Service Design in The Guardian

Service Design supplement in the Guardian
Over the weekend the UK Guardian released a preview of their service design supplement online. The paper hits newsstands today but for anyone who doesn’t live on that side of the Atlantic the service design network has a copy of the print edition [PDF 2.1MB] available on their website.

I’m not very familiar with the Guardian or with the UK press in general so I’m not sure how to feel about a ten-page advertisement for service design masquerading as a newspaper. On the one hand, this is absolutely the best promotion for service design anyone could ask for. It’s the perfect balance of high-level overview and easy-to-understand examples, and it gives service designers something to evangelize. In that regard it far surpasses any of Alice Rawsthorn’s writeups in the Tribune.

But on the other hand, it’s embarrassing to see such glowing reports about the global service design community juxtaposed against half-page ads for those same companies. And the hagiographic pitch for McDonald’s is a little much.

Still, what’s done is done. And there are some legitimately good articles in the mix. Nick Marsh’s essay on silent designers is a succinct argument for co-design. I’m also happy to see social innovation getting some attention. And despite IDEO’s needlessly snarky ad (“designing services in the days before it had a special name”) their banking case studies are timely examples.

Last but not least the sidebar on service design jargon makes a nice addition to help further the dialog.


  1. Thanks for posting this Jeff. I have one minor comment on your article and I write this as a plea to ensure you don’t alienate any member of my home nation…

    Yes, us Brits are very proud of our capital city, but there are many more towns and cities across the British Isles that sell The Guardian; namely, all of them!!!

    Your article should read “[…] for anyone who doesn’t live in the UK”, not “London”.

  2. Jeff

    Fair enough Chris; thanks for the correction. Now if only I could find a copy in San Francisco.

  3. Hey Jeff, glad you enjoyed the ‘silent designers’ piece. I think this supplement is only good news for the service design community. Hopefully it will lead to more ‘real’ journalism around design-led innovation in services.

    Agree very much with the comment about the snarky IDEO ad. That’s so typical of them – they always come across as trying to appear somewhat aloof from their peers. But this is a serious backfiring. The ad undermines the whole point of the supplement, and makes them look very arrogant. #fail

  4. I agree, the ad format is a bit odd. But given that newspapers aren’t making much money, it’s understandable that the Guardian created this construct: we’ll feature you if you sponsor. It’s then up to the sponsor. Not everyone that was asked to participate did.

    That said, service design needs marketing. And this was some good marketing.

  5. Thanks for the feedback on the supplement, we were a little put off by the construct, but we felt that it was worth it to get the overall Service Design message out there. And yes, we did get featured in a few articles.

    One other thing, if it you were to see it in the paper it does not come off as an advertisement, it is merely a supplement in the Media section.




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