Design Nomad: Journeying from UX Design to Service Design

September 8, 2023

Since it’s been a year as a practicing service designer, I want to reflect on my transition from an academic background in user experience (UX) to service design. 

My journey to service design began early in life, long before I even heard of design. Growing up, I lived in countries all over the globe, as diverse as Panama, Sudan, and Korea. My cultural experiences living in various countries led me to anthropology and sociology. Pairing this interest with my creative talents, I studied UX design degree at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). But almost immediately, I felt the pull of service design.

Perhaps you have felt this same pull. So, if any of these three points resonate with you, you should consider transitioning to service design.

Do you keep questioning what happens beyond the single-user experience?

My internship was a UX design position in the medical field. This experience was a catalyst to consider service design seriously. I started the internship without many expectations. But immediately, I was hit by the sheer complexity of interactions among multiple actors involved in the healthcare ecosystem. For example, during a patient’s journey, they interact with physicians and pharmacists, nurses, CDIs, insurance companies, cleaning services, and many others.  Together, they make up a patient’s entire experience – a fact all too easily missed if we focus only on the digital experience.

Although I found much excitement in improving the UX for the users, I couldn’t help but wonder if the true problem existed beyond improving the UX of the product I was working on. So if you’ve ever felt a similar sense of wonder, it wouldn’t hurt to check out service design for some answers. Either you find your passion, or it can help broaden your thinking and approach design from a richer context.

Are you wondering if there are some other methods and tools that could take your process further?

My aha moment was participating in a six-month-long service design challenge. We were challenged to “design backward” to move forward, prompting our group to explore repurposing construction waste. Working with service designers freed me from the usual UX design process.  It encouraged me to seek new strategies and methodologies, such as Stakeholder mapping and creating a journey map for construction waste for our project. Being a part of a long design process also allowed me to envision myself working as a service designer. Also, if you’re not in school, join events like service jams to dive into service design, as you won’t know until you try.

Are you curious about what life as a service designer looks like? 

It has been nearly a year since I joined Harmonic Design, and the best part of being here is working alongside passionate and talented service designers. As part of two projects so far, I learned a lot about new design tools, methods, and ways other service designers navigate complex design problems. It has sharpened my curiosity and exposed me to many different perspectives on design solutions. 

I was fortunate to find Harmonic design early in my transition, but if you are still exploring service design, look for local service design communities, clubs, and service design jams. Such groups are wonderful opportunities to get a start. At the end of the day, all the little experiences will help you find your place.

Related blog:

Three Key Qualities to Identify a Stellar UX Practitioner Ready for Service Design

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