Home Development of Websites The Future of Web Design Conference Report.Hannah Donovan, “From product to service

The Future of Web Design Conference Report.Hannah Donovan, “From product to service

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Immediately see or download (pdf) slides.
Time : Foggy, dank morning of April 18, 8:50 a.m. Smog.
After of yesterday’s conference. , a walk around evening London, a morning jog and a light breakfast, the mood is very combative.
Location : Kensington Close Hotel, St. M. Kensington
The nice girls at Carsonified patiently explain to everyone where to go. Too bad you can only be in one place at a time, because there was plenty to choose from (or who, if you will):

Morning session, 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  • «Creating Sexy Stylesheets», Jina Bolton
  • «Professional Photoshop Effects», Elliot Jay Stocks
  • «From product to service», Hannah Donovan
  • «Elastic Thinking: adaptable design in a world of uncertainty», Miguel Ripoll

Afternoon session, 1:30 – 5:00 p.m.

  • «Web Design-isms — Trends of the future», Larissa Meek
  • «Charm clients and win pitches», Paul Boag
  • «Guerrilla Usability Testing», Andy Budd
  • «Microformats — Building blocks «for a beautiful web»», Andy Clarke

Everything is so delicious, but to avoid the fate of the famous donkey, I had to decide. I chose seminars related to business rather than design or development, and at five to nine I was already sitting in front of a scarf-wrapped Hannah.
The main thing to know about her : from 2006 to this day, Hannah has worked as creative director at Last.fm. Only then she’s Canadian, a bachelor’s in design and just a pretty girl.


First we all got to know each other. Everyone told us where they worked and what exactly they did. Among the attendees were designers, developers, and managers, mostly from Europe. Most of them were from Eastern Europe, including Poland, Austria and Slovakia.
International joke. The Pole sitting next to me pours himself some water and asks me: "Water? – Yes, please." – I say. He fills my glass, I say: "Dziekuje." (in Polish), – he (almost without an accent): "Please!"
Despite the popularity of Last.fm especially in geek circles, there was a listener in the audience who didn’t know what it was. So we all had to listen to a lecture about what kind of bird it is and what it is eaten with. Along with all the known facts, however, it was interesting to learn about the main categories of users of the service :

  • Scroblers. Hardly ever visit the site, and if they do, they visit their own page to see the statistics. Among them is a subset of scrobbler-addicted users, which is where Hannah includes herself. If you feel that "the music you’re listening to with the Last.fm. plugin, as in "wasted, goes nowhere, " then you’re one of them. Time to come up with a name for the phobia.
  • Listeners. Those who just listen to music on the site. Talking about the service, Hannah, of course, is referring to the developed countries, where, as of January 28, you can listen to almost any song for free at Last.fm , as of today it’s the US, UK and Germany, in other countries the track length is limited to 30 introductory seconds. Yes, it’s all called "Free On-Demand service".
  • Networkers. Last.fm. Is also a social network.

But let’s finally get back to the main topic of the seminar. What is a product and what is a service? What are their differences, why make one into the other, and – most importantly – how?

Revisiting the economics of the music industry

I’ll start from afar. The average user Last.fm. is unlikely to have any idea how this huge machine actually works. It was a shock to learn that the service is based on one genius idea, which is the main driving force behind Last.fm. The bottom line is that the old model of monetization in music is obsolete. Indeed, when you buy a CD in a store, or even a song in the iTunes store, the artist gets paid for a certain amount, no matter how many times you listen to that song or album : 1, 10 or 100. And the revolutionary model Last.fm. is that every time you listen to a song, its author gets paid. Not just once when you buy the CD, but every time you listen to it. See slide 4.

Service is something that is of value to the user

How does this relate to the theme of the workshop? The point is that the main difference between a service and a product, according to Hannah, is the real utility of the former.
Two quotes from slides (10 and 11), "Service is…"
"… any service or benefit that one party can provide to another." – Philip Kotler
"… a sequence of actions or events of value to the end user." – Dan Suffer
Last.fm does address several important issues affecting all participants in the music market (slide 6):

  • user can listen to music for free
  • An artist or label gets paid simply for the user to listen to their music for free
  • every song is an advertising platform

And so if you’re developing any kind of service, it’s very important to be able to answer the question, are you really creating something that the user needs? (Slides 12, 13.)
Hannah asked the question "without which service (real or virtual) you couldn’t live a day?" By a wide margin, messaging systems (Gmail, ICQ, SMS…) and transport (air transport, subway…) won. Result: everyone wants to travel and communicate, no one remembered the good old mail.

How to create a service?

Slide 7: "So why should we pay attention to service design ?" (The translation is not very clear. It refers to the design that results in the service).
Slide 8: "(But) you’re probably already doing it!"
Slide 9: "We are the service."
That’s right, UGC, web-to-point-o. People create value for each other, and the service creators are just the intermediaries who provide the necessary environment.

Tools (slides 22-32)

  1. Definition of touch points
    Specifically for Last.fm is :
    – Google output (header and description tag design)
    – email
    – print and online advertising
    – widget Last.fm elsewhere
    – other people’s opinions (forming opinions about the site)
    These are the main points with which the user or potential user of the service often interacts.
  2. Process maps (I’d rather not translate the terms), slide 26.
  3. Blueprints, slide 26.
  4. Experience prototypes, for example [Youtube video]
  5. Persons, slide 31
  6. Scenarios


Time was running out, so we quickly went through the rest of the slides (38 made me laugh), stopping in detail only on slide 39 and 40, which speak for themselves. The 3 hours passed, without any exaggeration, in the same breath. Thank you, Hannah.

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