Trying to understand another person’s perspective is something most of us try, but don’t always succeed. However, for Sarah Forde, this is something she has an innate ability for.

After spending time working with local communities in the UK, Sarah decided it had come to a point in her life to take on a new challenge. She moved to Australia and continued to address people’s specific pain points by seeing and understanding their challenges through a human-centred lens. Sarah notes that understanding the problem — and therefore the person behind the problem — is key to to creating effective and specific solutions.

Through her work, Sarah discovered User Experience Design (UX) and Service Design (SD). With a passion to learn more and expand her skills, Sarah eventually decided to do the Service Design course at Academy Xi. It was here that she realised there was a name for what she had been doing all along — interview research.

“I’ve always sought to understand people. By studying Service Design, I now have the confidence and tools to identify problems in a more structured manner. The richer the information, the easier it is to meet a person’s needs,” says Sarah.

Prior to studying Service Design in Australia, Sarah was already exploring this field in the UK and unbeknownst to her, she now had the skill set and tools to solve problems with the end user in mind.

On a specific government initiative in the UK, Sarah was the Project Manager for the building of a new school. Sarah worked as the conduit between the pupils, teachers, architects, government, and other stakeholders. However,she found it difficult to balance everyone’s needs. At this particular school, the students faced unique challenges, including learning and behavioural difficulties.

This particular project involved the building of an art classroom and of course, the government had a very linear approach to it. It wasn’t until Sarah spoke to the teachers and delved deeper, that she understood the importance of the art classroom.

“A number of students were in trouble with the local police for graffiting and the classroom was the school’s solution to the problem. After speaking to the teachers, I decided to speak to the students. The students came up with a really cool idea: a blackboard in the yard so they could express their personal art, in conjunction with their classroom art.”

By building a classroom and an outside section dedicated to art, students now had a creative outlet. This initiative enabled students to be creative without disobeying the law.

Sarah uses this an example of human-centred design and viewing problems through a human-lens. This way of thinking is further emphasised in fields like Service Design, where the users and in this case the children, are placed at the heart of design.


If you’d like to uncover how you can use Service Design to create human-centric solutions that deliver value, come to Living Services: Designing Unique and Customised Experiences.

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