What is service design? – Cartoon infographic

“What is service design?” I’ve asked this question several times and not once have I received an answer that wasn’t filled with design jargon and littered with abstractions. I sensed there was a communication problem between service designers and their clients/non-designers. For a professional simplifier like myself an unclear but interesting concept like this is like catnip – it just begs to be drawn.

So I infiltrated the Service Design Fringe Festival in London to find out what this mystery practice entails and how I could explain it to lay people. This is the end result of my research. Download the hi-res version of the infographic here. 

If you want to use the illustrations, PowerPoint version and the infographic for work, please purchase the hi-res content bundle :).

What is service design cartoon infographic


Like what you see? Want to work with me/us to turn customer journeys, stories, employee ideas etc into highly shareable visual stories? Or need something explained that no-one seems to get? Email me at virpi(at)businessillustrator.com or tweet me at @voinonen

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About the Author:

Professional visual simplifier. Former digital campaigner.


  1. Barbara Magnoni October 6, 2016 at 11:27 - Reply

    I love it- let’s stay in touch! @barbaraateaconsultants

    • Virpi October 6, 2016 at 13:57 - Reply

      Thanks Barbara :). Feel free to drop me a line if you have a topic/message that is a bit difficult to communicate.

  2. Joseph Rossetto October 13, 2016 at 16:38 - Reply

    Brilliant, deep and amazing rendering of true stories…!

    • Virpi October 19, 2016 at 15:41 - Reply

      Thanks Joseph! I’m sure there were many interesting stories I missed that would have deserved an infocomic streatment.

  3. Adam StJohn Lawrence (@adamstjohn) October 15, 2016 at 19:15 - Reply

    I love this! Thank you!

    Though I must confess I’ve never met anyone who thought service design was confined to the world of digital. I’ve met that prejudice about UX, yes, but not service design. Great to learn that!

    • Virpi October 19, 2016 at 15:40 - Reply

      You’re welcome! The digital-real world distinction was one of the pain points I identified at the event I went to in London. But I’ve also heard that service design people in different countries/cities might encounter slightly different problems. Maybe depending on how the profession has managed to position itself in a specific place?

  4. Michael Buquet October 16, 2016 at 18:54 - Reply

    well illustrated… and entertaining 🙂

    • Virpi October 19, 2016 at 15:37 - Reply

      Thanks Michael. I try not to bore people ;o)

  5. Bruce Thomson November 14, 2016 at 23:15 - Reply

    Great story, well done, delightful. = )
    I’m sort of retired now, but was always an avid supporter of ITIL and CORBIT methodologies, and Edward Deming. Bruce Thomson in New Zealand.

    • Virpi November 16, 2016 at 11:54 - Reply

      Thanks Bruce! I’m aware of ITIL but CORBIT is new to me (checked the Wikipedia entry for CORBIT – if there ever was something that would need a cartoon explanation..:o). I’m a bit hazy on different methodologies for building IT systems, but for a layperson it looks like none actually take into account how people actually behave. Then again if iteration is included in the methodology then maybe that’s not that big an issue. Is iteration/feedback loop and improvement included in these..? I assume it is?

  6. Alex Montoya January 4, 2017 at 01:35 - Reply


  7. Mark Vanderbeeken February 10, 2017 at 18:32 - Reply

    Really nice and funny. But the high-res link doesn’t work

    • Virpi February 11, 2017 at 08:45 - Reply

      Oops! Fixed! Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  8. makiragold March 18, 2017 at 12:42 - Reply

    Very cool! But from the comments someone mentioned corbit? Do you mean COBIT? Its a useful methodology for IT management. Auditors in particular think it’s wonderful.

  9. Sudhindra V. March 28, 2017 at 22:40 - Reply

    Wonderful illustration!! Loved this.

    • Virpi April 5, 2017 at 22:27 - Reply

      Thanks Sudhindra! It was fun to create.

  10. Ash June 6, 2017 at 11:14 - Reply

    Virpi, what a great storytelling ability you have, thank you for sharing your gift with us in such a delightful, simple, and honest way

  11. venkata November 10, 2018 at 18:03 - Reply

    Importance of Internal Communication in business companies??

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