Human-Centered Service Design

Design the moments that matter
Preview Course

Service design is the craft of tying together human, digital, and physical interactions over time to create a truly differentiated experience for your customers. Delivering great service can be challenging, but you can use design thinking to understand people's needs, look holistically at customer interactions, and constantly iterate your way forward. Service is where your organization meets the world. Learn to design moments that people will remember.

Course Outcomes
  • Build differentiation, loyalty, and long-term business value by meeting your customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations.
  • Better understand the interactions people have with your company and surface problem areas and opportunities through a customer journey map.
  • Focus your efforts by choosing the most impactful moments to design.
  • Enable others to understand and execute your vision with a service blueprint.
Part of Certificate Programs
Skills You’ll Gain
Empathy Experience Design Journey Mapping
Format Online Cohort Course
Start Date
Duration 5 Weeks*
Time 4 Hours/Week
Regular price
Sale price
Unit price
Download Syllabus
*Enroll in any August cohort course or certificate to get exclusive access to our new AI x Design Thinking Workshop Series.

Go Deeper with Certificate Programs

Human-Centered Service Design is part of a certificate program:

What You'll Learn

Week 1: Introduction

Get an introduction to the ways service is thought about today and the qualities that define good service.
Watch a sneak peek
  • Human-Centered Service Design—A sneak peek of the course
3 Video Lessons
  • Service Surrounds Us—It’s all service—and we can design it
  • Four Qualities of Great Service Organizations—Balanced, intentional, and human-centered moments that matter
  • A Mentor Moment with Ilya—Getting started on service projects
1 Assignment
  • Project Challenges: We’ve crafted a series of project challenges for you to choose from, all designed to be the right size and scope for this course. You'll practice your selected challenge during the course and later you can bring your learning into your own work.

3 Discussions
  • Think of some of your best and worst service moments. What effect they have on you in the moment?

  • What can you learn from an organization that you personally believe offers great service? What qualities do they possess?

  • What do you think will be difficult about the design process? What do you think will be easier?

Week 2: Expand the Journey

Learn how to see service as a customer journey that unfolds over time and pick moments that matter for your organization.
3 Video Lessons
  • Understanding the Journey—An introduction to journey maps
  • A Mentor Moment with Coe Leta—Gathering insights for your service
  • Tips to Pick What Matters—The moments to design
1 Assignment
  • Build Your Journey Map: Research your service, gather insights about it, and apply those to create a journey map.

3 Discussions
  • In a service you recently experienced, what did the before and after moments look like for you? What were your emotions before and after?

  • What tips or stories do you have when it comes to observing, interviewing, or gathering insights?

  • Think about a customer service moment that you've had recently. Was there a specific moment that really impacted you? How did the moment make you feel?

Week 3: Make Moments Real

Brainstorm ways to bring your service moments to life and build a prototype to learn more about a particular moment.
6 Video Lessons
  • A Mentor Moment with Melanie—Bringing others in
  • Generating New Ideas—Sacrificial concepts
  • Generating New Ideas—Extreme prompts
  • Generating New Ideas—Constraints
  • Make it Tangible—Prototyping and measuring services
  • A Mentor Moment with Susan—Prototyping service
1 Assignment
  • Prototype Your Service: Prototype a moment of your service, get feedback, and iterate if necessary.

1 Discussion
  • What do you find is the hardest part of getting others to participate in service brainstorms and prototypes?

Week 4: Share the Vision

Learn how to organize the components of a service into a service blueprint and share the vision of your service with other stakeholders.
3 Video Lessons
  • A Mentor Moment with Melanie and Ilya—Staying the course
  • Designing the Visible and Invisible—Creating a blueprint for your service
  • Communicating the Vision—Beautiful ways to tell the story
1 Assignment
  • From Journey Map to Blueprint: Expand your journey map into a service blueprint by considering the components required to bring your moments to life.

3 Discussions
  • Did you receive any feedback during the prototyping phase that helped you move forward or that stymied you?

  • How might you involve others into the design process at this stage?

  • What are some examples of compelling ways that an organization has communicated a vision to you?

Week 5: Conclusion

Learn why constant iteration is a fundamental element of service design, and create a service design project plan summarizing your key takeaways and highlighting your plans for the future.
2 Video Lessons
  • A Mentor Moment with Melanie and Ilya—Parting thoughts
  • Stay Flexible—Service is a tool, a prototype, a journey
1 Assignment
  • Service Design Project Plan: Synthesize what you've learned and plan your next steps.
2 Discussions
  • What is one learning or mindset you're most excited to bring into your daily projects? How do you think it will affect your work?

  • What are some ways in which this course has changed your view on Service Design? How will you use your new perspective, or how have you already started using it?

Meet Your Instructors

Ilya Prokopoff

Partner & Senior Executive Organization Design Director at IDEO

Ilya launched IDEO’s Organizational Design group to help leaders drive lasting change in their organizations. He has worked with Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, the Gannett Corporation, and Intercorp. Illya holds a degree in product design from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

More About Ilya

Melanie Bell-Mayeda

Former Partner and Managing Director, IDEO San Francisco

Melanie helped lead IDEO’s design for change work, guiding organizations and leaders to realize their creative potential and bring value to new and emerging markets. She has worked with the North Face, Citibank, T-Mobile, and more. Melanie holds degrees from Harvard University.

More About Melanie

Frequently Asked Questions

We offer three types of courses: self-paced courses, cohort courses, and certificate programs. Cohort courses run on a set calendar, with fixed start and end dates. Course learning is self-paced within those dates and requires approximately 4-5 hours per week over 5 weeks. Courses consist of videos, activities, assignments, access to course teaching teams, and feedback from a global community of learners. There are also optional 1-hour video Community Conversations, held weekly by the teaching team. 

All of our cohort courses are fully online, so you can take them from any time zone, anywhere in the world. With our cohort course experience, while you'll be learning alongside other learners, you'll still have the flexibility to work at the pace that fits your own schedule. There aren’t mandatory live components, so you don't have to worry about having to log in at a specific time. At the same time, you'll have access to a teaching team, which is composed of experts in the field who are there to provide you feedback, and there are also plenty of options to connect with your fellow learners.

Course instructors have a strong presence in the courses through the course videos, but they're not actively providing feedback or holding direct conversations with our learners. We have a teaching team to ensure that you have the feedback, guidance, and support you need to learn successfully in your course. Our teaching team members are design practitioners that have experience applying course methods and mindsets in a wide variety of contexts around the world.

Our teaching team consists of teaching leads and teaching assistants, who are experts in their fields. Many of them have been with IDEO U for many years, and we have selected those who have direct experience with applying the course methods and mindsets in all sorts of contexts around the world. They all go through multiple training sessions by our instructional designers on not only on the subject matter, but also on how to create safe and collaborative learning experiences and environments.

Community Conversations are one-hour live video conversations hosted by the teaching team on Zoom. These happen once per week, with each one having two to three time options to accommodate different time zones. Each week focuses on the lesson that you’ve just gone through, so the output and the content depend on the specific lessons. You'll have the opportunity if you work together with your peers on the tools and mindsets from the course, reflect on what you’ve learned, and also address any challenges that you might be going through.

All course materials, including videos, activities, and assignments will be available while you are enrolled in a course. During the 5 weeks of the course, you will have full access to our learning platform and can refer back to it any time. You will only have access to the course materials while you are enrolled. 

Assignments must be submitted during the 5-week course duration in order for you to receive a certificate of completion.

Absolutely! We have had many teams go through our courses together. For those taking our courses as a team, we provide a number of additional benefits:

1. A Team Learning Guide, developed to provide your team with resources to facilitate offline discussions that complement the in-course experience.

2. A Manage Learners function, which provides visibility into your team's progress within the course.

3. The ability to create a private Learning Circle, which is a closed space for discussion on the learning platform specifically for your team.

For more information, visit our Team Learning page.

We offer a discount when you enroll in multiple courses at the same time through some of our certificate programs, including Foundations in Design Thinking, Business Innovation, Human-Centered Strategy, and Communicating for Impact

You can also enter your email address at the bottom of this page in order to receive updates on future offers or possible discounts. 

After completing a cohort course, you will be able to add it to your “licenses and certifications” on LinkedIn.

We also have certificate programs that consist of multiple courses. After completing a certificate, you will receive a certificate of completion via email as a downloadable PDF within 1-2 weeks of completing the final required course. Certificates are configured for uploading and sharing on LinkedIn.

You can purchase a course on our website using a credit card, PayPal, or Shop Pay. For US customers, we also offer installment plans at checkout if you use the Shop Pay method of payment.

We typically are not able to accommodate bank transfer or invoicing. However, if your order includes 10 seats or more, please contact and our team will be happy to review your request. 

Collaborate with a Global Community

What Others Are Saying

Chris McCarthy
Chris Vice President Strategy & Design Hopelab
Colin Raney
Colin CMO PillPack
Emily Jacoby
Emily Service Design Manager Widen Enterprises / Marketing Technology
Michael Rankin
Michael Manager, Technical Services & Service Delivery Mercury Insurance Group
Human-Centered Service Design
Cohort Course

“Thinking differently is simply not natural and teams have such a hard time breaking out of old patterns. The folks at IDEO are best-in-class at inspiring new thinking, coaching through ambiguity, and leading the way in birthing new ideas that make a real difference in people's lives.”

Chris San Francisco, CA
Human-Centered Service Design
Cohort Course

“Almost every consumer experience has some element of service design—from navigating an airport to ordering books online. This powerful process fuses design and strategy to help you see the world differently and create new, compelling experiences. And once you learn how to think like a service designer, you have a powerful toolkit that will help you tackle almost any design challenge.”

Colin Boston, MA
Human-Centered Service Design
Cohort Course

“I know a lot about this content, but the course really helped to push me through a new project I wouldn't have taken on otherwise. I gained confidence from the course and love meeting new people who are also interested in my favorite subject, Service Design!”

Emily Madison, WI
Human-Centered Service Design
Cohort Course

“The discussions, principles and the journey process is really attractive in my everyday discussions with my organization. I'm focusing more on what matters and happens in the work lives of my staff. I’m helping people journey through that experience to meet their professional goals.“

Michael Riverside, CA

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Enroll As a Team

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