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DT:TV Case Studies

Designing a Digital Service

A third of the methods used in The Digital Transformation Approach are design methods. These are especially useful when developing digital services. Design has many different definitions, but at its heart it is about the process of translating ideas into reality, making abstract thoughts tangible and concrete. There are general activities common to all designers. The Design Council has developed the ‘Double Diamond’ model to illustrate this. Divided into four distinct phases: Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver, it maps how the design process passes from points where thinking and possibilities are as broad as possible to situations where they are deliberately narrowed down and focused on distinct objectives:

Design Council’s definition of Design Thinking technique

Designers seek to understand the needs and desires of people who will use a service through spending time with them. This ensures solutions are both fit for purpose and desirable to the people who will use them. Designers focus on human stories and insights and build empathy for users, to ensure ideas being developed are relevant. Designers work iteratively through prototyping to test their ideas and improve them throughout the entire development process. Making an idea tangible via producing a cheap mock-ups helps save resources and can minimise risk, prototyping services encourages real world feedback from users that ensure better, more relevant outcomes.

Service Design

A big challenge in Digital Transformation projects is considering how best to digitise something people are used to doing through analogue channels (through paper, or in-person). Service design is about making services  usable, easy and desirable. A service happens over time and is made up of touchpoints – the people, information, products, experiences and spaces that we encounter both in the real world and online via digital devices. Service design is the process of developing  touchpoints and defining how they interact with each other and with the end user. Are they staff, suppliers, or customers? Using design tools and methods can deliver an in-depth understanding of staff, supplier, or customer behaviours, their likes, preferences and needs.

If you are considering designing a digital public service, then the UK’s Government Service Design Manual is useful to help you learn about the discovery, alpha, beta, and live phases of service design.

Service design toolkits have been created by many great design focussed organisations, and although they are copyrighted to them, the tools have been made open source through Creative Commons licenses. A good designer will pick and chose which tools to use with each client dependent on their bespoke needs. Check out our Useful Links to the most easily usable service design toolkits!