An excerpt from The Journeyman, the second service design course in the three-part series on learning service design

Companies face pressure to develop new sources of revenue. Often these sources are from services. Successful services are a reliable, long-term, solution for company growth.  Those companies that don’t grow will soon discover a period of stagnation and eventual decline.

A successful service relies on meeting user needs. A service designer can assess those needs and help develop new and worthwhile ideas for services that offer companies potential revenue and improved customer engagement.

One of the techniques most used by service designers is a Service Blueprint.  A Service Blueprint resembles an architectural drawing, one that diagrams how a service evolves.  This diagram is bisected into a frontstage, which diagrams how users proceed through the service, and a backstage, showing how a provider’s internal functions–such as finance, human resources, technology, and the like–serve to support the user’s experience. The backstage functions are embedded in a company and are often shared across the company and also used with the company’s services.  When user experiences follow the Blueprint’s scripted paths, services operate as intended.

A Service Blueprint can help designers in other ways, too.

  1. Redesigning or Improving Company Operations: Since service design is a user-centric field, for which the design is based on user interaction, a blueprint can be used to reveal a company’s weaknesses for improvement–based on customers.
  2. Visually Represent the Service: Visual sharing helps teams communicate and collaborate for a single purpose of designing a service and user experience.
  3. Uncover Points of Failure: Blueprints are often the first tool service designers turn to in pursuit of points of failure. The tool can help identify where a breakdown occurred.  These can be IT infrastructure, process, or people. Once the breakdown is identified and located in the service path, designers are able to reroute users while fixing the failure.
  4. Service Prototyping: Blueprints are used with prototyping techniques so that designers can test any aspect of the service. The activity of prototyping can be complex, but a Blueprint can help take some of the complexity out of the prototyping by showing aspects of the service that might be tested, and afterward, how it can be integrated for a unique service experience,

These four incentives for using a Blueprint are not exclusive. Service designers often find other benefits of a Service Prototype through their work designing services.

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