Consider all of the steps involved in helping our users to meet their end goal - Deepstash

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Consider all of the steps involved in helping our users to meet their end goal

What your user expects from your service when they arrive at it is very often not the same as the service you provide.

What’s important isn’t the scope of what you provide, but whether or not the part of the journey you provide helps your user to reach their ultimate goal.


62 reads


Principle 3. A good service sets the expectations a user has of it

A good service must clearly explain what is needed from the user to complete the service and what that user can expect from the service provider in return. This includes things like how long something will take to complete, how much it will cost or if there are restrictions on the types of people...


98 reads

What is a service?

A service, simply put, is simply something that helps someone to do something. The parts of a service might be provided by a number of different organisations but, to a user, a service is one continuous set of actions towards that end goal, regardless of who is providing it.


470 reads

Services are made of small pieces

Services are made of small pieces, but they are more than the sum of their parts. How many steps your service has and how quickly your user goes through them is often as important as what those parts do.

The number and pace of the steps within your service can be designed in a way that best...


37 reads

Dead Ends

Some of these dead ends will be for legitimate reasons – for example, a person who isn’t qualified for a place at a certain university won’t be able to get a place at that university.

But some happen because we failed to account for a particular situation a user might be in – for example, t...


39 reads

Deciding how many steps your service needs

  1. Review where decisions need to be made in your service. If you have too many steps, look to merge these into fewer steps to make the journey simpler for your user. 
  2. Allow users to focus on one task at a time. Users need to be able to focus in order to make a decision...


34 reads

Reason for a Dead End 2. Users have strayed off the beaten track

Sometimes dead ends happen more gradually than simply giving someone no option to continue. Services that are very simple for those on the ‘happy path’ often hide complex and hard to navigate side routes that don’t necessarily ‘stop’ a user from doing something, but slow them down to the extent t...


30 reads

Reason for a Dead End 3. Users can’t do something

Common barriers within your particular service

  1. The ability to remember long numbers
  2. The ability to follow complex instructions
  3. The ability to remember dates, times and appointments
  4. The ability to get somewhere physically
  5. The ability to get somewhere or d...


30 reads

Principle 7. A good service is agnostic to organisational structures

The service must work in a way that does not unnecessarily expose a user to the internal structures of the organization providing the service.


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Nouns are for experts. Verbs are for everyone

Rather than using the words your organisation uses to describe the tasks it has completed, try to find out some of the words your user would use to describe what they’re trying to achieve.

  1. Avoid legal or technical language
  2. Describe a task, not a technology
  3. Don’t use acr...


187 reads

Principle 1. A good service is easy to find

The service must be able to be found by a user with no prior knowledge of the task they set out to do. For example, someone who wants to ‘learn to drive’ must be able to find their way to ‘get a driving licence’ as part of that service unaided.


277 reads

Principle 8. A good service requires as few steps as possible to complete

A good service requires as minimal interaction from a user as possible to complete the outcome that they’re trying to achieve. Sometimes this will mean proactively meeting a user’s needs without them instigating an interaction with your organisation. This may mean occasionally slowing the progres...


40 reads

How to ‘manage’ expectations

You won’t need to explain universal expectations to users when they sign up to your service. You will need to monitor these closely, though, because if any universal expectations aren’t met at any point, they will have the most severe effect on your user.


83 reads

How does the service work?

Sometimes how your service works is almost as important as what it does.

Who is able to use it?

How is it paid for?

Is it a subscription or a one-off purchase?

How quickly can you do the thing you’re offering?

What is it about the way your service works that makes it...


126 reads

Consistency of service

While it’s vital for services to be consistent, they are also complex and varied, and some parts of your service will need to look and behave differently from the rest.

However, consistency is very often mistaken as uniformity, where we aim for a service experience that is exactly the same ...


34 reads

Principle 12. A good service encourages the right behaviours from users and staff

The service should encourage safe, productive behaviours from users and staff that are mutually beneficial. For users, the service should not set a precedent for behaviours that may put the user at harm in other circumstances – for example, providing data without knowing its use. For staff, this ...


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Principle 4. A good service enables a user to complete the outcome they set out to do

A good service helps the user to achieve a goal – be that start a business, learn to drive or move house – in as much of a seamless stream of events as possible. This starts from the moment that a user is considering doing something to the moment they have achieved their goal, including any steps...


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Principle 11. A good service is usable by everyone, equally

The service must be usable by everyone who needs to use it, regardless of their circumstances or abilities. No one should be less able to use the service than anyone else.


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How to design service for someone with no prior knowledge

We need to think about:

  1. How does someone know your service exists when they need it?  Does your user know your service exists?
  2. How do they find it once they know it’s there? Can they find it using their own logical searches for what they’re looking for?


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Principle 6. A good service requires no prior knowledge to use

A service should not work in a way that assumes any prior knowledge from the user.


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Good services are verbs. Bad services are nouns

Where your user starts will depend on how much they’re already aware of what services might be available to meet their needs. Your job is to make sure that they can get from this goal to the service you provide, without having to resort to support.


259 reads

Orchestration of service

The only person who gets to decide what the service is, is the person who has the goal they need to achieve – and that’s your user. It’s your job to orchestrate all of the pieces of this service in as seamless a journey as possible, even if you don’t provide the whole service yourself.


314 reads

Purpose of your service

Purpose of your service =

what your service does +

why it does it +

how it does it +

who it’s for


172 reads

Principle 10. A good service should have no dead ends

A service should direct all users to a clear outcome, regardless of whether the user is eligible or suitable to use the service. No user should be left behind or stranded within a service without knowing how to continue.


34 reads

Minimum viable service

When we build a minimum viable service, we should be aiming for a service through which most of our users will navigate to achieve the goal they set out to do. Starting from the point of view of a minimum viable service rather than ‘product’ forces us to think about which areas need to be in plac...


35 reads

Number of steps in your service

There is a simple rule: the number of steps in your service should be equal to the number of decisions your user has to make, no more and no less.

Don’t just design the steps of your service, design the space between them. 


38 reads

Critical mass of changing service

Crucially, though, changes to expected ways of working in your service require a critical mass to be usable by all users. The bigger the shift from the norm, the more ubiquitous this will need to be for users to become familiar enough to be able to or want to use your changed service.


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Making sure your service works well

  1. Research how your competitors work and look for patterns in what they do.
  2. Understand if there is an easier, more intuitive or more effective way of doing what you’re doing.
  3. If there is, test it to understand how different this is from your users’ existing expectations of how ...


43 reads

Principle 5. A good service works in a way that’s familiar

People base their understanding of the world on previous experiences. If there’s an established custom for your service that benefits a user, your service should conform to that custom. But be mindful that not all customs benefit users – some have been put in for the benefit of the organization r...


45 reads

Tell users what to expect

Whether that effect is big or small, knowing what to expect helps people to plan and take control of their situation. It gives them power – and in some cases the ability to make another choice if what you’re offering isn’t going to work for them.

Most people base their expectations on past ...


91 reads

Perceived cost saving

What it also shows us is that when we try to solve one small part of a user’s problem with one small slice of a service, we often don’t achieve the results we set out to achieve.

Often, the perceived cost saving we think we will achieve in providing a smaller part of a whole service is outw...


59 reads

One moment in a service is more important than any other.

In reality, although there are points in a journey where failure has more of an effect than another – being able to complete a service from start to finish is far more important than having a great experience in one moment, then not be able to complete the rest of the journey.


36 reads

There’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ user

This is why we need to go beyond thinking about accessibility, with all of the inherent biases that come along with creating a baseline of ‘normal’ versus those with ‘access needs’, and start to think in terms of ‘inclusion’ of a full spectrum of needs instead.

With services, it’s also impo...


29 reads

Not to think about inclusion as something your service is or isn’t

Inclusion is a scale that progressively means that your user can not only use your service but also feel safe, welcome, and, – importantly, use it in a way that makes them feel equal to all other users who might need to use that service.

It’s equally important to remember that inclusion doe...


29 reads

Principle 2. A good service clearly explains its purpose

The purpose of the service must be clear to users at the start of using the service. That means a user with no prior knowledge must understand what the service will do for them and how it will work.


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Three types of expectation

Universal expectations. These are the things about your service that are fundamental to what you’re delivering and are universal to almost all users because other similar services work in the same way.

Assumed expectations. When someone do...


94 reads

Thinking about whole services will change what your service is

  1. Understanding what your user is trying to achieve.
  2. Get a good understanding of who else delivers parts of this service and how they relate to your organization.
  3. Look at your organization’s ability to deliver all of this service; if this isn’t feasible, define what a rational ...


57 reads

Understanding what users trying to achieve

Without understanding what our users are trying to achieve, and reinterpreting our services in language that our users can understand, we often place users in a situation where, to find something, they need to know exactly what they’re looking for.

The less you know about the situation you’...


190 reads

Reason for a Dead End 1. Users are not eligible to use your service

This is the one ‘intentional’ dead end your user might face – where someone has a situation that simply doesn’t fit your service. For example, someone lives too far away for you to deliver to them, or doesn’t meet the criteria your service has set out for another reason.

Although your servi...


29 reads

Four fundamental ways that cause siloed, fragmented journeys of our services

Separation of data. Review what data flows through your end-to-end service, who collects it and who has access to it.

Incompatible processes. This can be one part of a journey that takes a certain amount of time, and doesn’t match up with the deadlines of a...


37 reads

Disruptive Service

There is a delicate balance between working in a familiar way, and breaking out of this to set a better way of working.

Try to do something new without properly testing it with users, and you risk creating a ‘new’ way of working that is unusable because users have no prior experience of it....


47 reads

The most common things most services presume users have ready access to

  • A phone number
  • A bank account or credit/debit card
  • An email address
  • Official identification, such as passport, driving licence or state-issued ID card
  • An address, or proof of address
  • Any of the above, in the country that you’re operating in
  • Any...


31 reads

Access to Internet

Many of our stereotypes about who has and who hasn’t got access to the internet are simply wrong. However, much more damaging is our presumption that access to the internet is stable and predictable.


29 reads

Why does the service exist?

Possibly the most crucial of all: make sure you explain to your users why your service exists and what outcome it will achieve, both personally for the user and for society.

Clearly communicate this to users – through things like the service name, description and even the interface of how i...


113 reads

Identifying a number of different characteristics about a person

  1. What they can do. These might be things like the ability to see, read, talk, hear, remember things, get somewhere physically or cope with loud spaces.
  2. Who they are. These things will be things like someone’s ethnic background, gender identity, sex, s...


30 reads

Reason for a Dead End 4. Users don’t have access to something

Just as you have done with the things you presume your user can do, the first task is to identify all of the things you assume your users will have access to at any given point in their journey, and analyse what happens when they don’t have access to these things.

As a rule of thumb, you sh...


29 reads

What does the service do?

Clearly express what the service tangibly does for your user. Be factual, avoid marketing promises. Stick to the functionality.

What outcome will it achieve for the user?


146 reads

Who is the service for?

This will probably be obvious to your user if you express what the service does and how it does it well enough, but you’ll also need to explain that it’s not possible to use the service to users who aren’t eligible or suitable for the service so that they can be moved out of the journey as soon a...


118 reads

Four dimensions of service consistency

  1. Consistency across user journey. Ensure that you think about the minimum viable service, and make a plan to ensure that there are no gaps in your user’s journey that have been neglected.
  2. Consistency in each channel. Make sure you’ve tested each channel from start to ...


33 reads




An effective communicator and business analyst with an inquisitive mind, strong analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills

Services in the internet age are not only defined by the user who’s looking for them but composed of ‘small pieces loosely joined’

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Reason for a Dead End 1. Users are not eligible to use your service

This is the one ‘intentional’ dead end your user might face – where someone has a situation that simply doesn’t fit your service. For example, someone lives too far away for you to deliver to them, or doesn’t meet the criteria your service has set out for another reason.

Although your servi...

To speak the language of designers, stop talking about metrics and start talking about users

To speak the language of designers, stop talking about metrics and start talking about users

More often than not, these aren’t too far off from each other. 

For example, you might be talking about setting a goal of optimizing conversion rate on a registration page by X%. Said another way, what you’re trying to do is to remove the barriers that make it hard for users to sign up ...


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