Service Design for newbies - a gift from the Twitterverse

Brigette Metzler
7 min readDec 29, 2020


Picture of mosaic tiles in diamond patterns by Max Williams for Unsplash
Picture of mosaic tiles in diamond patterns by Max Williams for Unsplash

As a kind of chatty person on social media, and as the co-chair of a few online communities, notably, the ResearchOps Community, I get a lot of emails and messages from people who would like to pick my brain about user research, data, libraries or ResearchOps. It happens so much, I just run office hours now, a couple of times a week, with the promise only of lending an ear. I like it, and the people I talk to seem to like it too.

The other day though, one of my Linked Data friends (amazing man), connected me to a person entering the field of service design and wanting to know where to start. I said, ooh boy, not my field of expertise, but I do know a few people, let’s chat and I can share some resources and names of people to follow and learn from.

But first, I did what I do best, and asked for some help.

To say I was inundated is, um to put it mildly! Thank you, gorgeous Service Design community, if you ever want a defector to the cause, let me know, ok?

In order to make heads or tails of all the information, I figured I’d try and sort it for you (it may be that knowledge and information management may never leave me, heh).

Just before I start with the amazing list though, I will report back on the chat we had, and the advice I gave. First we talked about the Design Council’s double diamond. Then we talked about how research fits into that. I should have mentioned the triple diamond (here I reference an article by Adam Gray). I referenced pace layers (but of course I did, link is my own). By describing service design and user research as a cross hatching — service design moving from left to right, and the layers of research methods running as verticals throughout the process. The process of the triple or even double diamond tends to see generative research (bottom layers of the pace layers framework) and descriptive research (second from top layer of the pace layers framework) in the divergent phase of the first diamond, with the insights helping to converge. Then causal research is helping in the middle phase (the middle diamond of the triple diamond, or the dot in the centre of the double diamond) where A/B testing is common for example. Finally, during the build/test phase, evaluative research is the research of choice. I am not a service designer, so all this is heavily caveated to say this is my observation only!

For my service design newbie, I suggested the best place to start, was to evaluate her existing skills and interests and start where they might fit in the double diamond. I suggested as a software designer, she comes with a bunch of helpful strengths that would be familiar with the right-hand-side of the diamonds. I said, it is a big field! Talk to people, read some stuff, listen to some podcasts, watch some videos. Notice what keeps her awake at night, the first thoughts that come to mind in the morning, the stuff that sets her heart racing or where flow is easy to find. It’s that place in one’s heart that one sees the doorways to new futures.

The additional trouble of lockdown for a person with English as a second language, living in a new country (Scotland — hello SAtSD people!), looking for a new career, is getting to talk to the right people, knowing where the spaces are, how to insert a foot in the door when the doors are virtual and almost unknowable. If you are in service design in the Scottish gov and can lend a hand showing where doors might open, please do get in touch, I’ll be happy to mediate across the seas, to form bridges where I can.

Ok, the list! I’ve not added anything that wasn’t on the Twitter thread — I thought about it — I can already see that there are some notable people not on the list, but I would just have been here forever! Please feel free to keep adding!

Thank you again, wonderful people, you rock!


Shahzma recommended the free IDEO course, Introduction to Human-Centred Design. She also helpfully suggested to find the specific need or interest in service design so that it can be applied straight away. Good thinking!

Service Blueprinting — put together by the folks behind Practical Service Design


See What I mean, by Kevin Cheng (suggested by Ryan Wold)

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: An Introduction to Service Design by Margus J. Klaar (suggested by Simon Wilson)

Simon also suggested Lou Rosenfeld’s book — and I assume he meant Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, which has changed many a people’s lives (including mine!) in the years since it was first released.

Service Design: from Insight to Implementation by Andy Polaine was suggested by both Mike Ryan and Libby Heasman.

Good Services (a personal fav), by Lou Downe (suggested by Ashley Evans and Helen)

Radical Help (currently blowing my tiny mind and changing how I think), by Hilary Cottam (suggested by me!)

Design Justice by Sasha Costanza-Chock was debated as one to add to a beginner’s list. Alba Villamil and Shahzma both wondered where ethics is in the conversation within the service design community, and you know, I’ll go with the adage, start as you mean to go on and include it here. I also mentioned Amartya Sen’s Capability Framework (his work is so wide ranging, I’ve just listed the wikipedia here — Capability and Well-Being is a good start), though I suspect it is a bit advanced for this list. Definitely a good one to look at, especially if you are in gov and especially if you want to understand Hilary Cottam’s work better.

An Introduction to Service Design: Designing the invisible, by Dr Lara Penin (suggested by Cameron Tonkinwise)

Service Innovation Handbook, by Lucy Kimbell (suggested by Cameron Tonkinwise)

Orchestrating Experiences, by Chris Risdon and Patrick Quattlebaum (suggested by Jess McMullin)

This is Service Design Thinking, collaborative effort, lots of authors! (visit the website but some are: Marc Stickdorn, Jakob Schneider, Adam Lawrence, Marcus Hormess) (suggested by Adam Zeiner)



  • Power of Ten by Andy Polaine is a podcast welcoming guests from a “broad range of disciplines about the intersection of design, technology, psychology, organisations, culture and society.”
  • This is HCD

Ohhhh this is ummm a whole world…


In no particular order, here are people who were suggested to follow or who contributed. I figure if they contributed, they probably have read a thing or two or might have other interesting things to say! Given this was a twitter thread, throughout, I’d used the twitter handle. Most people have their websites linked on their bios if they run one.


Phew that is a big list! If you want to add to it, please just grab that tweet at the top and keep going — I’ll try to add more as they’re added there. If you want to talk to me about anything else* hit me up on twitter or you can also find me in the ResearchOps Slack community, and about a gazillion others (including some SD ones!).

You can find stuff I write here on Medium and in various places on the web. No, I’m a terrible PhD student, and haven’t yet published anything from my actual work. I’m sure it will happen one day!

*(I love talking about ResearchOps or UX or CX or User Research or Design Research. I also have a deep love for ontology, vocabularies, metadata and librarians, always happy to talk about that. I am a total nerd for social policy, feminism, equality in general).



Brigette Metzler

researcher, counter of things, PhD student, public servant…into ResearchOps, HCD, information architecture, ontology, data. Intensely optimistic.