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Merging Service Design with User Experience Design – Pt. 1: The Idea

18 Feb

A new design process is required to meet human needs in a world of exponential technological growth and a constant increase in customer expectations, says Erik Westerdahl, Digital Service Designer at Screen Interaction.

The behavior of customers is changing fast as new products and services are being released to the market at an ever-accelerating pace. We’re becoming more and more digital in everyday life, and our expectations are constantly increasing. Mobile browsing is bypassing desktop computing, and omni-channel experiences are becoming a “hygiene factor”.

Big data is the new “black,” and the Internet of Things is on the verge of breakthrough. New services, connections and products that we could previously only dream about will be created and brought to market within the coming years. In the midst of all this, established companies are fighting hard to stay relevant with old products, services and business models. Companies that decided early on to follow the latest technology trends are suddenly stuck with old, silo-based solutions that are becoming obsolete and costly to maintain.

Digital disruption & Creative destruction

Despite all of this, there’s a new generation of entrepreneurs who see the possibility to create better digital services and solutions. Not chiefly driven by an economical perspective, they feel the urge to satisfy human needs. A true incentive that creates a true need. These entrepreneurs create new economical structures and business models, and they take advantage of free online software and crowdsourcing platforms such as Kickstarter to elicit the funding they require to turn their ideas into reality. This gives them unexpected power to threaten old markets. The phenomenon is called “digital disruption”, and this new generation of entrepreneurs is sometimes referred to as “digital disruptors”.

“You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” - Steve Jobs, May 1997, World Wide Developers Conference.

The main principles of digital disruption are nothing new; it’s about satisfying human needs and using technology to accomplish that. It’s not about technological innovations; digital disruption simply uses the technology already available to create innovations. The potential effects of digital disruption are interesting, because in the long run, it can become a form of “creative destruction”.

Creative destruction is a hallmark of both capitalist and anarchist thought. It describes the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one”.

Today, we can see several of these digital disruptors challenging the old markets, such as Spotify, AirBnb, Uber and Netflix. Long-standing companies are threatened by this quick development and can no longer afford long research and development processes (which usually, once started, can’t be altered or stopped because the result was predetermined.) This kind of process is not equivalent to innovation. There is, however, a design practice which can be applied to services, processes, business models and products in order to alter them and make them relevant again, and it’s called “Design Thinking”.

Design Thinking

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”  - Albert Einstein, 25th may 1944.

In this new digital market, it’s obvious that we need new processes to keep up. We need to combine holistic thinking with hands-on development to see the technology patterns and human needs in everyday life and quickly translate them into early concepts and prototypes for user testing and business development. Service Design and User Experience Design are a potent mix of both. Each of them has its drawbacks and advantages, but together they complement each other. A successful holistic thinking model that can combine these design processes into a new design process is called Design Thinking.

Design Thinking is an open-minded approach to any given multi-dimensional problem that uses innovative methods to solve existing challenges and create new solutions. In the coming series of blog posts, I will describe the development process of merging Service Design with User Experience Design using Design Thinking at Screen Interaction, creating a new design process for a world in constant change. (Read Part 2: The Why)

 “Design Thinking is an open-minded approach to any given multi-dimensional problem” 

By /Erik Westerdal