Good Services

Published on 21/01/2021

By Lou Downe, released in 2020

This is the kind of reference book you take with you whatever you go. Good Services is written around 15 principles of good service design. The author goes through each of them by first presenting a conflicting situation, contextualizing the principle, and then reflecting upon it, pointing to how to solve it in a practical manner. The nice thing is that in each principle, by the end of it, we're offered a quick recap. Gentle nice touch.

I guess that most designers have already felt in a way that when advocating for a certain decision, that is mostly aligned with the principles laid out in the book, it felt a bit too utopic for the other stakeholders involved. That's mostly why companies do falset engage in creating products based on these types of principles in the first place. The consequence is that the problems that emerge are a direct byproduct of a structurally flawed product (company, service). And then, when trying to prioritize good service decisions, ultimately, they seem too idealistic.

Good Services shows that principles regarding focus on the user and respect for the overall environment of the product or service in question have to be thought out before even creating the company/product/service. If you think about all the principles whenever you'd to design something, you are probably on a good path to creating a robust, thoughtful, and honest thing.

The principles can be used in whatever stage of the product you're in. I guess it's never late to start. You can start applying them in feature design, product design or even a company design. It's a field guide book that you'd want to check constantly.

What I liked most is that these principles are very much what I've been thinking of as system design. Some of the principles are especially about the type of incentives, behaviors and consequences of large and small order interactions between different parts of a product or services. These are a great reminder that the product you're designing is much bigger than it's landing page, home page, app, whatever. The experience is an overall bigger event that is a sum of all aspects and feelings your product provoked on the user/consumer/client. So, treat them with care and follow these principles.

Oh, the type!

Can't talk about this book without mentioning the reading experience of holding a book with atypical typography. I guess it's using Helvetica with some semi-bold weight, the text isn't evenly distributed in the page grid, which is different. And through the book, there's some kind of posters highlighting some important passages.

The 15 principles

You can check more about the book here. But, I'll be rewriting the principles down just for learnings and repetition sake:

  • 1

    Be easy to find

  • 2

    Clearly explain the purpose of your service

  • 3

    Set the expectations a user has of your service

  • 4

    Enable each user to complete the outcome they set out to do

  • 5

    Work in a way that is familiar

  • 6

    Require no prior knowledge to use

  • 7

    Be agnostic of organisational structures

  • 8

    Require the minimum possible steps to complete

  • 9

    Be consistent throughout

  • 10

    Have no dead ends

  • 11

    Be usable by everyone, equally

  • 12

    Encourage the right behaviours from users and service providers

  • 13

    Respond to change quickly

  • 14

    Clearly explain why a decision has been made

  • 15

    Make it easy to get human assistance

Thoughts about this article?

I'm all ears for feedback! Typos? Did something specific get your attention? Anything else? I'd love to hear! Drop me a note somewhere.