top of page
  • Writer's picturekristensunny

Leveraging UX Tools and Skills for Service Design

Transferable skills and tools that UX-trained designers can use as Service Designers

Like UX Designers, Service Designers come from a variety of career backgrounds and experiences, which helps bring new perspectives to design thinking. Service Design can be thought of us a sub-set or a specialization within UX Design, and for designers who want to make the transition from User Experience to Service Design, having training or experience in UX Design can flatten the learning curve. Because there are so many similarities between the two sectors, moving from UX to Service Design is a lateral step and many tools and skills can be used as "scaffolding" to support the transition.


Design Thinking

Design thinking, or human-centered design, is considered to be one of the pillars of Service Design. The ability to think strategically about how people use an interface, as well as how to solve for both business goals and user needs, can be similarly used in Service Design to determine how people experience services and how each touchpoint can be improved. Both UX and Service Designers need to be able to take a holistic look at the needs of users, customers, stakeholders, and staff (both customer-facing and back-end support) and consider the strategic design of omni-channel interactions.

Person looking at post-it notes on a white board
Image Credit: You X Ventures

User Research

The foundation of any great design is built on strong user research. Having experience with conducting user research, particularly field or ethnographic (qualitative) research, will help you understand individuals' behaviors and goals and the motivations behind them. This will allow you to become more user- or customer-centric and will help you better understand anyone involved in providing or supporting the provision of services. You'll likely also have the opportunity to interview internal stakeholders to determine business strategy and services. Being able to synthesize patterns and information from this qualitative data will provide invaluable insights into how your company can improve, streamline, and prioritize the design of a service.

Low-Fidelity Prototyping

Person sketching wireframes
Image Credit: Amelie Mourichon

Prototyping a service is a bit different than prototyping digital interfaces, but the outcomes are the same. In UX and Service Design, prototyping is a way to engage with your intended audience and determine quickly what does or doesn't work. Paper prototyping in UX Design is similar to "staging" in Service Design - with a little bit of play-acting and use of a script, you can see how your users or customers interact with your product or service. In addition, many services include digital interfaces, like a mobile app or kiosk, that require prototyping.

Team Collaboration

Both UX and Service Design require collaboration across teams and skill sets. Being able to communicate effectively and collaborate with internal teams is necessary to delivering products or services that are viable, feasible, and useful. Just like in larger companies, where UX Research, UX Design, and Usability Testing are often separated but work collaboratively, Service Designers must often find ways to work with researchers, UX Designers, marketers, and other staff, which requires thoughtful and strategic collaboration to design the right services.


Journey Maps

In UX Design, journey maps are useful for designers and stakeholders to understand user and customer experiences across touch points. They are a visual representation of what users or customers are doing, thinking, and feeling at each interaction with the company or product. Similarly, Service Designers use service blueprints to strategize about service delivery across touch points, including the customer-facing and back-end stages of delivery. Both journey maps and service blueprints capture touch points across channels. Journey maps focus more on the customer's experience whereas service blueprints explore service delivery processes, but they both consider pain points, opportunities, and omni-channel experiences.


Both UX and Service Designers use personas to gain a better sense of the goals, needs, and motivations of users or customers, as well as their specific environments, attitudes, and aptitudes. Personas are a great tool to drive empathy and to use as a prop in storytelling to gain stakeholder consensus. The tool can be used similarly in both UX and Service Design, but Service Designers may take a more holistic approach by creating personas for front- and back-stage service providers in addition to users or customers.


Just as UX Designers utilize design workshops to collaborate on wireframes with stakeholders, Service Designers facilitate collaborative workshops to identify potential areas of innovation and reach consensus on the design of that service. The lenses used are a bit different between UX and Service Design workshops, however; UX Designers focus on gaining consensus around product features and goals while Service Designers aim for consensus on areas of innovation and operationalization within a holistic service.

Person pointing to text on a white board
Image Credit: Slidebean

Final Thoughts

Since becoming a UX Designer I haven't been able to look at an interface or an experience without thinking about how it could be improved. Similarly, once you learn how to implement Service Design, you won't look at UX Design the same way. It provides a more holistic and comprehensive approach to design that, combined with the UX tools and skills you already have, will enhance how you strategize about design, business operations, and the processes that support successful interfaces.


bottom of page