Laura Warwick
Service Designer


Service Design is the process of using design tools and techniques to consider and craft the experience someone receives when using a service. Design tools help you to gain new insights from your beneficiaries, and translate these into tangible, valuable, and different service offers.


Service Design may be a new concept for many charities, but it has been used increasingly over the last decade to create and deliver desirable, efficient and effective services that create better outcomes for the customer and for the organisation.


Local government and public sector are demanding drastically different services and relationships, and this requires a complete transformation in the way that many charities offer services. There are many reasons why Service Design is a suitable approach to enable and support this radical change, including:


It can help charities create a distinctive offer – Service Design focuses on the behavior, needs and motivations of users to craft experiences that are both effective and desirable, which can create distinctiveness in a crowded marketplace.


It also helps stakeholders to challenge accepted service delivery mechanisms and imagine new possibilities. As a result of challenging these expectations, service designers can help organisations to make radical changes to their services, which can also help to distinguish their offer from others.


It can help grow participation – Service Design’s participatory approach builds on the existing close relationship between voluntary organisations and service users by helping to harness the expertise and creativity of the community. Creative activities and tools are used to facilitate and structure the conversations between partners to allow everyone to contribute and feel valued.


Involving existing and potential stakeholders in the development of services not only opens up new possibilities, but can also empower them to produce improved service experiences that they want to foster and protect.


It can help voluntary organisations thrive in challenging times – as well as helping to use customer insights to create sustainable services, service design also provides a process for continually testing elements of a service to ensure that they work as desired, and that precious resources are not wasted on concepts that are flawed.


The participatory approach of Service Design also helps to build capabilities within an organisation. As stakeholders are involved directly in the development and use of service design tools, they learn the principles behind the approach through their active contribution. By building these skills from within, it helps to equip an organisation with a means of continually responding, adapting and innovating in the future.



What all Service Designers have realised over the last few years is that service design is a difficult thing to explain because it can do multiple things simultaneously (like challenging the status quo, and suggesting an alternative). Often it’s easier to explain the value of Service Design face-to-face, so please do get in touch. Alternatively, please click here to read what the charities I’ve worked with think about Service Design, or follow the links below to see what others have to say about it.



Guardian Service Design supplement 

This is Service Design Thinking website

Design Council Restarting Britain: Design and Public Services report

Nesta Social Innovation report









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