Sources and Methods Saturday, June 9th, 2018

From Making Sense to Making Touchpoints: An Investigation into Graphic Designs' Methods of Making for the Innovation of Service Design Systems

Erica Ormsby, PhD Student / Lecturer in Graphic Design, Edith Cowan University
Dr Stuart Medley, Associate Professor in Graphic Design, Edith Cowan University

Our conference presentation will incorporate the ways in which graphic designers are ‘making’ beyond the design of ephemera within service design systems.

Graphic designers have contributed to some of the most recognizable and commonplace artefacts in use today including books, websites, wayfinding outcomes such as those used in international airports and digital interfaces such as the display on the Apple iPhone. However, graphic design has historically been linked with making ephemera. The specialised methods that graphic designers use to make some products have been associated with a consumerist, throw-away culture and consequently, the value in the specialist methodologies that graphic designers use to make is often overlooked. In contrast, service designers are being acknowledged by big business and government agencies alike for their holistic, community focused design approach towards the innovation of complex commercial and societal services, beyond the design of artefacts.

Graphic design’s methods for making however, are powerful tools for visual communication which can be used beyond the design of promoting and packaging unsustainable consumer products. Long ago, Ken Garland (1964) prompted graphic designers to use their skills for better making when he declared, “the profession’s time and energy is used up manufacturing demand for things that are inessential at best” (p. 2) and concluded that “unprecedented environmental, social and cultural crises demand our attention” (p. 4). Service design literature commonly focuses on the process of service design to tackle complex service issues but there is very little international discussion on how the outcomes of service design projects are made. This paper investigates the significance in how graphic designers make and the relevance of this kind of making within broader design contexts, such as those of service design. In particular, this paper will explore how the specialised processes used in graphic design are important for different stages of service design when innovating products and services. These include making sense of complex project information through sketching, mapping, service design blueprints and information graphics which make concrete the otherwise abstract ideation of services and the making of project touchpoints such as books, wayfinding or digital applications which are the crucial human contact moments with the service system.

Graphic design techniques can be used to visually map complicated information, consequently simplifying each stage of the project for all parties to understand. This paper will share examples of project sketches, mapped information and information graphics, which have been used to clarify data for service design project stakeholders. The paper will also discuss the relevance of artefacts for service design projects. The artefacts that graphic designers make can be significant when they are designed from the core of business and societal complex issues. This paper will present examples of effective products, such as brochures, wayfinding and t-shirts, made by graphic designers for a service design project. More importantly, it will demonstrate how these made artefacts were vital contributions to the process of service design.