Choosenick. Notes and observations on service design, as well as other interesting things/thinking. By Nick Marsh.


In the broadest sense, my work focuses on how design and design-led approaches can improve services. In practice, this means that I'm a hybrid designer, strategist and researcher, and these days I now generally lead teams in doing all of the above rather than doing the work myself - although I'd describe my management style as a kind of 'hands-off nosey parkering', which means I get stuck into the detail when it matters, and act as a mentor when it doesn't.

The type of work I've done includes:

Service and customer experience design

I helped the new ventures team at Philips Lighting to design a new retail technology solutions business and set of supporting services. The new business, Philips Retail Solutions, supports retailers in creating multi-sensory in-store customer experiences, managed by a innovative 'experience management' software platform.

I ran this project whilst working at Engine Service Design. Read the case study on their site.

Working with colleagues at Engine Service Design I helped Mercedes-Benz completely re-imagine and then re-design the 'after-sales' customer experience across their UK dealer networks. This involved the design of new propositions, new digital tools, new interiors and exterior environments, new staff roles and many other touchpoints.

The new service has been piloted for a year, and is being rolled out across the UK in 2011. Read the case study on the Engine site here.

I worked with a range of clients at BAA over a two year period to re-design several key pieces of passenger infrastructure at their UK airports. We took a people-centred approach to the design of all aspects of the service - from propositions to communications to interiors - and worked closely with other specialists, including architects, to realise final designs.

I ran and worked on these projects whilst working at Engine Service Design.

User experience design

In my role as service design director at Sidekick I've designed much of the core user experience of Buddy, a new mood management service being developed with the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust for people recovering from long term mental health conditions. The software, hardware and service has been co-designed with patients and professionals, and is being trialled in early 2011.

Whilst working at EMC Consulting I designed the user experiences of several key parts of a complete website re-design and technical re-development for Virgin Media. This work involved requirements gathering, user research in call centres and face to face, analysis of existing user behaviour and then detailed information architecture, wireframing and documentation creation. At the time I wrote about some of the tension between service marketing and service design this project created. The site is due to launch in early 2011.

I completed a rapid four week project to provide the Heart of England NHS Trust with clear, actionable guidance around the user experience of a new digital patient records application and service they are rolling out across their hospitals. Along with a business analyst from EMC Consulting I interviewed a wide range of clinical and technical stakeholders, conducted contextual research on wards and in team meetings. I then prepared recommendations for the design of the application and changes to internal processes that will have to accompany the use of digital patient records.

Innovation process consulting

I worked with the head of design vision and the global design teams at Nokia to help create a consistent approach to envisioning the product and service portfolio across all major business units. This involved wide consultation across the business, detailed process design and documentation and the planning and facilitation of many large workshops involving hundreds of participants.

I ran this project whilst working at Engine Service Design. Read the case study here.

Whilst working at Sidekick I helped Barclays Western Europe scope out and plan an innovation process to engage colleagues and customers in the design of socially responsible financial products and services. Read more about the project on the Sidekick site.

I helped a team at Birmingham City University develop a new commercial offering called 'Service by Design' that gave small service businesses access to consulting and innovation support from the University's academics and partners. Working with colleagues at Engine Service Design I helped train over 50 academic 'innovation mentors' to deliver the consulting offering. A case study is available on the Engine site.

Design-led strategy consulting

UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, commissioned Sidekick Studios to conduct a strategic review of their 'products' (combinations of financial grants and support services). We spoke to social entrepreneurs across the country, conducted internal review sessions and helped the senior management team and trustees re-focus the product portfolio around a new proposition designed to help social entrepreneurs deliver deeper, more enduring social impact.

Whilst working at Engine Service Design I scoped out, and then supported the facilitation of a remarkable, human centred strategic review of the services Barnet Borough Council provides to its most disadvantaged citizens. We brought real stories from ethnographies with real people into the review process, and then helped the client team navigate through a series of design-led workshops to explore and explain a completely new 'vehicle' for commissioning services. Read the case study on the Engine site.