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).


When designing public services, it’s not systems and organisational structures that are hard to get our head around, it’s people.

To really understand the problems that people face when accessing public services, we need to understand their lives, the contexts in which they are accessing these services – whether that’s at home, at work, or while trying to deal with everyday life.

To understand this, we engage users. A user is any person that the service/product is designed for use by.

We have two high level categories which support planning in who we engage with:

  • Citizens (personal capacity) - the people who are either existing recipients of the service, are currently eligible for the service but not yet in receipt of it, are impacted by but not in receipt of service, or are eligible to receive the service in future
  • Staff (professional capacity) - the people who are involved in the delivery of a service, such as agency staff or third sector staff

User research connects the people designing a service with the people who will use it.

It’s important that:

  • users are involved at every stage of the design, and not just at the start or the end
  • we do research in a way that protects those participants
  • we take time to understand and make sense of research insights
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