By: Sarah
Posted: 17/01/2018

The unsexy side of service design

We’re in Dublin on the 29th January talking about the unsexy service designer at the Service Design Network Ireland Meetup. Are you there to? Come say hi or dia dhuit!


I’m excited to come back over after collaborating with our lovely friends at Cork County Council in 2017. It’s been great to see more of an emergence of service design practice in Ireland; I’ve been following the development for a while and it’s safe to say it’s bubbling over now, far beyond fringe activities.

Total service design

On the 29th January, I’ll be talking about the unsexy side of service design and our collaboration with Cork County Council on redesigning the representation process for elected members. I want to get down to the nitty-gritty of the mechanics around designing the user journey, the behind-the-scenes work that goes into bringing people on board, building relationships, aligning technical resources, interoperable data between departments, and more.

After all, this is the crux of making services work – joining up what’s on the inside with the wider system so it meets the needs of people using and delivering the service in the most seamless way possible.

In my humble opinion, this is total service design. Not just the activity of a glamorous profession and journey maps, but the reality of alignment and organisational design at the coalface to make the end-to-end experience work for people.

Spreading a mental model of user-centred focus

I’ll also be talking about the work we’ve been undertaking in reviewing the process of the Digital First Service Standard, an assessment process that ensures all digital services from Scottish Government meet needs and consider accessibility, technical eco-systems, and business continuity. This is an example of an implemented process seeking to rally organisations to deliver great services, reflecting many of the principles of service design. It should be said, much of this aligns with and comes on the back of work by people like Cat Macauley and other excellent colleagues in Scottish Government building a momentum for the Scottish Approach to Service Design under the Digital Directorate.

I’m interested in building literacy around some of the strategic products and processes that should be in place to help design really flourish as a specialist skill set within organisations, but moreover, spread a mental model of user-centred focus across departments and systems. This includes shared understanding, consistent language, constant hiring of talent, building networks, communicating clearly, joined up working, clear standards, constant design, and service patterns. All the things that are ultimately involved in the pursuit of designing great services.

Dublin – can’t wait to see you again.