SDLeeds Thinks Transformation. [notes from event]

Yesterday evening  I attended two talks hosted by SDLeeds, which covered ideas regarding transformation through a service design process. A reoccurring theme  throughout both talks, was the role of technology within service design.

avatar_pauls_originalPaul Sims, from ‘Made by Many’ spoke about how he felt service designers should be focussing on making services rather than only selling services. This perspective shift means less attention should be spent on strategy and infrastructure re-designs. It also suggests that designers should be working in a low-fi world to continously prototype, by making and learning, in order to eventually build only really relevant and effective services. Paul argued that it is better to go out and talk to people, and then make small services happen, than it is to get stuck in the trap of creating a big design promise and vision, that is impossible to deliver. For him, service design is about creating touch points (points of access) for an engagement or action that a user wouldn’t normally have access to. 

qClaire Rowland, from ‘Alert Me’ added to this theme,  with the examples of  smart home technologies, which are becoming more popular and accessible. Despite being exciting touch points, for new engagements and relationships that  users would not normally have with their house environment, it  has also emphasised a big problem about the idea of home services which rely heavily on technology, because, for a lot of people their home is a refuge, and is the last place they want to feel overwhelmed by technology.

Claire suggested that a solution to ease this, is by using a design approach that is human centric as opposed to device centric. This means that when it comes to creating a service which uses modern technology, trying to make it as engaging and interactive as possible might be the wrong approach, and so instead an approach which tries to make an interaction simple enough so that a user does not have to think about it, in order to understand it, may actually prove to be more successful.


Ideas that I want to pull out from these talks and consider for my Masters project include the notion that technology is often overwhelming for some people, and also the idea that design approaches to problem solving which focus more on technological abilities, than on human behaviour and habits may not deliver successful services.

I think based on the knowledge that both Paul and Claire gave regarding their experiences in service design, perhaps when it comes to my own project, I need to begin my work process by understanding the needs, rationales and beliefs of those who are excluded by online services, in order to see how my touchpoint design will change.

Based on Paul Sims idea that a service is the layer that wraps itself around an engagement, I wonder what forms of ‘engagement’ will emerge, in a service design process which focusses on discovering the needs and habits of those excluded from the traditional western service design portfolio of technology and web based platforms.