What is experience design? Service design? What is the difference? And what does your boyfriend has to do with it?

I will tell you.

You say experience design, they think of user experience (UX). They think about designing a new app, a new website. 

You say service design, they think the same, but that’s not it. 

A lot of people ask what is experience design, what is service design, and how are they different? 


And because I love metaphors, I will use the “boyfriend” metaphor. 😉 

If your boyfriend is handsome, that’s good visual design

The exceptional date you had with your boyfriend–that is experience design

He called you to know when you are free, he asked about what you like, what you dislike, whether you prefer a walk on the beach, an adventure or fancy luxurious dinner. He knows your favorite cuisine. 

He then came to pick you up in his nice car and played your favorite songs. He wore your favorite perfume. 

He treated you like a gentleman and he dropped you back home. 

That is experience design

Experience design is your experience when you interact with a product, a service or an organization from the moment you think about it to the moment you interact with it, and all the way to moving on to doing something else in your day. 

You see, it’s the text message he sent you to tell you he is 5 minutes away from picking you up. It’s the cute little surprise he gifted you with just because. It’s the rose he gave you the moment he saw you. It’s holding the door for you. It’s twirling you while you are dancing. It’s picking you up and dropping you back home safely. It’s all of those pieces put together.

Every single interaction builds up to the experience of that date, and it’s not a freaking app or a website. 

Read that again. Experience design is not designing an app. 

Experience design is thinking of every little detail. Offline, online, and both put together. 

That texting interaction you have with your boyfriend, that could be the app. The app needs to be designed in a way that makes it easy for you and your boyfriend to text smoothly and without even thinking about it. That is user experience, UX. 

So, in a way, user experience is part of experience design. But again, it’s a part of it, not the whole thing. 

You see? 

Good. But, what is service design? 

Let’s go back to the “boyfriend” example, and let you ask you a question… 

Did you ever have the same date experience with different dates/ boyfriends? 

I bet not, I bet the answer is no, for the simple reason that every boyfriend has different qualities and beliefs. Every person you date has a different background and upbringing. Each one has a different perspective. 

They have different jobs and so different levels of income. They can afford different cars, different dinners, different gifts, different perfumes, etc., etc., etc.

You get the idea. 

That background of your boyfriend is not something that you can just brush at the surface. You can’t have a stylist do him a makeover, just like when someone does a website lift. You can’t. 

A stylish can dress him stylishly in one date, one single date. But he has to have good taste. He has to have a wardrobe full of stylish clothes in order for him to look stylish every single time you see him.

Service design is the backbone. It’s the qualities of your boyfriend. It’s training him to have good taste in clothes. 

Service design is how he ensures that every single interaction that he has with you is built on a strong foundation

He can’t pick you up with a fancy car if he didn’t make good money if he didn’t have a good career. 

He can’t treat you like a gentleman if he doesn’t have manners. 

He can’t cook for you an amazing dinner if he doesn’t know how to cook. If he didn’t buy the ingredients and if he doesn’t know the recipe. 

Service design is the enabler for a good experience design.

Otherwise, you end up with a fake experience, a weak encounter, that only would last a few dates, not a lifetime. 

Experience design without service design is a short-term boyfriend. Experience design coupled with strong service design is a husband material boyfriend. 

It’s not about how he looks, what he tells you, but also how he treats you, consistently, every single time.

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