There Is No Spoon
The need for adapting to each project as a new experience.
It was just a few weeks ago that I found myself in North Dallas one evening for the monthly Refresh Dallas meeting on the topic: “SERVICE DESIGN: WTH Is It And Why Should I Care?” I was most intrigued by the title and the general description of the presentation. By the time I left the meeting, I had a renewed excitement toward web design/development, and how websites are a small piece of a larger picture that we could provide.
I had fallen into the trap of viewing web sites as a standalone entity.
In a nutshell, Service Design is a variation of the web-based field of User Experience design. It is process that involves analyzing the products, infrastructure, communication, employees and customers of a business in order to improve the overall quality and the interaction between all phases of the business. It deals with refining the touchpoints where the customers and business interact. It is a relatively new concept for the U.S., but has actually been a growing field in Europe for well over 30 years.
For most businesses their website is the first touchpoint they will have with a customer. Give the user a pleasant experience, present them the information they are seeking, and that can lead them on to the next touchpoint, contacting the business directly.
It was during the meeting that I grasped a concept that the CEO of one of our clients had been wanting to move towards. What he had been describing, essentially, was Service Design.
The presenter that evening referenced two separate books, but one was an absolute must-read for anyone interested in the topic, “This Is Service Design Thinking” by Marc Strickdown and Jacob Schneider.
The book serves as an excellent introduction to the basic concepts, how the process should work, the tools used in the process, case studies both successful and unsuccessful, and some general philosophy behind Service Design.
This video is an excellent overview of both the basic process of Service Design, and what the book offers. I’d definitely recommend it as an introduction to the topic.
As I mentioned, I had fallen into the trap of viewing web sites as a standalone entity. I had not allowed myself to look beyond our web projects to see how I could go to the next level on any given project. It might be that I was not taking the time to see if there was some missed opportunity on the page that I myself had missed that would benefit the user. Or I may have missed presenting the client some additional functionality on a website that our client may not have been aware of at the start of the project.
An example of this is when the client wishes to reference a hashtag for tweeting. Why not provide a link that automatically generates a pre-filled tweet related to the hashtag?
At the same time, as a developer, I can also apply these design principles to advise the client to consider other aspects of beyond their web site. We may feel that their web site is not the issue, and there is some other direction they need to look towards that would better serve their business. Maybe they need help establishing a social media presence. Maybe a branding issue means we just need to refine the design of a website. Perhaps they need offline help, like a print ad or other print collateral.
Take a moment to consider if there is an underlying pain point that led a client to contacting you for a project. To quote the Oracle scene from ‘The Matrix,’ you have to realize that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. Allow yourself to adapt to each project as a new experience. Do not go in with pre-set notions on solving each project.
Use the service design principles to view projects how our client’s customers would view them, not how we as designers and marketers think they should.