steps to developing a new invention

Product design vs service design: A comprehensive style guide

For a newbie, it can be challenging distinguishing product design from service design. If you find yourself in this predicament, you don’t have to feel agitated because, in this product design vs service design comprehensive guide, we will differentiate them.

Regrettably, even companies find it hard to differentiate these two designs. An essential factor in planning a new service or product is the service or product design. Nowadays, designs are created considering the customer’s wants and needs. In addition, the market competition and existing products are other features that are considered.

To make it easier, we will explore what each term means before looking at product design and service design principles. Finally, you will learn about the key differences between product and service design. Are you ready to clear any doubt you’ve had about product design? Let’s get things started.

Understanding Product Design

When you hear about a product, what comes to your mind? Obviously, it is something familiar that you can see everywhere. A product is something tangible – you can feel or touch. In other words, a customer can purchase a product, hold it, and store it wherever they like.

In most situations, the user generates the value of the product. For a user to purchase the product, they understand its value before making the final purchase. Product ranges from pans, pots, video games to t-shirts. Anything tangible can be said to be a product.

Understanding Product Service

Unlike product design, product service is someone you experience and doesn’t have to do with anything you own. For instance, streaming platforms like Spotify, Audible, and Netflix offer users experience, despite not owning it. The service isn’t tangible in each platform and possesses its value whenever the user uses it. Therefore, you can conclude that service is people-centered, whereas products aren’t.

Principles of Product Design

Principles of Product Design

From the definition of product design vs service design, it’s evident they have contrasting features. Before looking at these differences, let explore the fundamental principles behind both designs. According to an online source, product design involves the process of finding a market prospect, outlining the problem, building a solution, and authenticating the solution with real users.

Therefore, design thinking is the foundation for the product design process because it focuses on finding actionable and practical solutions. It represents a problem-solving process, which begins with understanding the scope of the problem. Furthermore, it focuses on ways of solving the problem.

For product designers, the product design phase is a valuable process that focuses on product development from the start to the end. It enables designers to define their objectives regarding users’ needs clearly. Once defined, it increases the chances of success of the product design phase.

The product development process involves several processes and can differ depending on the project. However, it follows a general flow that includes the following.

  • Product vision definition
  • Product research
  • User analysis
  • Ideation
  • Design
  • Testing and validation
  • Post-launch activities

Principles of Service Design

Service design represents organizing, planning, communication, infrastructure, material, and people components to improve quality. The goal is to improve the interaction between customers and service providers.

Service design methodologies are to create a design to meet the needs of participants or customers to provide a user-friendly, relevant, competitive service. It focuses on meeting all customers’ needs in providing an efficient service throughout the process. The service principle comprises the following:

  • User-friendly
  • Collaboration
  • Iteration
  • Prototyping
  • Design
  • Testing and auditing

One critical aspect of service design is research, which produces an effective service. Qualitative research includes interviews and observations that allow designers to predict different situations in which users can interact with a service. These comprehensions are used to create customer journey maps, personas, stakeholder maps, and value network maps.

Principles of Service Design

With these, different sessions take place to produce service prototypes developed iteratively. At this stage, designers can create or generate the best experience possible for all service users. The process continues with testing and auditing before the final service is released.

Importance of Service Design

If you have noticed, service design and design thinking are closely related since they use empathy to solve a problem. You can see service design as a procedure for developing valuable ideas. Let’s explore some benefits of service design in product development.

Places emphasis on people

Service design focuses on seeing things through a person’s eye. It keeps humans at the center of the process, which is a core principle. Therefore, it focuses on people instead of the product. When you understand the need of people, you can help improve their experience.

Builds or creates better product through iteration

The service design involves divergent thinking and convergent thinking, which helps narrow ideas to produce the best option. Teams gather information and research users before defining the issue.

Strengthens the backstage processes

Nowadays, designers don’t focus on the end-user alone but also on the processes in building the product. These processes include policies, customer support, and technology, invisible to customers. Researching plays an integral role in generating the right questions that will help produce a better user experience.

Creates unique opportunities

The foundation of service design lies in research and testing. Listing to people discussing their problems opens doors to uncovering questions you might not have considered. This opens a new door and becomes a game-changer that is hard to neglect. With this, the scope gets wider and opens up a different opportunity that offers a higher return on investment.

Product Design vs Service Design – Understanding the Difference

One crucial factor you need in the planning phase of a service or product is the product design and service design. Nowadays, designs are crafted with the wants and needs of customers taken into consideration. Furthermore, it puts the competition and existing products into contemplation.

Product Design vs Service Design – Understanding the Difference

The design process comprises key steps, including motivation, forecasting, and ideas for improvement. However, research, innovations, and development are vital during the production process. Product design vs service design differs significantly in several ways, as indicated below.

Firstly, service design deals with planning and organizing people, material, and service communication to improve service experience. It is an interaction between the customer experience and the service’s rendering.

Notably, a service represents anything undertaken to fulfill the satisfaction of customers. However, product design deals with arranging different product parts and business knowledge to produce concepts and ideas that can be transformed into a physical product.

Secondly, service design represents an untouchable intangible aspect, whereas product designs deal with the tangible aspect of a product. Furthermore, creating a service design involves spending time organizing and communicating the goal to users in the form of service. However, product design focuses on the product knowledge and assembling of raw materials.

Lastly, service designs are created and delivered concurrently since they can’t be stored. On the other hand, product designs can be held or stored in an inventory.

Here is a summary of product design vs service design differences.

Product Design Service Design
Tangible Intangible
Repeatable Unrepeatable
Measures output Measures outcome
Storable Perishable
Patentable Un-patentable
Control quality with data Quality is based on experience


Although service design focuses on planning and organization communication and people to create an optimal service quality, product design depends on solving real problems. It uses functionality to determine how a product should long.

Product design vs service design has diverse differences that distinguish them. While one is tangible, the other remains intangible. Nevertheless, the heart of service and product design depends on creating the best user experience. The place of product design and service design cannot be undervalued because they help produce a better product and user experience.

Getting your product design or service design done requires a team of professionals. GloberDesign offers unique product design and prototyping to everyone. They are here to transform your innovation into reality.