Service Design for the City of Chicago

Human Centered Service Design Studio: Winter 2019


My cohort partnered with the City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology to explore and design ways in which residents discover and engage with City services and opportunities. My 5-person team was tasked with understanding and meeting the needs of service providers around the city.


Over the 10 weeks of the project, we performed immersive research, used service design tools and frameworks, and created and tested prototypes, resulting in a set of design principles and a prototype of a service that we delivered to our partners at the City of Chicago.



To gain an empathetic understanding of the role of service providers in the city, we engaged in many forms of research. We first performed extensive secondary research to better understand the complex ecosystem of services, including agencies run by the City of Chicago and local neighborhood-based organizations that partner with the City. We then conducted in-depth interviews with several service providers, visited offices, and attended gatherings of community organizations.


Our research led us to three key insights about the relationships between service providers, residents, and communities.

  • Smaller service providers are good at building and maintaining personal relationships with residents in the local neighborhood communities they serve.

  • Service providers do not have an effective way to coordinate between each other to meet resident needs.

  • Residents experience uncertainty when attempting to solicit help from service providers with whom they have no personal connection.

These insights translate to a set of design principles that we delivered as an outcome of our work.

  • Leverage existing personal relationships. Create new personal relationships between residents and service providers through existing ones.

  • Strengthen the service provider community. Build stronger relationships between service providers through awareness and a common goal: helping residents.

  • Reduce uncertainty for residents. Improve initial interactions and touchpoints between residents and service providers to make residents feel more comfortable seeking help.

Example Implementation

We created a concept called Service Connect, an example of how our design principles might be implemented. Service Connect is a digital platform to connect service providers across agencies so that they can provide personal and efficient referrals to connect residents with the services they need. We used paper prototyping as a tool to test the concept with service providers. This helped us identify risks and unmet needs, and we iterated based on their feedback.


We presented our design principles and concept to City officials and leaders, and delivered extensive documentation communicating our recommendations for future directions and strategy to our partners at the Department of Innovation and Technology.


Skills Used

  • Immersive research

  • Service design Tools

  • Paper prototyping

  • UX/UI prototyping

  • Project management

  • Visual communication