The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

Service design resources

Definitions of service design from a number of trusted sources.

Service design - Definitions

Service design looks at the entirety of the service (‘wide’) at a high-level, and digs down into the detail (‘deep’).

It covers the entire service from the business and user’s perspective.

A service might be citizen-facing, or an internal business process that only internal staff use. In both cases it’s still a service.

The service designer’s job is to ensure that the entire service is providing the value and benefits that the users expect and the organisation wants, balancing user and business needs.

From UK Government Digital Service

  • “First, let’s be clear - service design is the design of services. To a user, a service is simple. It’s something that helps them to do something - like learn to drive, buy a house, or become a childminder."
  • "Service designers design the end-to-end journey of a service. This helps a user complete their goal, and government deliver a policy intent. In this role, your work may involve the creation of, or change to, transactions, products and content across both digital and offline channels provided by different parts of government.”

Interaction Design Foundation

  • Service design is a process where designers create sustainable solutions and optimal experiences for both customers in unique contexts and any service providers involved.
  • Designers break services into sections and adapt fine-tuned solutions to suit all users’ needs in context—based on actors, location and other factors.

The principles of service design

  • Service design is all about taking a service and making it meet the user’s and customer’s needs for that service.
  • It can be used to improve an existing service or to create a new service from scratch.
  • In order to adapt to service design, a UX designer will need to understand the basic principles of service design thinking and be able to focus on them when creating services.


  • The purpose of the service design practice is to design products and services that are fit for purpose, fit for use, and that can be delivered by the organization and its ecosystem.
  • This includes planning and organising people, partners and suppliers, information, communication, technology and practices for new or changed products and services, and the interaction between the organization and its customers.

Extract from Axelos ITIL® 4 Practice guidance

Service Design - Wikipedia

  • Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its users.
  • Service design may function as a way to inform changes to an existing service or create a new service entirely.

What the £@*^ is Service Design? - Spotless 

  • So if we all design services, what the heck does a Service Designer do today?
  • Well, I think it is to be a facilitator and advisor to businesses. Often this involves getting the right people in the right rooms, manage stakeholders across different product teams and often just being there to listen to people’s concerns.
  • Service Design can, therefore, help create the need for more UX design and set up the right conditions for it to thrive and fit within the bigger picture.

What service design IS, and what it IS NOT - Meld Studios 

  • Service design is not the design of everything. Design is the design of everything.
  • Service design is a specialisation, just as graphic design, industrial design, and interaction design are specialisations. Each of these specialisations work with a particular form.
  • If I'm designing a service, I am either designing the end-to-end view of the service, or designing a service moment.
  • Within that service, there are environments, systems, people, and tools. I may not have the expertise to design the specific system, nor the expertise to design the environment in which the service sits, but I need to know the intent, what these things need to achieve in support of the service.
  • My work as a service designer can serve as a brief for other specialists, or better yet, we are working together, the designers with specialisation, to make a cohesive whole together.