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Web Design vs Service Design

Warning signs that indicate that your next web project could be a wasted investment


Dear reader!

Web projects are expensive and time-consuming and since they require huge investments, then they usually create huge expectations. Unfortunately, in our line of work, we have seen that web projects can fail badly due to reasons that are not even connected to the IT solution that is being created. Instead, those reasons may often lie in the service or within the company’s internal processes. This means that sometimes, it may be reasonable to take a step back and to first focus on analysing and improving the service. Service design provides the perfect tools for this.

Service design enables analysing the service thoroughly and through that, transforming it into something more valuable, user-centred, and efficient. Services design can be conducted within any company quite easily with “simple home tools”, meaning that you do not always need to plan a big budget for it or hire a design agency.

But how do we know when to bet on service design instead of investing in a new IT solution?

In this digital guide, we have written down the most common warning signs that indicate that a planned web project might not bring about the desired results.

This guide is mainly aimed towards specialists who are responsible for ordering web updated for the company – e.g. business managers, development managers, service managers, and product owners.

We hope you enjoy reading it!
Trinidad Wiseman’s team

What is service design?

Service design is a process for developing new services or improving current services, which is focused on mapping out and improving a company’s internal processes. Its goal is to make the contact point between the user and the service provider:

  • As useful, user-friendly, and desirable as possible for the client
  • As efficient and different from that of competitors as possible for the service provider

In other words, service design looks at how an organisation provides their service to create more value for both the client as well as the service provider.

The main principle of service design:

  • Based on research
  • Iterative
  • Person-centred
  • Inclusionary

The benefits or service design for companies

  • Increases customer satisfaction and improves customer service
  • Increases employee satisfaction
  • Decreases inefficiency and enables process optimisation
  • Increases customer loyalty
  • Helps to send clear messages to the clients
  • Helps to decrease labour costs
  • Helps to find new business models and to innovate

Web design vs service design

How positive or negative a client’s experience with one service ends up being depends on what their experience with that service has been at various touchpoints. Touchpoints are moments when the client comes into contact with the service in one way or another. For example, in the case of food delivery services those touchpoints would be deciding on what food to order, ordering it, being notified, receiving the food from the courier, but also things like calling customer service, receiving an e-mail about a campaign or seeing the courier on the street with the logos of various companies on their outfit.

The biggest difference between web design and service design is that web design deals with resolving the issues connected to one specific touchpoint, while service design is focused on all of the touchpoints as a whole and on designing the movements between them.

What is a service plan?

Service plans or the service blueprint methodology is used in service design for mapping out organisational processes and creating new solutions.

A service plan is a diagram that visualises organisational processes to help optimise the user experience provided by the company.

Web-based tools for creating a service plan:

  • Uxpressia logo
  • canvanizer logo
  • Miro logo
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A practical guide

Warning signs that indicate that your next web project could be a wasted investment:


If there are other companies on the market who offer the same type of service, then you may be tempted to quickly update your company’s website for competition purposes.

However, most of the time, that is not enough. Hundreds of work hours and thousands of euros later, the result ends up being a nicer website without anything having changed about the service itself. But for the client, that is not a good enough reason to opt for your company over another.

In this case, the more efficient thing to do would be to thoroughly analyse your service and to focus on finding new business opportunities.

In other words, you should implement service design to figure out whether there are any unfulfilled customer needs you could tackle, possible new customer groups, or some other way of adding more value to your service.

Lack of added

If, prior to the web project, you are unable to answer the question of how the planned project is supposed to increase the value of the service or if it will even affect the service at all, then the project is probably not worth doing in its current form.

In this situation, the web project’s financial side tends to lean on the side of expenses and even the most optimistic of people will have a very difficult time of figuring out what kind of added business value is created by it.

Service design can be used to map out the customer journey and the service offering as a whole. In turn, this enables you to find possible drawbacks in the service offering.

By adding in touchpoints focused on user needs as conveniently as possible to remove those drawbacks, you will create important added value for the service.


Lacking communication and cooperation between the different parts of a company can make the customer experience at the various touchpoints of a service uneven and unclear or frustrate the client.

Oftentimes, signs of insufficient cooperation earlier on become apparent in the planning phase of a new web project.

For example, different departments are not able to agree on a goal, not everyone is as interested in it, or different departments have their “one and only favourite solution” for the problem being solved by the project.

success criteria

Before getting started with your web project, you should definitely think about what you are trying to achieve with the project and how to measure the project’s success afterwards. Otherwise, you may end up not making use of various business opportunities that modern technological solutions offer, and the new website will only end up being an expense.

One sign of the success criteria not being defined clearly enough would be, for example, if the project team is unable to define their perfect client (the correct answer is not all the clients). Another clear warning sign is the inability to state the main goal of a client’s visit to the website.

Service design helps you take a step back and see how the client communicates with the company via different departments. Only then will you be able to critically assess the quality of the customer experience.

This enables the creation of a web project that achieves the desired effect and helps resolve issues with dissatisfied clients at the exact point where the issue appeared.


If the client wishes to avoid the web environment being offered to them or they are constantly finding alternative ways of achieving their goals, then that likely points to a situation that cannot be fixed with a new user interface or design alone.

With service design, we can figure out what the reasons are for the client not wanting to use the service (or part of it) in the intended manner or why they are completely avoiding a specific online channel.

After that, we can take into account whatever results we find and make improvements to the service and the technological solution so that they become more acceptable for the client.


Does your customer support receive a lot of questions about the service? Are clients having trouble with using the service? Does it seem like that client does not understand how the service works and what they are paying money for?

This could indicate that it is time to “dismantle” the whole service, figure out exactly what the client needs are, and come up with a better way of putting the service together.


Another risk factor that may cause a project to fail stems from any big changes taking place within the company – for example, the company enters a new market or new approaches toward the client are implemented.

In situations like this, you should first take a systemic look at the service offering and check whether the existing client touchpoints are suitable for the service.
This kind of an approach helps to avoid “forced decisions” that affect the service offering within the context of the web.