What is service design?

Throughout LEAP you will commonly hear us talk about "service design", but what is it and how do we use it? 

In its most basic form:

Service = A programme or activity delivered in the community to meet a need.

Design = collaborating to creating an idea from scratch, develop it, test it and rework it.

Essentially it enables people using the service, programme or event to shape what it looks like and how it runs.



Why LEAP uses service design?

Families and communities play a key role in shaping the early years services that LEAP offer. Designing together is about understanding stories and experiences, giving a wealth of learning to draw on.

Including the wider community in the service design process allows us to change together and collectively design more effective, desirable and sustainable services for families with young children.

How does Service Design at LEAP work?

To develop and redesign our services a series of co-design sessions are held while each service is in development.

These are attended by members of the community including parents, partners and early year’s professionals to add a mixture of different experiences and bring a service idea to life.

Service design tools used include:

Stakeholder mapping: Identifying who should be involved

Insight gathering: Carrying out research using a variety research techniques to gather experiences and stories of local families and workforce.

Insight theming:Grouping feedback from parents and practitioners into themes, what are peoples stories and experiences telling us, are there clear similarities 
Persona profiling: Creating a ‘character’ for audiences to relate to, helps to connect with a service user’s journey  
Creating storyboards: A visual way to show someone’s journey
Blueprints: A visual map that describes step by step different interactions and actions that are needed to deliver a great service

We then test these to make sure to learn and improve until we get it right.

Would you like to help us co-design our services?

Co-designing with the community is at the heart of everything LEAP does.

The insights we gain from both professionals and service users impact the services we offer and help us make changes in the LEAP wards. In the long run, we hope that our learning can help shape wider projects in the future.

Get involved


Are you a parent or carer with one or more children under four and living in Lambeth (ideally Stockwell, Tulse Hill, Coldharbour or Vassall ward), who would like to shape services for families in your local community? We would love to hear from you.

Your thoughts and feedback will have a direct impact on how our services look. Please get in touch via email leapadming@ncb.org.uk or call Sam Richards on 0207 582 4182.


If you work in Early Years or a related field and is interested in taking part in LEAP’s Service Design process and shape the services for families with children under 4yrs in Lambeth (Stockwell, Tulse Hill, Coldharbour and Vassall ward) we would love to hear from you.

Get in touch via email leapadmin@ncb.org.uk or call our service design lead Sam Richards on 0207 582 4182.

Sharing learnings

We work with A Better Start sites around the country to share our learning and best practice, on the 16th May we met all together in London to share our learning around service design with a focus on innovation. We heard from experts in the field at Dartington Design Lab and Snook, as well as sharing how we design with communities and experts at each site.


An illustrator captured the discussions and learning from the day, take a look…


Some description


General queries

For general queries regarding LEAP’s service design process please contact leapadmin@ncb.org.uk or call our service design lead Sam Richards on 0207 582 4182.