Conceptualising Prototypes in Service Design

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: To date, service prototyping has been discussed academically as an unproblematic add-on to existing prototyping techniques, or as methods for prototyping social interaction. In fact, most of the knowledge on how services are prototyped comes from organisations and practicing design consultants. Some attempts to define service prototyping have been made but generally without concern about how complete service experiences should or could be represented. Building on existing knowledge about prototyping, a draft of a service prototyping conceptualisation is generated. Based on the draft, the question of how to prototype holistic service experiences is raised and in total, 5 studies have been conducted that contribute knowledge to that overarching question. In addition, each study has its own research question. Study 1 conceptualises prototypes and prototyping in a framework while study 2 and 3 looks at what practicing service designers say they do to prototype services and how they involve different stakeholders in the process. Study 4 examines aspects of design communication and how service experiences are communicated and used during design meetings, and study 5 finally, attempts to generate a process that can be used to evaluate the impact of location oriented service prototypes in e.g. healthcare settings. A number of challenges for service prototyping are identified in the studies, along with the issue of who authors prototypes. The conceptualisation of prototyping is adjusted based on the studies and a framework is constructed that support the conceptualisation. Little evidence for holistic approaches to prototyping services is found in the interviews and service designers involve their clients primarily when prototyping. Service experiences are introduced in communication using a format termed micro-narratives. This format and the purpose of using references to previous experiences are discussed. The thesis is concluded with a suggestion of a process for service prototyping. This process is specific for service design and attempts to support service designers in making holistic service representations when prototyping. Service prototyping requires further research.

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