Service Design, UX, & HCD: What’s the difference?

In today’s blog post, we’re breaking down:

  • Definitions of Human-Centered Design (HCD), Design-Thinking, User Experience (UX) Design, User Interface (UI) Design, Service Design, and Design Research
  • A helpful diagram showing the similarities and differences between a few of the design approaches
  • A few case studies that break down when and why we would use each method

Industry Definitions

Human-Centered Design (HCD)


User Experience (UX) Design

User Interface (UI) Design

Service Design

Design Research

Diagram: Intersection of Design Approaches and Processes

Case Studies of UX, Service Design, HCD, and Design Thinking

Example #1: Reimagining the Adult Education Experience

  • 5 days of contextual observations in the classroom;
  • A discovery workshop with government stakeholders and partners;
  • A two-week diary study with 18 adult learners;
  • A discovery and validation workshop with service providers;
  • 40+ in-depth interviews with instructors, administrators, tutors, and current and potential adult learners representing 150 adult education organizations in the region; and,
  • Two days of co-design workshops with service providers and stakeholders to envision a new adult learning program model.

Example #2: Co-creating the Future of e-Learning in Canada

Example #3: Making the Journey for Child and Spousal Support More Human

To wrap up…



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store