Design Service Design

NESTA & IDEO designing for public services guide

This guide brings together a collection of practical tools and methods for using design in public services.

How it helps you

Created by Nesta and IDEO as part of Design for Europe. Iit offers ways to do things differently by introducing the process of design thinking,. Moreover it provides guidance on on how to introduce this new approach into day-to-day work in the public sector.

It will help you to:

  • Understand the principles of design thinking
  • How they can be used in a government context
  • Explore the different stages of the design process,
  • Why it is important to place citizens and users at the centre of your work
  • Start using new practical tools and methods to create change in how you tackle problems, both old and new
  • Consider the challenges you might come across when trying to implement this new approach
  • How you might overcome these challenges
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A tough one

Having worked in the field of utilities, health insurance and education, i believe that the design of public services is a tough one.

First and for me most important: legislation, fiscal constrains and bad political compromises impact (m)any design decision.

From a design perspective,  service designers focus on specific solutions for a limited target group. In public services this is often not the case.

From a public services perspective: legislation (and the public opinion) does not appreciate any discrimination within the general public.

Non-profits and service design

Sam Sparrow, Associate at CAST wrote recently about his experience with non-profits and service design. Here are our five key learnings from working with nonprofits intensively on service design:

  1. Charities are used to starting with the solution, not the problem
  2. Despite their social focus, it can be hard for charities to be truly user centred.
  3. Charities need time to lay the groundwork for agile ways of working
  4. Isolated service design doesn’t work, and integration into the charity is key
  5. It’s never just about the technology — and technology novices have much to offer the process

Making things better and better

But tough does not imply impossible. it’s up to designers to challenges existing practices and making things better and better. As Herbert Simon stated: “to design is to devise courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”

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