The Scottish Approach to Service Design (SAtSD)

The vision for the Scottish Approach to Service Design is that the people of Scotland are supported and empowered to actively participate in the definition, design and delivery of their public services (from policy making to live service improvement).

Research methods

When engaging with users, it’s important to remember that we’re dealing with people - their lifestyles, their livelihoods, their lives. Through user research we gather a lot of information about our users and these insights will likely benefit the design of government services beyond an organisation’s immediate perspective.

At the moment we’re not consistent in how we research or how we share insights for re-use. The tools and methods outlined in the Scottish Approach to Service Design will promote a consistent way of managing and sharing the insights across organisations. However, to ensure participation of users is accessible to all, our research and design methods must be:


There are 5.4 million people in Scotland. We want to create services that are appropriate for all of them.

We strive to make our services solve the needs of citizens and improve their lives. If we use our own abilities, opinions and experiences as a baseline then we make things easy for some but difficult for everyone else that doesn’t have the same needs as us.

Diversity is a resource for better design as it opens up research to more citizens with a wider range of abilities. It reflects how people really are and what Scotland really is. We want our design to reflect our diversity.


Doing research in an ethical manner ensures that:

  • participants are safe
  • researchers are safe
  • research is valid (objectivity and integrity)
  • research is lawful and transparent
  • research is inclusive and respectful


We want to increase our collective understanding of users by:

  • ensuring that results are used and shared
  • making participation voluntary and ensuring users understand how their data will be collected, stored, and used
  • increasing participation, not just in being researched, but having users drive research and participating in making sense of the data
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