Mobile UX Service Design

What is Service Design?

In our field, we often tend to hear the phrase Service Design. Service Design is basically applying holistic user-centred design methods and processes to on- and off-line services. The Design Council has put together a good introduction to the field.

“A service is something that I use but do not own […] Service design is therefore the shaping of service experiences so that they really work for people. Removing the lumps and bumps that make them frustrating, and then adding some magic to make them compelling.”

[vimeo 131860129 w=640 h=360]
In my personal experience, Service Design is often triggered by the opportunity of providing a better customer experience at a better cost by using mobile, digital technology. In the last 7 years, most of the opportunities of innovation in service design are coming from the mass adoption of internet-enabled, touch-friendly smartphones.

However, my interest does not stop with Smartphones. Often, working on a Service Design project is an opportunity of tackling the design problem from a holistic perspective, looking at the experience through different touchpoints, such as email, post, retail points, customer service and so on.

Customer Journey Maps, for example, are a great tool for documenting existing customer experience, and show how customers shift through different touchpoints to reach their goals. Customer Journey Maps strongly resemble user flows/journeys, with the exception that the design needs to represent multiple channels, in a swim lane fashion.
customer journey map
Source: Service Design Tools

Ethnographic research methods can be required to fully understand the context of use. In my experience, ethnographic research projects are really good at getting under the skin of a product or service. It’s a great way of stepping outside our comfort zone and put ourselves in the shoes of the customers.

If you are a designer and you are interested in getting to grips with the methods and techniques of Service Design, I would recommend this book:

This is Service Design Thinking
(BUY on

This little video introduction hints about what the book covers
[vimeo 20527888 w=640 h=360] This is Service Design Thinking – Book Trailer from Captain Motion on Vimeo.

Other useful Service Design resources

Service Design Tools

Service Design Network

HCI Human Factors

Aviation, Human Factors, Automation and Modes

As a design community, we tend to forget how User Centred Design is not only employed in building customer-facing experiences. UCD and Human Factors are also used to design plane cockpits, submarine and nuclear power plant C&C rooms. The latest episode of 99pi does a great job of explaining why designing for automation can mean the difference between life and death.
Human Factors have a long history in Aviation. The first Human Factor studies were carried out during WWII, and focused on incidents related to human error and such. With the advent of automation, one of the key roles of Human Factors has always been to design automation in such a way that human lives would not be in danger, or at least reducing the risk of that happening.

I was lucky enough to work tangentially to Human Factor design professionals for a few years at Thales, and look at decision support system, naturalistic decision making, Abstraction hierarchies and all that sort of things.

With automation playing an increasing role in a number of areas, think of self driving cars, what can history teach us in designing such interactive systems? Automation can be a double-edged scimitar; when it works it’s great, but when it fails it leaves the pilot with a serious lack of hands-on experience in flying the plane.

Automation can prevent mistakes caused by inattention, fatigue, and other human shortcomings, and free people to think about big-picture issues and, therefore, make better strategic decisions. Yet, as automation has increased, human error has not gone away: it remains the leading cause of aviation accidents.

From a New Yorker article: The Hazards of Going on Autopilot

The more a procedure is automated, and the more comfortable we become with it, the less conscious attention we feel we need to pay it. In Schooler’s work on insight and attention, he uses rote, automated tasks to induce the best mind-wandering state in his subjects. If anyone needs to remain vigilant, it’s an airline pilot. Instead, the cockpit is becoming the experimental ideal of the environment most likely to cause you to drift off.

In the cockpit, as automated systems have become more reliable, and as pilots have grown accustomed to their reliability—this is particularly the case for younger pilots, who have not only trained with those systems from the outset of their careers but grown up in a world filled with computers and automation—they have almost inevitably begun to abdicate responsibility on some deeper level.”

Enjoy the 99pi podcast, ‘Children of the Magenta

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