25 Feb 2023 Frank Spillers


Ready to blur product & service lines?

Ready to blur product & service lines?

In software teams, the word “Product” is used 50x more than the word “Service”. Okay, I made that up. The point I want to make is if all we talk about is the “Product”, we narrow ourselves into a definition of UX that focuses on features and the container of that product. We don’t see beyond the box, or outside narrow product lines, and in today’s complex environment, we need to see the full picture.

Why? Because in today’s UX challenges blur the lines between products, services, and hardware…

“The lines between hardware, software, and services are blurred or are disappearing” -Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

If we only focus on a product, outside of its broader service ecosystem, we might miss something important. This is particularly problematic for product designers and product managers who may not have access to the broader UX family of tools, namely Service Design.

For example, seeing the Apple Watch as a product, or a place for an app misses the blurred lines. Instead, the Apple Watch is a product-service ecosystem offering a platform of apps, a physical product, and subscriptions to value-add services like classes via Peleton or Apple Fitness+. Furthermore, it’s not even a “device”, it’s a biofeedback mechanism capable of tracking various physiological events like breath, heartbeat, and more.

Service Design mindsets to the rescue

Instead, we want to think about the experience with all its touchpoints (that’s a Service Design concept and technique that explores exchanges of value and information between your business and customer). Service Design mindsets can expand the narrow view UX Designers or Product Designers regularly take when designing. By nature, Service Design requires a systems view and an agnostic approach to solving customer problems.

What Service Designers do instead

Instead of throwing a UI at it, the idea is to back away, zoom out and understand all the moving parts to pinpoint the highest amount of change. That might include a UI, but it might include something else to go with it. In a Product view, the point is to narrow (MVP) and follow the Roadmap priorities. Products chase features. UX Designers chase users and try to balance tasks with features. Service Designers gather a systemic understanding, and then apply pressure where needed, not just to stop bleeding but also to heal the patient. That might involve tweaking procedures, rules or algorithms, for example.

This upcoming Miniclass will provide a business case and practical set of talking points to open up your heads-down UX or Product Designers (and stakeholders) who haven’t noticed Service Design methods and mindsets.  Frank Spillers will discuss how to provide product teams with more benefits by adopting Service Design mindsets.

Topics we will cover in this Miniclass:

  1. Service Design mindsets- what’s there to see?
  2. Product-service systems in action
  3. How Product Management can leverage Service Design methods
  4. Q&A

Miniclass: Infiltrating Product Design with Service Design mindsets [Events]


About the Author

headshot of frank spillers

Frank Spillers

Founder - UX Inner Circle

Frank Spillers, MS, founded the UX Inner Circle to share his knowledge and skills with his students from the Interaction Design Foundation where he has provided select trainings for the past 8 years. He leads UX and Service Design consulting at Experience Dynamics, an award-winning consultancy. He works with the world’s leading brands to deliver cutting-edge strategy for products, services, and experiences. Starting out in the mid-’90s in social VR, Frank has consulted on 600 UX projects including enterprise web applications, nonprofits, government and more. He’s an Inclusive Design evangelist, and expert in Accessibility, Emotion Design, VR/AR, Cross-cultural Design and UX Management. Frank brings 25 years of experience as a Sr. UX Director and Service Design leader. He has lifted conversion rates by 88% and enhanced revenue by 300% for firms like Nike, Intel, Microsoft, the City of New York, Global Disability Rights Now!, Four Seasons, Capital One, the World Bank, Women Enabled International, and many more.

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