Inaugural Service Design Conference 3 May 2011

The first Service Design Conference was held earlier this month in Sydney, organised by Steve Baty and Donna Spencer – the team behind UX Australia. It was one stream with 7 presentations in scenic Darling Harbour. It was nice to not have to scurry between rooms for multiple tracks and good to know I wasn’t missing out on anything. The attendees were a UX crowd, and all seemed to be practitioners within the service design space. There was only a brief mention about the differences between service design and experience design. Everyone there wasn’t about to be held up on semantics. All the speakers dove straight in to describe how they work and deliver as service design practitioners.

Everyone has their own benchmarks for what makes a good conference presentation. Mine is set on whether or not I can take anything actionable out of a presentation, or whether a presentation makes me reflect back on projects I have carried out in a new way. And I can honestly say that I got something out of all of the sessions. Across the board the speakers were generous and engaging. Everyone shared their approaches, frameworks and samples of their deliverables.

My highlights were:

It was also a lovely curatorial note to end the day with a session about architecture – Creating better places to be as a way to reflect back on our own practice of endeavouring to design experiences.

Key takeaways and themes

  • As ever with UCD, scenarios are key to representing current and future states.
  • Don’t over cook deliverables. Low-fi simple sketches are more than appropriate to communicate ideas and generate discussion.
  • As Google says: release early, release often. Test your designs by getting them used in context and iterate.
  • Services are delivered by customer facing staff. Service design is as much Staff CD as UCD.
  • Service design will achieve nought for the user without balancing its aims with the business objectives and the capability of the organisation to deliver, e.g. understand the technical ramifications of your vision.
  • Don’t create blue-sky vision without writing a road map for how you and the organisation can design yourselves there.

Audio and slides of all presentations will be published by the speakers and conference organisers in coming weeks. Thanks again to the organisers and sponsors for putting together such a great event.

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