UX and service design

What is the difference between UX and Service Design and why UX alone is not enough

Service design has the same relationship with UX as the relationship UX had with UI design. 

The difference between UI and UX design is that UI focuses on pixel-perfect digital designs, while UX focuses on all the interactions that a user has to go through with the company. 

Service design may seem like a new term, but it is actually a superset of UX design. It is the set of all touchpoints/interactions that a user/customer has with the business. 

It is not exclusive to only the digital interactions, but it also includes analog or non-digital interactions and touchpoints as well. 

Another way to look at service design is that it is more centered on business processes. While UX is concerned about the interactions of the user with the company, service design is about the smooth integration of business processes that take place during these interactions. 

A website has two aspects, the backend and the frontend. Frontend is about the interactions with the user and backend is about enabling these interactions with the help of a infrastructure. UX is the frontend of any product, while service design is the backend of it. 

In this guide, we will walk you through the difference between user experience design and service design. We will also tell you that why UX alone is not enough for any business. 

The difference between service design and UX design

Before we move ahead, we must first understand what do these two terms mean, and what is the main difference between them both.

The UX design process

The UX design encompasses all the interactions that a user has during their buyer journey. It includes all the digital touchpoints from an app to the website. 

UX designers work to improve the user experience by simplifying the whole process for the user. Their main focus is to improve the overall usability of all the mediums that a company uses to interact with its users. 

The UX design process starts with research about the problems that a user faces, and then designers try to solve these problems with their design skills

The research is about empathizing withe the user and collecting the information about their needs. Then, the UX designer defines the design problem after looking at the problems faced by any user. 

The third stage is to ideate and come up with solutions to the problem. There can be multiple design solutions to the problem. And, once the designer is done with it, they move to create the first prototype. 

Prototype are then tested, and then the user feedback is collected. The loop continues after user feedback and it keeps going on until they find a perfect solution.  

For example, a company collects information about the visitors to its website. The company gets to know that 90% of the visitors do not scroll down on the landing page, and hence they return without learning anything more about the business.

The UX designer will then create a design that includes all the information in one screen, and a screen that doesn’t require the users to scroll in order to learn more. 

There can be other more creative solutions to problems that a user faces during the interactions. 

UX design
Source: https://devsday.ru/blog/details/21838

The service design process

On the other hand, service design is about simplifying the process that businesses use to interact with customers. 

It is not only limited to the digital touchpoints but also includes the physical processes as well. 

Imagine facing an issue that urges you to contact customer support. You visit the website, click on the live chat feature, and a representative listens to your issue. All the interactions that took place from the decision to talk, to actually having a chat make up the user experience. 

On the other side, the representative would have accessed a database, which might have to lead you to a specialized person and whatnot. All of the activities that took place at the backend of the interactions make up the service design.  

We hope that the example above clarifies the difference between them both. 

Service design process journey
Source: https://slidebazaar.com/items/service-design-process-journey-powerpoint-template/

Where is the line between SD and UX?

As stated above, everything that a user interacts with comes under the umbrella of UX. While everything that a business/company goes through during those interactions is part of service design.

UX Alone Is Not Enough

Running a business with only a proper UX process is like running a website with only a frontend. It will be of no use. 

Historically, the organization of any business is done in accordance with the user touchpoints/interactions. The business processes are optimized to best suit the customers, providing them the best user experience. 

It means UX is of primary importance, but we cannot ignore the fact that without a proper service design, businesses won’t exist. 

UX and Service Design work Together

The frontend and backend analogy is real. Both UX and Service Design work together. Each one of them depends on one another. 

A business that has smooth business processes but has a terribly designed website is a failure. Similarly, a business that has an awesome website but is slow in addressing user queries is also destined to fail. 

In order to operate and succeed in this modern world, you should work on both sides of the spectrum. 

Successful businesses have a solid service design along with carefully designed digital touchpoints that enhance the overall user experience. 

The bottom line is to provide your customer with a high-quality experience and ensure that your business processes run smoothly.  

UI vs UX vs CX
Source: https://dribbble.com/shots/15707937-UI-vs-UX-vs-CX

5 UX principles by a service designer

As we have talked a lot about the difference between service design and UX design. Let’s discuss the top 5 UX principles shared with us by top service designers.

1. Involve your user and show some character

Have you wondered what is the purpose of UX and service design in the first place? 

That is to improve the overall customer experience. And, it is not possible without involving your user in the process. How could you solve the problem without involving the person who faces it in the first place? 

Even though the design is an intuitive process, but involving users and showing some empathy will help you solve the actual problems that users face. 

When you’re solely focused on design, you see things from your own point of view. This is a great idea if you want to create something aesthetically pleasing, but to solve problems, you must involve the user.

Showing some character means making your designs more human-friendly. Include the colors and aesthetics that make the whole process enjoyable and loveable.

2. Context is key

How users interact and react to your designs depends upon the context. It is highly important to pay attention to it. 

It means to create designs for devices that your users will be using. Try to optimize your designs to best fit all of the screens sizes your customers will use to interact with your app/website. 

Taking context into consideration also means designing your apps/websites in such a way that is usable in most situations. 

Some designs are highly usable in office indoor environments, but they become awkward as your use them in outdoor conditions. 

You need to take care of the color schemes, design elements, and icons you use in your designs. And, make sure your apps/websites are accessible in all conditions and environments.

3. Consistency

This is something obvious about any design. Your design should be consistent, consistent with the use of colors, icons, and all the design elements. 

It also means that your design should work seamlessly with the functionality of the apps/websites. And, it should be consistent across all the pages. 

When designing User Experiences, try to avoid using crazily innovative ideas regarding colors and design elements. Creativity can help, but creating something that seems completely new will only make it difficult for the users to get used to your app.

4. Know where you are in the process

It is quite easy to get stuck in creating (designing) something new. Sometimes, you spend several days deciding the color scheme, while you’re still in the process of collecting information about the features. 

Have a systematic process of designing the user experience. It will help you stay on track with the stuff. 

5. Begin with the end in mind

Goals are very much important at every stage. When you’re designing a new User Experience, you have different goals with different pages. 

You need to prioritize the most important KPIs while creating new designs. What is the most important KPI for each one of your pages? Keep these KPIs in mind while designing. 

When we keep these KPIs and our goals in mind, what we are actually doing is we are working towards an end. This keeps us on track. 

Therefore, it is recommended to begin with the end in mind and design for your goals. 



UX Design Principles
Source: https://pixetic.com/blog/ux-design-principles/

A Final Word

UX design and Service Design may sound similar but they are two different categories of design. The main difference is their objective. 

The objective of UX design is to create a smooth experience for the user and help them the most at every digital touchpoint with the business. 

Whereas, the objective of service design is to create a smooth experience/flow of the ‘business operations’ that help the user in their journey.

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