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Keeping Connected Business Challenge

Design methods for developing services

Service design toolkit thumbnail

We have put together a brief introduction to why design methods can be useful when developing services. 

Download a PDF copy

If you’re new to service design:

  • You can use it to familiarise yourself with a typical process that designers use when developing products and services.
  • It will give you an idea of what to expect from working with a designer.

If you’re a designer:

  • You may well be familiar with all of this already, but you may find this document useful when explaining common service design methods to others that are new to them.

About design

‘Design is what links creativity and innovation. It shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users or customers. Design may be described as creativity deployed to a specific end.’ – The Cox Review of Creativity in Business, 2005.

Design has many definitions, but at its heart it is about the process of translating ideas into reality, making abstract thoughts tangible and concrete.

Whether it’s for a new service, a piece of graphics or an innovative product, a number of key attributes underpin every design-led project. These fundamentals should inform the responses to the Keeping Connected Business Challenge, ensuring design-led solutions that enhance independent living and quality of life for older adults.

Why work with a designer?

User understanding

Designers look to understand the needs and desires of the people who will use a product or service by spending time with them. This approach ensures solutions are both fit for purpose and desirable to the people who will use them. By focusing on human stories and insights designers build empathy for users, and ensure ideas being developed are relevant.

A tool for collaboration

The Keeping Connected Business Challenge involves collaboration between multidisciplinary teams. Designers make things visual and tangible – they draw pictures, they make models; this allows the complex or ambiguous to be made simple and straightforward. Doing this allows ideas to be rapidly communicated and understood, which in turn fosters collaboration between designer, partners and users.  


Designers work iteratively to test their ideas and improve them throughout the entire development process. Making an idea tangible from an early stage through cheap mock-ups helps save resources and can minimise risk.

Prototyping can be applied to both products and services, and allows real world feedback from users that ensure better, more relevant outcomes. It can be quick and cheap and allows a solution to be iterated and improved before it is rolled out.

Using design to develop great services

Service design is all about making the services we use usable, easy and desirable.

Services are all around us – buses, shops, libraries, dentists, restaurants and the post office help us get to work, get our food, or keep in contact with each other.

A service happens over time and is made up of touchpoints – the people, information, products and spaces that we encounter. For instance a menu, a chair or a waitress are all touchpoints that make up a restaurant service.

Service design is the process of creating these touchpoints and defining how they interact with each other and with the user. To design a great service it is important to have a service’s users in mind: are they staff, suppliers or customers? Using design tools and methods can deliver an in-depth understanding of user behaviours, their likes and their needs, which can enable new solutions to be developed.

Service Design can be used to re-design an existing service to make it work better for users, or it can be used to create an entirely new service.

Download a PDF copy of Design methods for developing services


The Design Process from Design Council on Vimeo.

What can design bring? from Design Council on Vimeo.