Career Advice
May 25, 2022

How to get into service design?

How to get into service design?

Service design is the act of managing the system design through planning, infrastructure, communication, and the component of a product to improve the product quality between the service provider and its users. It could be creating a new service or improving an existing service. You can read more on ‘What is a Service Design?’ here. This expertise is important to enhance the service of products to work efficiently without experiencing any issues using the products. .

This week our mentor Gavin Mandrelle, a Service Designer at RMIT University, in Australia is more than happy (again) to share more information with you, ‘How to get into Service Design?’. This topic covers the soft and hard skills you need to have and build and the resources that will support your career as a Service Designer.

According to Gavin, if you are thinking of transitioning or involving yourself in this industry, you must ask yourself the reasons you want to be in the service design industry. Is it because you love to explore the front and back-end processes of a product service? Or you have experienced (enough) poor service design, and want to solve service design problems one step at a time and save the world! Or perhaps you want to venture into something different that is in demand in the tech industry?

Whatever your reasons are, let’s get to know what are the 2 reasons that made Gavin want to be a Service Designer.

For me, it was primarily two things: Firstly, I was starting to find graphic design quite monotonous. Secondly, I did not find my graphic design role personally fulfilling mainly because I was working to a final end output/product without much input from the product user - ‘product’ being print material. Service design sometimes doesn’t begin with a final output/ product/solution. The research drives the solution. I find this really enjoyable. - Gavin.

Below are some of the main characteristics of skills (but not limited to) to be a Service Designer

How do I prep myself to becoming a Service Designer? What are some skills to help make a transition into Service Design? 

1. Empathy (understand users’ problems):
Understanding the users’ point of view, current map journey, and the issues they are facing will help Service Designers to improve the service the way the users want it to be. Users want to be heard and Service Designers will gather the information they receive to thrive for a better experience. Like a peacemaker between the service provider and their users.

2. Improvisation (aim for a better experience):
Always feeling motivated to achieve a user-friendly experience. How to make an existing product design or build a new product design that has an excellent user experience? A service designer always looks for ways to improve a product service that satisfies its users.

3. Interpersonal skills (reach out to others for better data):
Service designers
are constantly communicating with many people to design a service blueprint. The feedback from the stakeholders, clients, users, and team members give a strong support in creating an ideal service experience. Gathering data based on assumptions might lead to multiple corrections along the way that is not cost-effective and has high chances of losing its current users, and difficult to attract new customers.

4. Digital knowledge (solving problems and making decisions that are influenced by digital knowledge): 
Knowing how to solve problems with sufficient digital knowledge could help service designers to process and build a service design quicker and better digital user experience. Technology skills and knowledge are part of the main skills to succeed in the industry. You have an understanding of the importance of prototyping, accessibility, coding, internet technology, and more.

5. Design the Service Design Blueprint (presenting ideas to clients or stakeholders):
Service designers must have the ability to design the service design blueprint and presenting (to clients or stakeholders) before proceeding to the production phase. 

The transferable skills for service design

Transferable skills that you can take from your current role into service design are visual design, creative thinking, and project management.

How you can do it:

Leverage your past skills, expertise, and lived / living experience. Reflect on your past role/job to see how you might be able to bring those skills and experiences to align with service design. Maybe it’s research, connecting dots, making sense of lots of different pieces of information, visual storytelling, etc.- Gavin.

How to Get into Service Design?

  • Take short short courses (online or offline).
    Some courses can be quite pricey, so a word of advice there. See what fits your wallet and skills gap.

    Some of the top online courses of Service Design are:
  3. Interaction Design Foundation

  • Get free resources on service design available online:
    This can be in the form of podcasts or blogs. And service design studios share examples of their work so that you can see how service design is applied across various sectors.

    Some resources online are:
  1. Service Design Magazine 
  2. Practical Service Design
  3. Service Design Blog
  4. Service Design Podcast
  5. A list of the best Service Design Podcast 2021

  • Books are also a great resource:  

The two books recommended are: This is Service Design Thinking by Marc Stickdorn and Designing the Invisible by Lara Penin. 

Get in touch with Gavin via LinkedIn or Wordpress.


Gavin Mandrelle (ADPList Mentor)
Service designer at RMIT University
ADPList Profile:

Editor and Writer:
Farah Radzi
Content Marketer and Writer at ADPList