Service Design and Saving the World – Principles, histories, manifestos, for good and change

Module 2. Brief 3. Week 9.

Society & Purpose

For this Brief I will be asking, how can design bring about change for society for the good? Looking into the area of Service design, a well-explored area of design that is used to bring about change.

It highlights historical purpose. Artists and designers have used it to destruct political and social injustice. I will be researching this further in this weeks lecture.

This week I will be asked to select a global, social or political problem that I want to reflect. I will also be selecting a designed campaign and evaluate its effectiveness.


Service design – what is it? “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 customers”.

The book ‘This is Service Design Thinking’ by Marc Stickdorn states that there are 5 key elements that make it up.

  • Project management – to optimise new services
  • User-centred – people are always at the centre
  • co-creative – the collaboration of different teams
  • sequencing – key moments in a customers journey
  • Evidence – proof makes it tangible

To analyse all of these areas there are a number of methods of investigating. From customer journey maps, which look at the best and worst parts of the services. To service blueprints, which allows you to see the users viewpoint in a more holistic view.

Persona – helps you create a design that will work around your target

The following quote was mentioned in a talk from the Design Council. “How public services are ‘designed’ is central to their purpose, their function, their character. Design is about the application of hard disciplines, not soft furnishing.” 

This field is relatively new, although it has been observed for centuries, by artist as activist. The printing press (Gutenberg) allowed activists to spread messages through imagery multiple times. This formed newspapers. This is the way satire was formed. A global movement, with magazines being produced globally, in the UK we had, Punch. 

Slogans and visual graphics were not only shared through print or in gallery or exhibition. The Sufferagets used placards to share their message. Posters have also been used in recent history for many activist campaigns. We can all recognise the ‘Hope’ poster from Barac Obamas presidential campaign back in 2008.


How can graphic design bring about change to society for the good?

We see design being used for good in so many walks of life and points in history. From print to digital to experience design. Design that is used as a tool for so many people. We also see designers today who work purely ‘for good’ projects and it has formed its own form of design. 

Service design allows us to see the process that a user has and gives us the ability to improve that direct line of interaction between the design or end product and the consumer. 


Task 1: Research User-Centred Design Processes or Tools

  1. Research three user-centred design processes or tools that can be used to discover a core need or problem e.g. customer journey maps, service safaris, a day in the life, cultural probe, double diamond.
  2. Select one process and write a short 100-word description to illustrate how it can be used to discover an insight or challenge.

1. Customer Journey Map.

“A customer journey map is a visual representation of every experience your customers have with you. It helps to tell the story of a customer’s experience with your brand from original engagement and into hopefully a long-term relationship.” I imagine this route of service design to be extremely helpful to lay out the full experience of the user. This method would highlight every success and downfall that the process currently has and allow you to improve on the journey as a whole but amending these small steps.

2. Double Diamond.

“The Double Diamond is a structured design approach to tackle challenges in four phases: Discover /Research— insight into the problem (diverging). Define/Synthesis — the area to focus upon (converging). Develop/ Ideation— potential solutions (diverging). Deliver /Implementation— solutions that work (converging)”. This method of service design is one that is widely recognised and is used frequently in many areas of design, as looked into in Module 1.

3. Service Safaris.

“Service safari is a great research method which allows you to look across all channels and deep dive into a project or subject area. It allows you to walk in the footsteps of users, experiencing a task, product or service as near as possible to how they would.” This method is directly linked to the customer journey map, however, rather than having a visual map, this method allows us to fully experience what the customer does. Walking in their shoes, we can completely understand every step of the process.

Double Diamond: 100 Words

The Double Diamond approach can be used in many instances through different design areas including service design. Breaking up a project and distilling it into these organised sections allows you to project management in a much more organised way. ‘Discovery’ (diverging) allows you to research the problem and fully discover what it is. ‘Defining’ (converging) gives you the opportunity to really narrow down what it is you are investigating. ‘Developing’ (diverging) a range of broad ideas that could work to solve the problem at hand. ‘Delivering’ (converging) a final succinct answer to the problem that will successfully solve it.

Task 2: Research Existing Campaign or Service Design Project

  1. Research and select one existing campaign or service design project that tackles a social problem and analyse its effectiveness. Please remember to include information about any user-centred design processes that may have been used and the impact it brought about.
  2. Write a 300 – 400 word description with screen grabs to illustrate your research findings.

For this challenge of finding a service design project for good, I believed that DK&A were the agency to look at. They believe design has the practical power to create positive change. Kester Associates, a strategical design consultancy, have a wide range of projects on their site. Their recent project for ‘Empowering SAP to lead the revolution against plastic’ is one that is very in tune with the current climate crisis that we are facing. From the project, they wanted to gain real-time analytics on the global and UK plastics lifecycle. The well-known software company SAP wanted to do their part and help the current situation. So they turned to DK&A to research into our usage of single-use plastic. 

Although the climate crisis has such a wide variety of factors contributing to it, single-use plastics is one the largest contributor, but there is something we can do to reduce that. To tackle such a widely discussed topic, they collaborated with 15 industry clients to use the platform that they were creating. To do this they worked with real people who they were to receive data from to gain real information. Through original ethnographic research, they wanted to review the whole lifecycle of their interaction with plastics. From their decision making when purchasing, to their individual disposal processes. This is a very personal investigation because committing to receiving data for a length of time 24/7 is extremely intrusive, so the way they go about conducting this information truthfully is difficult. They produced an app that allowed the participants to track every moment they came into contact with plastic by taking a photo that automatically got sent back to the research team. This image allowed them to see what types of plastics were being most used, where they were getting them from, how they were being disposed of. All of this data was time tracked and could be compared by location. This allowed the team to come up with some fascinating data. 

Their approach was to use an application for ease of use, this meant that they weren’t always watching everything they did, only their interaction with plastic that they had to share. This means the subject wasn’t interigated completely and more people would be willing to take part. Also, the use of an app that simply takes a photo means it is easier to record than other methods, such as a simple diary. This also took the responsibility to record the type of plastic away from the participant and left to the researchers, so the information recorded would be more accurate. However, with all research, some information could have slipped through the cracks as they may have forgotten to take a photo of every single interaction if there was no constant reminder that they were being tracked.


This week was my first look into the service design industry, one that is used to tackle real-world problems and is often used for good. From research methods that respect and gain insight into real issues. To the ways in which that information is used to design work for good, there are a range of ways we can see if being done today but also decades ago. Many design agencies now focus solely on this new area of service design to bring about good, using research and information. I will be looking into this further over the coming weeks where I will be forming a project of my own within this field. 

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