From UX to Service design: my thoughts

February 18, 2021

UX design versus service design.

If you’re a newer UX designer like me, you might not even know what service design is! Service design and UX design are along the same spectrum, but are often very different when it comes down to the day to day tasks involved.

Since UX is funded by the tech industry and talked about frequently, it can take a lot longer to come across service design, even if it might be a great fit for your career goals

Service design is about the big picture of all the touchpoints, not just one (like digital) and involves a lot of strategy and stakeholder management. The quintessential sticky notes on a wall are what a lot of people might first think of when it comes to service design, but it also involves a lot of mapping of processes, prototyping things like customer service scripts, not just UI screens.

For me, I’ve gone to school for interaction design, and originally was planning on taking more of a UX path, until I was exposed to service design processes and tools.

My journey to service design

During my early years of design school, I focused on the visual craft. I came from an art focused background and wanted to retain that artistic work within my design practice. Over time, the spark for research and strategy grew as I took courses in research foundations and got to try my hand at different qualitative and quantitative practices.

In the summer before my third year, I started my current role as a designer and researcher at  Say Yeah, a UX and service design studio, I didn’t know what service design was, but I was quickly introduced to the practice through helping out with these projects and helping to draft reports.

I soon realized that I didn’t want to be confined to just being involved in the UX side of design, and craved the cross-touchpoint impact that service designers have on organizations and projects.

Why service design?

The core reasons why I wanted to learn more about service design was when I discovered that it allowed me to make a bigger impact on different parts of the organization, and across a longer time horizon. I also could be involved with more “people” work and build relationships with stakeholder teams.

Service design in particular was really satisfying in terms of this kind of large scale problem solving. Ultimately, a lot of organizations need service assessments and other support before they can effectively use other design interventions like digital product design, so it’s great to be on the “front lines” of this transformative work, particularly in the digital service design space.


Some of the books I used include:

  1. Practical Service Design
  2. Service Design Network’s Touchpoint
  3. Service Design: From Insight to Inspiration
  4. This is Service Design Doing

Designers and organizations to follow:

  1. Sam Sadasivan
  2. Linn Vizard- founder of Service Design Toronto
  3. Megan Erin Miller- ½ of practical service design
  4. SDN-Service Design Network
  5. Service Design Canada

All of these resources continue to help guide me in building my service design practice, and it's super critical to keep learning continuously as this newer field evolves!