The analysis of the representations in terms of level of iconicity (abstract vs. realistic) and relation with time (synchronic vs. diachronic) brings to the identification of four main visual archetypes (maps; flows; images and narratives) described with reference to their own different purposes; features and languages.
The result is a deep reflection on the existing visual tools; pointing out the opportunities that could be further investigated with respect to their use in supporting service design and design processes in general. Moreover the analysis helps in eliciting some thoughts concerning crucial points; such as the communication of the service aesthetic; that haven’t yet been solved but regarding what the visualization could play a fundamental role.
The background of this paper is represented by a research thesis (2) further developed with the aim to sediment some knowledge around the topic of tools used in service design. Several case studies were taken into analysis; in parallel with the examination of the existing literacy and the interviews with both academic and non-academic experts (3). Although the analysis comes from a design perspective and is permeated with our design culture; the ambition of this work is to become a resource for the multiplicity of subjects that are part of the service field. Thinking at the design community; the purpose of the research is the improvement of the actual practices and the development of new tools for a more effective use of visualization; thinking at the other professionals; this paper provides a useful systematization; leading to a more conscious use of the tools that support -or could support their work.