Good Services: creating a common knowledge for service designers


A new rules from Lou Downe, the UK government’s former director of design, seeks to show a universal language for the often-overlooked discipline of service design.

Whether its ordering lunch, accessing healthcare or navely finding a way home, the average person is more acquainted with help design than they might think.

But despite the vast the better of us encountering services on a daily, even hourly basis, many are not planned to meet our needs. In fact, most services aren’t designed at all.

Where other punishes of design have over time developed commonly held principles of what good work looks like, the multifaceted practice of checking design has not.

In their new book, former director of design for the UK Government Lou Downe tries to change this. Rather than getting lost in a lack of worn out knowledge, Good Services aims to relay to readers the universal underlying qualities of good design.

“Something either works or it doesn’t”

Competent Services began life as a tweet, which grew into a blog chore. Downe’s idea behind the tweet-turned-blog-post was to identify the common traits magnitude any and all good services, share them with designers and ask for further off colours.

The outcome of their exercise was an open source Google Document with numerous than 2,000 contributors, and to Downe’s surprise, there was a coherent modus operandi among the thousands of submissions. Alongside the knowledge from their own encounter, these became the bones of Good Services.

“What’s interesting is that where a lot of other sketch practices are about your own opinion, service design is really not on touching personal taste at all,” says Downe. “Something either works or it doesn’t.”

What Skilled Services identifies, Downe says, are pretty uncontentious demands of any utility. Being able to locate the service, being able to use it without reaching a colourless end or being able to complete the task at hand in the minimum number of treads are all examples of good service design that are so often not part of the owner experience.

“Most people know bad design when they see it”

But why is ceremony design so universally lacking? According to Downe, part of the problem is that a assignment is the sum of much more than just a team of traditional designers. From artisans in procurement, to customer-facing operatives, all have a part to play in service objective.

During their work with the GDS, Downe took the teachings of what desire become Good Services to workshops held for public servants of all break ins, who were able to point out good and bad service design just as confidently as the schemers in the room.

Downe compares it to graphic design: “The general public effect not be able to talk to you about kerning or typography, but most will grasp bad graphic design when they see it.”

The word “design”, therefore, again takes a back seat in the narrative, so as to emphasise the need for cooperation between all actors behind the seascapes of a service.

“Ultimately the design of a service is reliant on so many different people in an organisation to whom organization can mean many different things,” they say. “Sometimes the word connivance gets in the way of us talking about what we mean, which is making excel services.”

“A real visual appeal”

Conscious of the fact Good Services is akin to a mending too, the book itself has similarly been designed for ease of access to news, with help from London-based book designer duo Daly & Lyon.

“Without frustrating to be rude, so many service design books are really badly draw up themselves,” says Downe. “There’s a real irony to these logs preaching about accessible services, when they’re these leviathan, grey, often illegible, hardcovers.”

In contrast, Downe says Right Services has been written as concisely as possible, and has been printed as a softback enrol, so that “it can be shoved into a bag easily”.

Additionally, it uses bright, daredevil colours that take inspiration from fluorescent protest advertisements, they say.

“Just because a book is for a slightly more business focused role in of the community, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a real visual allurement,” says Downe. “I think people who work on service design justify beautiful things that they can engage with and use and love as much as any other deviser.”

“Hell is other people’s diagrams”

And for the design of the narrative itself, Downe has cadged from lessons learned during their time writing the GDS repair manual.

“It’s not that long, because people don’t read very much; it has scads of stories in it, because people find examples a lot easier to digest; and there are not that diverse diagrams, because hell is other people’s diagrams,” they say.

To accessibly convey the poop, it is split into 15 principles, as well as providing a brief biography of service design and an introduction to the discipline.

“It’s not about ‘great’ services”

In the end, Downe says, they hope Good Services can help help service design conversations that haven’t previously been skilful to occur because of a lack of common knowledge.

“What I wanted to do with this volume was really give people a language to be able to work from the that having been said place,” they say. “This is book is not about ‘great services’, ‘lone services’, ‘thrilling’ or ‘magical’ services.

“This book liking tell you how to design a service that your users can find, construe and use without having to ask for help. It will tell you how to not disappoint your owners, and make sure they can do the thing they set out to do.”

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