Service Design – Prototyping

Service Design - PrototypingReviewing & Distilling

We need to consider the long list of ideas generated so far and establish which merit further development and exploration. In addition to this, we need to try and assemble them into a beta user journey to see how they ft together.

Why prioritise the ideas? If we throw all of the ideas that we’ve generated at our prototype new service, it will fall over. It also gives us permission to be really creative in previous stages (this is our filter). So we need to fnd a way of prioritising the ideas that stand the best chance of enhancing the service.  There are several methods for this and their use will vary from project to project:


We can cluster ideas by theme, journey stage or other value. Clustering helps us get to the richer thought that might lie across several smaller ideas. It also helps us get better visibility of what we’ve generated (a short list of more potent ideas is easier to view than a long one). We don’t want to edit down too much – just need to get rid of real non-starters.


There are various measures that we might use to select from our long list of ideas, including:

  • Match to overall concept ethos
  • Meeting key user needs
  • Ease of delivery
  • Adherence to policy
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Resonance with users/customers

Journey summary

A useful way to think of how the updated journey comes together is a journey summary sheet. It describes a feature touchpoint for each of the main phases (5-6) of the users journey, summarising what now happens in that phase.

‘Brief’ writing

There will be several ideas that we’d like to take forward to prototype and test. In order to do this we must capture the essence of each idea writing down some kind of brief for when we come back to it. The brief will summarise the idea itself, who it is targeted at, what the key benefits of it are and what its main features comprise of. It might also include key enabling stakeholders.  It should be written in plain English such that a non-team member could understand it.


Goal: Incremental reassurance of success or early proof of prospective failure.

We want to quickly mock up and test some of our key insights and ideas with users to see if they resolve some of the issues we discovered through research. We are doing this to learn what fails as well as what seems to work and why. We learn and iterate from what we discover here.


  • De-stresses need to get it right first time
  • Pictures speak a thousand words – we “get” it
  • Makes real
  • Permits discourse
  • Difficult to get stuff right first time
  • A kind of live sketching tool
  • Complementary extension to design process and approach
  • Fail early, fail often
  • Allow us to explore, develop and test

Top Tips

  1. Make sure you do this bit!! This is the area you will most likely be sceptical about, but the one you will get most value from
  2. Explain thoroughly to your audience that they are prototype ides – don’t get into the detail about how it might be delivered
  3. People will give different views in different settings (e.g. 1:1, group) and may change their minds after they have had time to contemplate

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