Design is not only for designers - everyone can design! Here we will introduce you the process of design thinking, which will help you to see and do things in a new way. These methods and tools are used by designers all over the world and can be used in any sector, inspiring to create success and innovation.  

To learn these tools and methods is like learning any new skill – through practice. So, implement these in various stages of the project and involve others, your confidence will also grow through practice.  

So, how is the service design process structured? It is divided into 7 stages and several sub-activities under each stage. Here is an overview of each step of the process. 


0. Preparation 

Proper preparation is the basis of everything - it simplifies and makes service development more efficient and allows you to save time. By the end of this stage, the core members of the service team are together, they know the purpose of the project and the major constraints. The team has already agreed on how communication works, where information is stored and who contributes in which role. 


  • Settling into the role of a Service Manager

Service Manager is responsible for creating and implementing the vision of the service/project. The goal of this sub-activity is to give you the courage to develop the right personal qualities and knowledge in yourself.  

  • Project goal setting 

Each project needs specific starting and ending points. Without it, it is highly likely that the project will be accompanied by permanent changes and the expected quality increase in the service will not be reached. The goal is to reach an understanding of why the change is being implemented and how success will be recognized. 

  • Assembling the team 

It is not necessary to involve all team members in making every decision. It is important that the right people in the right place can contribute. The goal is to form a versatile team motivated by the success of the service. 

  • Start! 

Every member of the team must know why he/she is involved in this project and what is his/her role in ensuring the success of the service/project. The goal is for the Service Manager to ensure that the team wants to work together and there is trust among team members. 

  • Resource planning 

For projects and services where the total budget is not clearly defined, all activities should be planned and estimated in phases. This way, if necessary, the result of the completed phase can be used as input for the procurement organized for the new phase and reduce the risk that the project will not be implemented due to underestimation of development needs. The goal is to identify the cycles required for service design/change and to begin to set the baselines for the first stage so that it is realistic, sustainable and meets the needs of the service. 

  • Working principles and methodologies 

People's knowledge and understanding of a "good digital service" tend to be different, and so the quality of services also varies. That is why it is important to follow common principles systematically.  
The goal of this sub-activity is to start the preparation of the project plan and carry out the risk assessment related to the service. 


1.  Understanding and choosing a focus 

As a result of the stage, the initial design task is created. The service team should also have answers to these questions: 

  • What changes are needed compared to the current situation? 

  • How are these changes beneficial from an organizational perspective? 

  • How will these changes benefit end users? 

  • What limitations must be considered for the service and/or project? 

  • What special needs must be considered for the project? 



  • Mapping of existing (AS-IS) processes 

Improving today's processes starts with analysing the existing situation. The sooner the blind spots and expectations related to the project become clear, the smoother the project will run as a whole. The goal is to ensure the availability of high-quality input for the preparation of the design task. 

  • Preparation of the initial task for design 

By now, the project team has acquired all the necessary information to prepare the design task. Even though the whole team could participate in the preparation of the document, a better result is achieved if there is one person responsible for the design task (the "chief editor"), who helps to assemble the outline of the document and later make it uniform. 

  • Feedback in the team 

You have been operating as a team for a while now: a lot of work has been done, several meetings and discussions have been held together, and several documents have been prepared. Now would be a suitable time to review the functioning of the processes and give feedback to each other. 


2. Solving 

After conducting research, it is time to draw conclusions. Take as much time as possible for this stage: stories are born from the accumulated input, which help to spot patterns and see problems related to the service from a completely new angle. In this stage we will talk about methods that help to shape the research work into fresh solutions step by step. 


  • Talking to related parties 

Most digital services involve several different parties in the form of organizations, interest groups, and related solutions. Do not forget them! The goal is to mitigate risks, support the development of a successful service and create innovative solutions in cooperation with existing ones. 

  • Solution ideation workshop 

The more ideas are under consideration, the easier it is to break out of the trap of standard solutions and reach truly ingenious solutions. The goal of this sub-activity is to ensure that no great idea is lost due to its novelty, uniqueness, or lack of a suitable place to share the idea. 

  • Data protection and legal space discussions 

Solving legal restrictions concerning the service is difficult and time-consuming, so it is important to have a very precise understanding of what can be done, what is allowed to do, what must be done and what needs to be changed before starting procurement and/or project design work. This also helps to prevent possible delay in development due to legal uncertainties. It is important to revalidate all constraints and valid requirements also in the later stages of the project!  

  • Describing the desired service 

Now it is time to write down clearly the expectations for a new or changing solution. The goal is to maintain a collective understanding with the entire project team, which helps to ensure targeted and effective development of the service. 


3. Testing the solution 

Numerous discussions have already been held during the assembling of the input for the design work, and the belief that knowing the complete set of problems down to the details is easy to come by. However, real life often turns out to be much more complicated than assumptions, and the true severity of incompletely met user needs may only become apparent over a longer period. This may lead to additional investments in redesign and development. Testing solutions helps to prevent such situations and significantly reduce the volume of later repair needs. 


  • User (TO-BE) journeys and prototype 

Prototyping starts with mapping the user's steps. The prototype does not have to be beautiful, but usable. For a user-centred service, it is not enough that we know what needs to be solved - we also need to validate that the offered solution, both in terms of its content and form, meets the real (not just assumed by us) needs of the users. 

  • User testing 

When testing, make sure that the focus is on the most common scenarios, but also include a few exceptional cases if possible. Think through the scenarios and write them down as tasks for the user. The goal is to validate whether your understanding of the user experience corresponds to the actual experience and understanding of the user. 

  • Documentation 

Well-documented projects have a lower risk of being late and requiring significant changes later. Write more rather than less. The goal is to ensure transparency and uniform and common understandings to avoid errors in the development phase of the project. 

  • Pilot 

Even the best prototype in the world cannot replace the feeling you get when you can touch or click a solution with your own hands. If possible, it is worth considering conducting user tests with a pilot project instead of (or in addition to) a prototype. Additional realism gives a more genuine feedback emotion. 
If possible, develop and test a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The minimum working version means that the development should be carried out with maximum simple means: UI (User Interface) components from the existing design system, some headless CMS to manage the solution (backend), or even simulate local processing of data only in the browser. It would be wise to consult with the IT panel or ask for experiences from the wider community. 


4. The development of IT-solution 

By the end of the stage, the first version of the service has been developed, which the users can comfortably use to solve their problem. The service may not be perfect at the end of this stage, and you can continue to improve it. 


  • Development plan 

Based on the prototype and pilot project, there should already be enough information to write down what needs to be developed and what can be left for later. It is also necessary to prioritize development work together with the team and other related parties. Remember to consider data management topics and include a data manager in the team. The goal of this sub-activity is to write a development plan or do it in cooperation with an IT developer.  

  • Finding the development team 

How to assemble the technical team depends on the institution's rules and on how big the development is. Find out within your institution how it is necessary to act. Also, complete documentation about functional requirements. 

  • Creating a development culture 

Many have heard about agile development, but few have seen it in action. It is a way to organize the work of the team so that everything that needs to be done can be done without excessive meetings or management. The roles and responsibilities are agreed and the vocabulary commonly understood. The goal is to find the most productive and enjoyable way to work with your team. 

  • Design systems 

It is time to start the visual design of the prototype, which is also called UI (User Interface) design. A design system is a set of components and instructions that are used to create user interfaces for web pages and digital services. Design systems help create a more consistent and high-quality user experience, avoid duplicate work and save time. The goal of this sub-activity is to choose a suitable design system according to your service. And let the designers create UI design views from prototypes. 

  • Development 

In the simplest way, the development can be summarized in four steps: 1) collecting input, 2) working version (alfa), 3) version that works properly (beta) 4) version that works quickly. Development testing is also an important part of the process and requires the involvement of technical testers with specialized skills. Make sure that the completed solution corresponds to what was initially desired and that it works correctly. 

  • Web analytics 

You can only fix problems that you are aware of. In the case of digital services, analytics refers to the collection of statistical information about users that does not contain personal data. What is the speed, when did users leave, what search terms are entered the most etc. Adopt a statistics collection tool that respects privacy as much as possible. 


5. Commissioning 

By the end of the stage, the service is in public use and regularly monitored. 


  • Organizing internal trainings 

If there are supporting people related to the service, you must make sure that they have all the necessary information before disclosing the service. Organize an information session, workshop, training or other joint event before going live, where you introduce the new solution and its background, let them try it hands-on and share your expectations to them regarding the new solution.  

  • Technical monitoring 

The earlier you find out about problems, the easier, cheaper and faster it is to solve them. Technical monitoring means that errors that occur are automatically notified. The goal of this sub-activity is to implement an automatic error notification system to prevent user frustration. Make it clear to whom automatic notifications should be sent in case of which problems. 

  • A/B testing of further improvements 

It is completely natural that innovative ideas for improving the service arise during the process or even after the solution is made public. If the generated ideas have been prototyped and passed the initial user test, or if the change would be large or would affect a critically important part of the solution, A/B testing should be considered before redesigning the existing solution. Be prepared for further improvements and new ideas. 

  • Going live (soft launch) 

A new or improved service should be announced calmly, without a big "bang". Get the service up and running and only then start marketing it, when it is certain that everything is working well. 

  • Public notification 

After publicizing the service, care must be taken to ensure that information about the service reaches everyone who needs it. Prepare a press release and additional marketing strategy, if necessary, together with the communications team. 

  • Collecting feedback 

The metrics provide knowledge about the current state of the service, as well as an answer to questions about whether and in which direction to move to provide an even better service. Mapping the current situation helps to ensure the availability of neutral and informative information for making better decisions. The goal is to reduce risks that the desire to improve the service takes the wrong direction without it being perceived by the team. 

  • Further enhancement 

No service is ever completely finished. If there are available resources, it is worth continuing to upgrade on all fronts, but better to divide the changes into stages and solve them systematically. Continue to update the development plan based on feedback. 


6. Sharing experiences 

By the end of the stage, the team has summarized all the lessons learned, which could be valuable to other service creators as well. 


  • Retro in the team 

Be sure to do a retrospective meeting on the whole project with the team. Collect everyone's greatest lessons, learnings, and discoveries, whether human, technical, or otherwise important. It would be ideal to hold such review meetings already during the process so that work processes and methods can be improved. 

  • Writing a case study 

Based on the collected lessons, it would be good to write a summary case study, which could be shared both inside the organization and, if possible, outside it. This helps novice service managers and new project teams learn from others' mistakes, draw inspiration from good discoveries already made and carry out significantly more effective new projects. 

  • Presenting the results 

Tell your colleagues about the experiences, lessons learned and results of your project. There are many ways to introduce a successful service (e.g., various networks), we encourage you to look for them and grab them.