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May / 2019

UX London Round-Up: Using Service Design to Create Better, Faster, Stronger Designers

London, UK
UX London Round-Up: Using Service Design to Create Better, Faster, Stronger Designers

On May 30th 2019, Katie Koch, a Senior Design Manager in Premium gave a keynote entitled Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger at UX London. Here is a brief overview of her presentation, look out for a full-length blog post which will be landing on this site soon.

When it comes to tackling the challenges of a swiftly growing company like Spotify, service design is an essential tool. Here, senior design manager Katie Koch explains how it’s an integral part of her team’s process – strengthening designers and helping them make faster, better decisions in moments that matter.

In the 13 years since Spotify was set up, the company has grown incredibly fast – expanding all over the world and increasing its user base at a pace that’s uncharted for product development. As of 31 March 2019, there are now a staggering 100 million subscribers to Spotify Premium. The Premium design team is responsible for improving their user experience in the purchase funnel, driving their long-term engagement and making them feel like Spotify Premium is a brand where they belong, as they become more deeply invested in our service.

At Spotify, we prioritise delivering value to our customers, so getting to market fast is sometimes the most important benchmark. We’re constantly shipping, so we find agile solutions that enable us to learn from our users to create the right products for them, making constant improvements to our UX all the time. Shipping helps us meet our true goal: to create real experiences for people that make their lives richer. This goal is what makes designing for Premium so complex and exciting.

High quality at high speed

If we expect someone to subscribe to Spotify Premium and stick with our service for a long time, they need to find it valuable. But what’s valuable to a middle-aged father of three in California might be totally different for a university student just down the street. As a business, we must meet the different needs of our customers with the right Premium for them..

This idea that different people find value in different ways also extends across borders. For example, that student in California might be mortified to hear an ad on Spotify while playing music on a shared speaker, which is a very different reason for subscribing to Premium from a student in India – where more people expect music to be freely available and are not as bothered by advertising in their listening experience.

When we’re focused on creating experiences that make people’s lives richer, we uncover these differences and can design for them in our process. Yet, our work needs to fit in with the fast-paced culture of shipping. So in this environment – where growth and change are constant – we use service design as a tool to attain the highest quality of shipped experiences within the timeframe available.

When we use service design in our process, we see three important benefits:

  • It helps us stay connected across teams
  • It’s an opportunity to enroll partners in the process
  • It builds a foundation for designers to make better decisions in the moment


Stay tuned for a follow up post on this site where we'll share how we’ve used service design in a few projects at Spotify. Not only does it help us get to better quality shipped experiences, but using this tool also strengthens our designers, so they can make faster, better decisions in their day-to-day work.


Photography Credit: Luca Sage photography