Service landscape maps: seeing the bigger picture

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This is a service landscape map.

A service landscape map -click the link for full-size version.
Service landscape maps depict the different stages users go through when accessing a service as connected blobs, with the activities they do as circles within those blobs. It also captures who the external users are – the end users of the service and those who act in their support – the things users do to achieve their goals, the teams of people who deliver the service and are granted some power or authority within the system, and supporting organisations that also have a role to play in meeting user needs.

Services rarely, if ever, exist in a void. They exist within a context. A landscape.

Service landscape maps capture and illustrate that wider context and allow us to see the complexity at play, and to develop a better understanding of the user’s whole experience.

Update (23 Aug): The service landscape map template is now available as a Miro template

Let’s take an example that most adults in the UK will experience on several occasions in their life: Apply online for a UK passport.

No-one wakes up in the morning and thinks “I think I’ll renew my passport today.” They use the service for only one reason: they are going to travel abroad, and their passport has expired, or is about to.

So anyone using the service is almost certainly doing so in the context of planning to travel overseas. Which means they are almost certainly doing some or all of these things:

  • Researching possible holiday destinations
  • Comparing flights
  • Looking at hotels
  • Looking into travel insurance
  • Searching for car rental
  • Applying for visas and other travel documents
  • Arranging vaccinations or inoculations

So we can see that our user is involved in a wide range of activities, and that renewing their passport is just one item on a long todo list. But what about the people involved?

Putting people in the picture

It’s quite probable that they our passport renewer is not acting alone. A spouse or partner, family or friends are probably also involved. There will be discussions, (dis)agreements, allocation of tasks.

There are thousands of civil servants who manage and run the passport service for the Home Office. And there are also many other organisations who provide services that our traveller will need: travel websites, hotel firms, travel agents, insurance companies, overseas governments, car hire firms …

So we’ve gone from a simple picture of one person using one service to do one thing, to a much bigger, messier picture of many people interacting with services and other people in a complex, dynamic system.

Service landscape maps help us make sense of this, showing who’s involved at each stage of the user’s experience, and what their part is.

We can also consider the wider social, economic and cultural context, and use it to help us spot gaps in the service, or areas for improvement, or even entirely new opportunities.

For instance, in the UK just now, prices are rising, and wages are not keeping pace. Also, the passport service is struggling under the weight of demand and difficulty recruiting. So people are looking for opportunities to save money, and the passport service could use a bit of slack to get through its backlog.

Can we use this knowledge to create a second tier of the service, which has a longer delivery time but at a £20 discount? We could promote this service through search marketing to users when they are sill at the researching destinations stage of their journey.

After all, if you’re researching a holiday that’s six months away, you can afford to wait 12 weeks for your passport rather than 8.

Using service landscape maps

We have created 2 templates for service landscape maps, for Miro and Adobe Illustrator.


To use the backup, download the .rtb file then, from your Miro dashboard, choose Upload from backup. Learn more about using Miro backups.


Service landscape map template for Adobe Illustrator (2.9Mb .ai Illustrator document)

To use the Illustrator template, you will need to have Adobe Illustrator installed on your computer. Note: the Illustrator template differs from the version shown here, it was created by Martin Kerr.


There’s also a PDF version of this template:


We wholesale nicked this format after seeing a Ministry of Justice blog post back in 2015. H/T to Kit Collingwood and the team for sharing so openly.

Martin Kerr did most of the work on our first iteration of this with the Illustrator prototype. I just built on that in Miro for a recent piece of work which I thought was worth sharing more widely.


No licence needed. It’s yours. Take it to good places.

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been a content designer, editor, UX designer and giant haystacks developer on the web for (gulp) over 25 years.

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