Book Cover

Shelley Evenson Interview
Service Design


Why is service design important?

According to one IBM report, today more than 70 percent of the U.S. labor force is engaged in service delivery. New technology has enabled internationally tradable services. We are at a tipping point. A huge portion of the economy is now focused on knowledge-based information services. I believe that as we shift to this service-centered society, it won’t be good enough to view services from a purely management or operations-based perspective. Companies will need to turn to service design and innovation to differentiate themselves in increasingly competitive markets and to create opportunities that address new challenges in the service sector.

How is designing a service different than designing a product?

When designing a product, much of the focus is on mediating the interaction between the person and the artifact. Great product designers consider more of the context in their design. In service design, designers must create resources that connect people to people, people to machines, and machines to machines. You must consider the environment, the channel, the touchpoint. Designing for service becomes a systems problem and often even a system of systems challenge. The elements or resources that designers need to create to mediate the interactions must work on all these levels and at the same time facilitate connections that are deeply personal, open to participation and change, and drop-dead stunning.

What can interaction designers bring to the design of services?

Interaction designers use methods in their process that can be directly applied to service design. Immersive ethnographic methods can help designers account for the complexity of service elements that are onstage, backstage, visible, and invisible in the service experience. We add a kind of theater or enactment to our service process. Enactment is when first the development team and then participants from the delivery organization act out the service experience with specific roles and rough props. I’ve seen this become technique become more popular with interaction designers in recent days. Developing constituent archetypes or personas is also useful in service design since the characters can be used to drive service scenarios before they are enacted. Nearly all the methods introduce in this book could apply.


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Shelley Evenson is an associate professor and director of graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design. Prior to her academic career, she was vice president and chief experience strategist for Scient, director of design at DKA/Digital Knowledge Assets, director at Doblin Group, and vice president of Fitch. She has published a number of articles and presented papers at numerous conferences on design languages in hypermedia, interaction design, design research, and service design.


Table of Contents

Read an excerpt "The Elements of Interaction Design" in UXmatters

Marc Rettig interview excerpt on Interaction Design's History and Future

Hugh Dubberly interview excerpt on Systems Design

Larry Tesler interview excerpt on The Laws of Interaction Design

Brenda Laurel interview excerpt on Design Research

Robert Reimann interview excerpt on Personas

Luke Wroblewski interview excerpt on Visual Interaction Design

Carl DiSalvo interview excerpt on Designing for Robots

Adam Greenfield interview excerpt on Everyware