience design approach, has enabled the team to explore how the experience of the game will play out in the classroom. Incorporating the service design methodology into a UX project allowed us to truly explore the touch points across the journey, and how the artefacts interact and impact on one another. This has given the team an opportunity to design a holistic experience that truly meets the needs and matches the contexts of each of the user groups involved, thereby increasing the likelihood of success of the game.

UXers are broadening their scope beyond interaction design

As predicted by the State of UX in 2018, UX specialists are broadening their scope beyond interaction design to focus more on strategy, business, and services. After all, as experiences continue to become more multi-channel, it is important that we do not silo the design of each channel. With this in mind, let’s not be constrained by the labels, titles or the original intent of the projects we are involved in, but instead, focus on doing more to achieve the best end result we can by thinking a little broader.



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