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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Defining Services for Designers

  • Author(s): Sims, Christo
  • et al.

This paper is part of a larger effort to improve methodologies for service design. It focuses on one small, but fundamental, component of this endeavor: defining services in a manner useful for designers. Doing so provides common vocabulary and conceptual groundwork for differentiating services from products and distinguishing between different types of services. This paper begins by aggregating and refining existing definitions of services. As will be shown, services differ from products in that they are not entities; rather, they are social, technical or socio-technical relationships that transform something of value for the service recipient. The paper then offers conceptual strategies for characterizing similarities and differences between various service relationships. It proposes a multidimensional approach for mapping the service landscape. Such an approach differs significantly from existing classification approaches and represents an exciting area for future research.

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