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Service Design Prototyping

Service Design Prototyping

For another perspective on Prototyping and where, when and how to do it, check out this summary post from Engine Service design.


Prototypes provide insight on various service aspects – from desirability and usability, to viability. They can generate deeper understanding than written descriptions or visual depictions, which don’t deal as well with the time-related and intangible aspects of services.

Service prototypes can be rudimentary, comprising of acted-out scenarios with hand-sketched screens or improvised props. Conversely, they can be detailed mock-ups of systems, props, environments, and “trained staff” – to provide more realistic and convincing experiences.


Prototypes of varying fidelity can and should be made at any and all stages of design. During the Understand and Ideate phases, simple scenarios and storyboards can help flesh out ideas and hunches as we move forward.


  • Adam on Sep 14, 2012 Reply

    In my former career as an emergency manager we often developed and conducted emergency preparedness exercises of all types. Some of the most interesting were operations-based drills and full scale exercises, essentially a practice or test run of putting an emergency facility into full operation. This methodology could be adapted to rapidly prototype service operations. Lets look at a full service restaurant for example. Taking a large space, one could set up tables, recruit “diners” and “staff” and run through a night of service. Controllers and evaluators could ensure that things happen as planned and take notes to determine what goes right and what needs improvement. Afterwards a “hotwash” could be held to engage all participants in a discussion of best practices. There you have it, a great way to rapid prototype service operations. For more information on the methodology (albeit one that needs the planning process to be scoped down significantly in order to be valuable as a rapid prototyping tool), see https://hseep.dhs.gov/

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