The International Service Design Institute asked service designers to reveal the knowledge and skills required to be a successful service designer and we asked employers how they evaluate service design candidates. We asked experienced service designers to name those skills that have proved most valuable.

Basic Understanding –

  • That the premise of service design is to create reliable, satisfactory experiences for users, based on what is to be achieved for the desired outcome.
  • Recognition that services are made up of components, distinct parts that must be organized to create satisfactory user experiences.
  • Familiarity with the concept of user-centricity, the approach for practicing service design. And, to base the use of models and tools on users’ needs.
  • Know which models and tools to use at the stages of design.

Character –

Leadership qualities: Capable of leading diverse teams to accomplish a service design goal. This includes the ability to communicate objectives, moderate discussions, solicit divergent viewpoints, and accommodate group needs. Additionally, must be able to communicate ideas clearly, and serve as a role model to less senior service designers. Empathy is key.

Strategic Vision-oriented: An ability to see problems in all their dimensions is necessary to realize a holistic perspective on an organization’s challenge.  This includes foresight into how designs and changes impact users and stakeholders.

Critical thinker: Able to solve business problems and envision possibilities. Must be comfortable challenging assumptions.

Skills, Knowledge, and Additional Abilities —

  • Clear communicator, able to visualize possible solutions to complex issues and challenges.
  • Curiosity toward technology, open to trialing new technology, open to others’ ideas, and willing to experiment in support of user experiences.
  • Intuit physical parameters are important for developing service frameworks, identifying resources, and planning how to develop an experience flow based on user actions and reactions.
  • Understanding of business models.
  • An understanding of research, including research instruments, ways to gather responses, ability to understand data analysis, and the skills for visualizing analytic results.

Preferred —

  • An interest in a wide range of topics and a thirst to discover more (curiosity). (Service designers who are educated in arts and science are typically better at seizing up a larger picture along are connecting the dots.)
  • Knowledge and ability to develop processes.
  • Comfortable with the basics of customer experience.

Experience –

  • Subject matter expertise, which evolves from working across disciplines and domains (sectors), or deep knowledge of one or more domains.
  • Experience(s) delivering large or complex projects.
  • Experience working within regulations and policies


These skills and attributes represent the opinions of several hundred service designers who have contributed to our surveys.  Therefore, this job description does not reflect a real position nor does it represent part of a hiring process.  However, these skills and attributes are real and valuable to practicing service design. 

Still, they don’t cover hands-on service design practice nor do they extend to knowing the techniques and understanding how to implement them.

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