Scotland’s first Service Design Network meet up

Last week I attended the first Service Design Network meet up to take place in Scotland. Organised by some of the team at Nile, around 80 like minded people came together to hear talks from three great speakers.

What’s service design?

Possibly you’re wondering what service design is, and whether it’s for you. I like to think of service design as user experience amped up. Planning and delivering great services needs a solid understanding of target users and their needs, absolutely, but there’s more. Service design encompasses the experiences within the organisation that need to evolve to make a great user experience possible. The techniques and philosophies of service designers are largely the same as UX professionals, it’s just the scope is broader and deeper.

What is Service Design? A video primer from the Design Council

What we mean by service design – from the Government Digital Service blog

So while I’ve been promoting UX and user-centred practices at the University for years, as a service manager for the corporate content management system concerned about the package we provide to staff to enable them to build the best website experiences what I was really doing a lot of the time was closer to service design.

The more time I spend around service designers (and the Service Design in Government conference in March was a prime example), the more I believe that what the University really needs is more expertise in this area.

The meet up

The meet up itself was a relaxed affair, with people coming from across the city and beyond to support his inaugural Scottish meet up. There were people from a range of public and private sectors, as well as people working agency side.

Tweet by Neil Collman presenting the event

Co-organiser Nicola Hancock of Nile Service Design consultants introduces the evening


The talks were diverse and each excellent in their own way.

First up, Neil Collman of service design agency Nile talked about predicting future trends and how user research and design could support meaningful innovation and making better predictions.

This was a variation on a webinar I’d watched Neil present a few months back, and which I promoted at a recent user-focused lunchtime meet up here at the University.

A version of the presentation is available online.

Watch Neil Collman present ‘Beyond the next big thing’ on YouTube

Next up was Anna Henderson and Steven Adam, both service designers with the Scottish Government, talking about their roles there and giving some great examples of the challenges they face and the value they’re adding to the citizen experience.

Image of presenters within a tweet

Sam Tilson tweets an introduction to the talk by Anna Henderson and Steven Adam of the Scottish Government


Finally, we were treated to the thoughts of Arno Verhoeven, Programme Director for our Masters in Design for Change. This was a genuinely funny and thought-provoking talk. A perfect way to close the show. If only I’d had lecturers like Arno when I was at university…

Image of Arno Verhoeven presenting, accompanied by tweet commentary

Sam Dunne reflects on Arno Verhoeven’s talk on Twitter

Future sessions

If you like the sound of all this and fancy coming along to a future session, the next date is in Glasgow on 24 July. The following date is to be confirmed, but back in Edinburgh.

I recommend you follow @SDN_UK on Twitter to keep informed of what’s happening.

If you’re a member of staff in the University and curious as to whether this is something for you, feel free to get in touch with me to find out more.

Hope to see you at a future session!

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