Service Design Glossary
A mix of old and new...

Service Design is a new mix of existing practices, new terms, current values, and evolved methods and skills founded in the traditional design disciplines. As part of our research we take part in defining this practice. Here are some of the words we use a lot at the moment...

Service Design

live|work definition: Design of experiences that reach people through many different touch-points, and that happen over time.

Service Ecology

A service ecology is the system of actors and the relationships between them that form a service.

Mapping service ecologies is a process we use to establish a systemic view of the service and the context it will operate in.

We map actors affected by a service and the way they relate to each other in order to reveal new opportunities and inspire ideas, and to establish an overall service concept.

Ultimately, we strive to create sustainable service ecologies, where the actors involved exchange value in ways that is mutually beneficial over time.


Service touch-points are the tangibles that make up the total experience of using a service. Touch-points can take many forms, from advertising to personal cards, web- mobile phone- and PC interfaces, bills, retail shops, call centers and customer representatives.

When we design services, we consider all touch-points in totality and craft them in order to create a clear and consistent unified customer experience.

The tangible touch-points of the service is one of the key factors that determine people's experience of service quality.


Service evidence are designed touch-points that represent parts of a service experience.

In service innovation projects we often start mapping assumptions within and outside of an organisation about the future, and animate these ideas as tangible evidence of the future. Both negative and aspirational futures are embodied as designed touch-points.

We focus as much on the effects of possible designs as the design of the service itself. Therefore evidence are not only core service touch-points, but often third parties' response to an innovation such as newspaper articles describing the results of the service.

This type of "archaeology of the future" enables us to make early qualitative judgments about the implications of a design. Evidencing can be done as a workshop, or as more focused production of touch-points. Ultimately it allows customers and collaborators to "play back" their own assumptions as concrete experiences rather then abstract evaluations.

Experience Prototyping

Service experiences are intangible, may take place over a lifetime and have multiple touch-points, media and modes. Therefore, services are prototyped in a different way then products.

We look at prototypes of a service experience as an equivalent to the way a product or architectural model prototypes the object. We design multiple service touch-points, set the scene, the place and the time of a service experience, and establish a way for participants to suspend their disbelief, in the way that theatre is able to temporarily transport an audience.

We use experience prototypes to do rapid service prototyping, involving customers, experts and clients in developing and refining services.

Service Blueprint

A service blueprint is an operational tool that describes a service in enough detail to implement and maintain it.

Central to a live|work blueprint is that we design around the customer's experience. Therefore, the blueprint builds on 'use cases' or 'customer journeys' through the service and all touch-points and back-stage processes defined in the blueprint are aligned to the user experience.

The blueprint is used by both business process managers, designers and software engineers during development, and works as a guide to service managers that operate services on a day-to-day basis.

Service envy

We can think of products as serving two basic needs; to perform the function they are engineered to do, and to confirm and communicate the owner's set of values. The second function is crucial. Products help us identify ourselves through a complex product and brand language. If we want to make people desire services more than products, then services will also have to communicate these values.

If we want to make people desire services more then products, we have to create services that help people tell each other who they are. Our major challenge is to enable people to express who they are through the use of services instead of through ownership of things. We must create "service envy".