How does value co-creation go about in the UX design industry? In this post I would like to discuss this topic, inspired mainly by Grönroos and Voima (2012). As in my last post I would like to mention the underlying problematic characteristics of the UX design industry. In this post I will define the UX industry as the part of it that actually embrace the service logic perspective. That is, people that call themselves UX designers but are not concerned with user research and user involved design processes are not included in the definition of UX designer in this post. Concerning the problem om multiple concurrent service delivery I would say that also in this discussion is it important to separate the B2C service from the B2B service.

In the B2C service process I would say that UX designers generally are good at having the intention to co-create value with the customers. We see it as one of our main tasks within the team to include customers (users) in the design process (the provider sphere), and so making the joint sphere larger. And we always argue for the importance of user research, which essentially is about getting into the customer sphere. Unfortunately it is my impression that the industry is better talking about it than actually doing it. When I meet my old study buddies from the university at various UX meetups it is usually a lot of talk about how much more we would like to do. Some of us are blessed with actually getting free hands to do what we want. But many are trapped in an organization that does not embrace the service logic perspective, and thus are not allowed to work with all this.

So how can we work better with value co-creation in the B2C process? Well, if it is the organization that traps us, then it might be because we’re not working so well with value co-creation in the B2B process? How many UX designers haven’t seen a lot of really good user research material just be put aside in some folder deep down in the overfilled file directories of large projects? No one, not even the designer herself will know where that data is. So why does the customer organization not use the potential value that we put into our deliverables? Maybe they didn’t understand our value propositions? Maybe we didn’t invite them to co-create value in our provider sphere? That is, the provider sphere of providing UX design as a service to the client organization.


I think that it is fundamental for us to understand how to better co-create value within the B2B process. We need to do user research on the customers that user our service, and we need to invite them into our sphere for creating better services for them. A survey at the end of a project is not good enough. Just as a survey of how much a consumer likes a certain service is not enough.


Grönroos, C. and Voima, P. (2012), “Critical service logic: Making sense of value creation and co-creation”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 41 No. 2, pp. 133-150. Avaialable at

5 thoughts on “Value co-creation in the UX design industry

  • Pingback: Do UX designers truly embrace the service logic perspective? | Thoughts on Design

  • By Nathalie S - Reply

    Interesting blog post and interesting to work with UX design! 🙂
    You write that it is not enough with a survey on customers satisfaction or a survey at the end of the project, but instead doing user research and invite them to our sphere. Do you have some concrete examples how to do this in your industry? Like what kind of reseach do you think would fit better? And in what ways could you invite the customers?

    • By Jonatan Wentzel - Reply

      Thanks Nathalie for a very good question!

      Firstly, let me clarify that I am talking about the B2B process. That was not clear in my original post, but I have now updated the conclusion.

      So, in order to better co-create value with the customer in the B2B process I think we firstly need to understand our customers better. Just as we perform user research on the consumers in the B2C process, we have to learn about our customers in the B2B process. For example we need to segment the customers on important characteristics. One might be what kind of perspective the customer has on UX design. Is it a short and simple process that “just delivers some good interface design” or is it an advanced process that “changes the whole culture and work process of the whole company”. Then we need to come up with strategies for each segment that we want to target. These strategies must be tested with our customers to see how they work, and then we need to update them iteratively. Just as we work within the B2C process. To be more concrete I would say that we should ask our customers for interviews, and every time we are in contact with a client we should always observe what their needs are and how we think we could solve them.

      When it comes to inviting the customers to our sphere I think it can be done in many different ways. Firstly by inviting them to discuss the project plan, the deliverables and how they will use the deliverables. Here a big caveat is that our deliverables often require a lot of work from the customers to create the value. And a lot of customers do not realize this. Thus, we would need to communicate this more clearly, and probably earlier. I think it would help to involve all the actors within the customer organization that will make use of our deliverables as early as possible. But I’m not quite sure how to do that. Writing this, I do feel that I do not get very concrete in my answer. For sure, this is something I need to think more about. Do you have any ideas?

  • By Matilda wickström - Reply

    Let me help trying to broaden the picture by an example. I buy UX resources as part of my jobb and the other day we had an interesting meeting. Condensed from a 1,5 h meeting:

    Me: hi, help me take this web content and publish it with updates in a new user friendly format by this date.
    UX: content is much more than that specific content. Customers are online, internet is the future, we need to incorporate the world to know we are doing the exact right thing at this specific moment.
    Me: ok, yes, but I still want this specific content in a new user friendly format. Can you help me.
    UX: yes, maybe but that is not what i want to do.

    In other words:
    Me: i have a problem that i want to pay you to solve
    Ux: you have a much bigger problem then you think.
    Me: shit,i have a deadline and budget.

    In the process of making my life easier, it just turned more complicated. Perceived customer value prett low.

    • By Jonatan Wentzel - Reply

      Thanks Matilda for a very interesting story!

      I actually touch this subject in my latest post, Resource integration in the UX industry. As I see it, in your example there is a UX person that wants to sell you a service that she offers. You do not want that service, you want another. Then, does the UX person truly embrace the service logic perspective? Or is she offering the UX service as a traditional goods oriented company (buy what I sell or get out of here)? I think it is possible to interpret the situation in both ways. You do not perceive much value, but the UX person thinks she has identified a need that you might not be aware of.

      Let us assume for a while that the need is real. If you (the customer) realize that it is a need, but you do not have the time and resources needed to take care of it. That, to me, is a situation that the UX person should adapt her service offering to. Maybe, if the UX person does a good job, you will together work to get more resources to take care of the larger need at a later time. However, if you do not realize that this is a need, I would say that it is up to the UX person to decide whether she wants to make business with you or not. As I mention in the post linked above, I think that this is a customer segment that need a tailored service offering.

      Then again, of course the need might not be real. The UX person might have identified something as an important need, while it really isn’t. Well, then it’s just a badly performed analysis, and you probably shouldn’t hire this person.

      If the first scenario is true (both of you agree it’s an important need), you should be able to find a way to collaborate. The problem with the two other scenarios is of course that it is impossible to know who is right. So then maybe the best solution is to not work together?

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