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Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). If you’re new to this site, Ben has published a playbook for design linking together many of his blog posts from the past 5 years. You can book him to speak at an event, get in touch or follow him on Twitter.

All blog posts in Service Design

Ambiguity and design

Ambiguity is a key part of design. It points us to the uncomfortable gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’ which is where I believe design adds most value.

As I described in my blog post ‘Seniority in design’ the more senior you get the more you will have to learn to handle ambiguity. Continue reading…

Shared working definitions

The purpose of defining something is to create a shared understanding of words, ideas, and processes with a wider group of people.

If you’re going to talk about ideas and ways of working such as ‘digital’, ‘agile’, or ‘service design’, then it’s important to first set out what these things mean. Continue reading…

There is no ‘digital service design’

A lot of digital agencies and technology companies talk about ‘digital service design’.

What I think they mean by this is that they’re designing experiences and digital interactions that happen on a screen.

Service design will never be effective if it’s only seen as ‘digital’ or given the remit to work as ‘digital’. Continue reading…

It’s not a redesign

I don’t like talking about ‘redesign’.

The challenge is to design services all the time. Not to redesign them.

A redesign is a project mentality. Something with a start and end date. The opposite of this is making design part of how an organisation thinks and does things all the time. Continue reading…

Service mapping and different types of maps

Written by Ben Holliday. Based on work developed with Kirsty Sinclair and feedback from the FutureGov design team.

There’s a question of why designers make so many maps. We love maps. But there can be confusion or misunderstandings about why we’re making them or how they can be useful to service teams. Continue reading…

The power of being informed and the problem of being uninformed

Oxenholme Railway Station

Oxenholme Lake District railway station, UK

The biggest factor in a point of crisis is the quality of information available or how informed an individual is.

Information is power. It can enable you to act independently and to get help. It’s also reassuring to feel in control and empowered when dealing with a difficult situation. Continue reading…

Working forwards and working backwards

What we can learn from the military about “mapping backwards” and how this applies to service design

Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hillingford

Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hillingford

In my previous blog post I wrote about the differences between service design and business analysis. Continue reading…

Comparing service design and business analysis

As service design has become a more prominent role and way of working for organisations I’ve seen some confusion between ‘service design’ and ‘business analyst’ (BA) roles.

Service design and business analyst roles have some similar skill sets, but they require a different type of focus and mindset. Continue reading…

Working with design detail

Why prototypes can be more valuable than specifications or documentation

A good rule of thumb for designers:

If you need to get into a finite level of detail, make something.

Artefacts are most useful when they become the design, rather than a plan for doing the design or building a product. Continue reading…

Quality conversations over process

Thinking about design as a series of conversations

Thoughts following this tweet, yesterday.

There is an often overlooked secret to making progress:

The quality of your conversations is as important as your process.

Process is an easier proposition to package, share and even sell to organisations in response to a set of problems that they’re setting out to solve. Continue reading…