The strong influence of practitioners' background still contributes to shape the evolution of service design. As boundaries between digital and physical progressively blur, the differences between similar or overlapping disciplines become less clear.
Despite theoretical perspectives, in ordinary practice "service design", "design thinking", "strategic design", "product service system design" appear to be only different names given to the same approach.
former Portfolio Director, Financial Service Design at IDEO,
It's all design thinking. Using design methods to solve problems. Within that, service design is specifically looking at designing complex services. Services composed by different touchpoints that require different design disciplines. So it's how to design them in an integrated way and which one to use, when. Should this involve more people, more screens, more space? It means deciding how to draw the levers.
I don't even know what that strategic design means. Maybe it is the application of design thinking specifically to solve business problems: using design tools in terms of framing, structuring and strategizing without going as far as making things. But that's a bit fuzzy.. Design without any making is a little bit weak.
at Livework UK
“Strategic design and service design are quite related and they definitely partially overlap. I believe LiveWork is located in this "intersection". I think you could do service design focusing more on how you realise the service and environment: service design would mean focusing more on the implementation and less on the strategic - which is what strategic design is about in my opinion.
PSS is obviously product and service related. You probably are doing something similar to service design whereas sometimes you might be focused more on the product and sometimes more on the service.. And then you have design thinking, which seems to be in a way becoming less popular all the time: I think it's just a way of thinking - and sort of selling design to business. There's probably a bit of design thinking in all of them."
Founder at Resonant Design and Innovation Ltd,
former Head of User Experience at Plan
“Digital services are exactly what user experience people have been doing! Just because UX has become predominantly about digital, it doesn't mean you don't have to deal with all those system levers.
It is funny that those days there's still a separation! I mean both practices are meant to be human centered in some ways and yes, service design tries to look at a broader canvas, but user experience has become this small thing focused on the user interface side. I believe it is just unfortunate because good user experience people are not that at all. But, to be honest, in user experience there's more roles, there's more money to be paid, it's more tangible what can be done with it.”
Service Design & Strategy Consultant
at Livework Rotterdam
“In my opinion design thinking is an attitude, that any designer has. It is not a set of tools or a methodology. It doesn’t mean more than that, it is just a word, adopted by IDEO and used for marketing purposes. Design thinking is what subtends any kind of design action – being, industrial, interaction and so on.”
Director at Livework UK,
Founder at Strategic Design Resourcing
“To me it's all applying design to service businesses. That's the topline view I have. Service businesses make the large bulk economy these days and that's an important thing to focus on.”
Senior Experience Designer
“That is what I think is happening to service design in general: it feels like it is being diluted in business consulting. A designer knows why he wants to build a prototype, knows what he wants to test and knows that playing and getting his hands dirty enables the possibility to come up with new solutions.
This is something a business consultant doesn’t have, and that’s why I'm conscious that many call themselves service designers today, but the design and craftsmanship aspect of this work is getting lost.”