Key Topics

Key Topics

What do you need to know? Explore your challenge using the questions and prompts below to gather pertinent information. 


State the challenge or opportunity

The starting point with any service design project is to be clear about the challenge or opportunity you want to explore and why it is important. Consider drivers and context for the project as well as user and organisational requirements for success. 

  • How will you describe the challenge or opportunity? 
  • How did this project come about? 
  • What are the strategic drivers for this project? 
  • What does the project need to achieve?  
  • What are the measures of success? 


Build on what is known about your service

Gathering and building on existing information and building will help you to build on what is already known, avoid wasting resources and focus on activity. From the data available, look for key messages as well as what information is missing.  

  • What is already known about the current service offering? 
  • What are the points of stress or delight shared by people who experience the service?  
  • What needs to change? 
  • How do you know this? What sources did information come from?  
  • Where are the gaps in knowledge? What more data needs to be gathered? 


Clarify the constraints

All projects will have to work within constraints. You will need to know the parameters you need to work within and be realistic about what resources you can access. Be clear on specific e.g legal or health and safety requirements.  

  • What constraints do we have to work within (e.g. funding, timeframe, infrastructure, etc)? 
  • What are the givens / what requirements do we have to take account of for the project (e.g. legislation, health and safety, existing technology, etc)? 
  • What resources are available (eg budget, staff, skills, technology, etc)? 
  • What contingencies will impact on the success of the project (eg new server, wifi ability etc)? 
  • What are the risks and how will you mitigate these? 


Know your users

Knowing what users need will help meaningfully shape the service. Consider who directly interacts with your service as well as who represents them. Segment different types of users according to their needs and behavioural characteristics before engaging with them. 

  • Who are the various users of the service – consider end users, family, carers, intermediaries, staff/operational? 
    How many are there? 
  • How many can you connect with for research purposes? 
  • Who are the typical users (eg those who use your service a lot) and the non-typical users (eg non-users/potential users)? How can they be reached? 
  • Who are the difficult to reach / seldom heard users? 
  • Do you have any existing personas for any user groups?


Understand user needs

Use appropriate methods to gather meaningful data across the diversity of your users to better understand their needs and wants; to test your assumptions and uncover insights to shape the service.   

  • What insights do you have from existing user research? 
  • What do you know about their experience of your service already - what are the points of pain and delight?
  • What do users consider works well, what doesn’t work well, what else would they suggest? 
  • Who do you need to know more about?
  • Where are the gaps – what else do you need to know? 
  • What user research methods are relevant and appropriate? 
  • Who has done this type of project before in your sector or in a different industry? 
  • What did they learn? If possible, seek the unedited version ie what didn't work as well as what did? 
Last Updated: 13 December 2023