Service Prototype

Test the service by simulating a real interaction with one or more touchpoints

applied for



Service Staff




also called

Service Simulation, Hi-fi Prototypes, Beta Test, Service Pilot

what is it

The service prototype has the objective of replicating, as much as possible, the final experience of interacting with the service, in order to test and validate all the design choices. The complexity in the simulation is due to the fact that the service only exists once it’s delivered, and while testing the experience of using a specific touchpoint (such as a mobile app) could be relatively, verifying the whole journey touching upon different service components is always challenging (especially when there are physical places or interactions with service staff involved). The more the service expands across different touchpoints, the more the service prototype needs to be orchestrated as a big ‘mise en scène’, with a specific plot to follow. Touchpoints could be simulated with different levels of fidelity but at this stage are typically quite well-defined.

use it to

Observe how the overall experience is orchestrated and refine all the design specifications.

remember to

Instruct all the participants upfront and coordinate the simulation as the movie director.


2007) Dan Saffer, Designing for Interaction. Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices, New Riders Book.

case studies


feature image of 'Prototyping ways to increase support for reproductive health activities in Niger' case study

Example by YLabs

Prototyping ways to increase support for reproductive health activities in Niger

Designing physical artefacts to test assumptions behind different concepts


After conducting ethnographic and design research in Niger, we generated solution concepts to prototype and field-test. To plan for this, we used a “Rapid Prototyping Planner”, a framework that identifies underlying assumptions behind each concept and plans the appropriate conditions to test those assumptions. For example, one of our concepts was a financial planning training program delivered through an existing network called “Schools of Husbands,” run by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). So as not to fail, the concept assumes that (1) the UNFPA will want to implement this program in their schools, (2) the Schools of Husbands existing instructors will have the time and capacity to conduct this training, and (3) young men will absorb the content of the training in a way that might affect their reproductive health decisions. We planned to test this concept through (1) meetings with the UNFPA to discuss a potential partnership, (2) observation of a day in the life the instructors and a mock training session, and (3) A/B testing of different training contents, formats, and facilitators with young men as well as testing information retention after a few days.

what is interesting

Using this framework allowed us to be more intentional. While there is a general bias towards action in design, and a drive to start “making” immediately after ideation and coming up with concepts, this process allowed us to plan ahead so that the physical artefacts we created are serving the goals of our prototyping and testing phase, as opposed to making something “cool” or gimmicky.

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