There are so many design disciplines these days, I can hardly keep track of them! Whilst they commonly overlap with each other, it’s good to know when a service designer may be handy vs. when a UX designer is required. Service designers and UX designers are responsible for different parts of the customer and user experience, and work in conjunction to create a seamless process and product.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding the definition of UX Design. Oftentimes, roles and responsibilities of a UX designer will extend beyond creating and designing for websites and digital products. However, a pure UX designer focuses on the digital aspect and designs for web and mobile, and creates a product that helps those who use the product achieve their tasks in the best way possible (whatever “best” may be! – this will differ in projects).
In contrast, service design encapsulates both the end user of the product/platform whether it is physical or digital and the users within the company that are part of the processes that drive the whole experience. The aim is to improve processes for all the users, regardless of whether they are the paying customer or end user.
Although user experience (UX) was coined in the 1990s by Don Norman, who was the first person to have “UX” in their job title, this approach began in the 1940s when Bell Labs hired a psychologist to design the touchtone keypad on their phone. This is the keypad you’d see on a Nokia 3310 – do you remember these bricks?! Whilst the Nokia 3310 did not withstand the test of time, the touchtone keypad is still widely used today and is used on keyboards and numpads.
Lynn Shostack was a marketing manager and consultant who integrated the product and processes of a business to improve the experience of a customer and the company’s employees. In the 1980s, she championed service design via the service blueprint, which was a document which mapped the processes within the business and how this interacted with the users.
How do UX and service design work together?
UX is user focussed and digital focussed – therefore, it can overlook aspects of the business to achieve the optimal user experience. On the other hand, service design is quite generalist and whilst those in the field are able to scope projects effectively and consider broader issues, designing digital products usually require a specialist to create successful digital products. As the potential of technology increases there is a rise of UXers, and this will cause flux in businesses that demand the expertise of service designers.