What is a Service?


Hi everyone,
I am interested in your thoughts on exploring how we might be inclusive with the concept of designing a service. I think many students will naturally gravitate towards designing a product or an environment as that is the tradition of our older subjects. So what, exactly, is a service?
The glossary (pp74) says:

a designed solution; a less tangible outcome (compared to products) of processes to meet a need or want; services may involve development or maintenance of a system, e.g. cloud computing (software as a service), communication, transportation and water management; services can be communicated by charts, diagrams, models, posters and procedures

Does anyone have any advice on what types of services they might see students designing? How would your task be inclusive of designing a service?
This is an unfamiliar area for me and appreciate any advice.
Kind regards,



I am look at a service as an app or web page. So I will be getting some help from the digital solution teacher on how to map out the content of these correctly using correct charts and diagrams, as well as getting the students to produce the graphics. Then I will get my student to use as Marvel Pop to make a low-fi prototype base on the charts and graphics.

Hope this helps.



Good thread, Ben.

Similar to Catriona, I tend to think as ‘service’ as a catch-all term to cover the design of apps, graphics, web sites, and so on.

On reflection it occurs to me that there is a trend to recast the perception of design as not creating a ‘product’ but rather an ‘experience’. This is supposed to avoid considering design solutions in isolation and instead as part of the user experience which will include other things, context and people. It’s not a big stretch to consider viewing the whole thing as a service of sorts that encompasses the design physical objects, environments and interfaces, systems, and services that together meet the needs of users.

Perhaps this would translate well to the Design studio classroom in the following way:

  1. choose a theme or location
  2. identify users/inhabitants and their needs
  3. identify opportunities for meeting or enhancing needs through the design of objects, environments and services.
  4. Students choose the scale and type of design that interests them to explore design solutions.

Example Theme

An theme we used during the Design Teachers Studio in February was the ‘school of tomorrow’.


Your school has burnt down in a major bushfire (example: Dunalley Primary School). A wealthy sponsor steps in and offers to fund a new school on the condition that it pushes the boundaries of education for the 21st Century. Money is no object, anything goes… except the status quo!

Consider education. What is it? How does it work? How could it work? What are the conventional and what are the radical approaches?

What activities and functions take place in a school? Who are the ‘users’ of a school (students, teachers, admin staff, maintenance staff, parents, others)? What are their needs (and how does these conflict or overlap)?

Students could then choose all manner of scales on which to design the school of tomorrow:

  • the school site, relationship between functions/buildings, exterior spaces (landscape architecture)
  • the design of a specific building or classroom (architecture, interior design)
  • garments for students and staff (school uniform?)
  • school logo, signage, website, school app (graphic design, interaction design)
  • school furniture, learning equipment, bags, etc. (industrial design)

Note that a project like this might run well in groups where each group explores a unique approach but groups pool their research and present ideas to the whole class as the project goes on (not just at the end).

Have I gone off-topic? I guess the overall ‘school of the future’ could be considered a ‘service’ made up of many related designs operating as a system. Does this make sense for the classroom?