The Service Design project of the municipality of Rijkevorsel


Photo: Yellow Window

What was the problem?

The municipality of Rijkevorsel is a rural municipality that attaches considerable importance to providing quality services to its citizens. Effective communication, clear visibility for the organisation, adequate internal organisation and an attractive and accessible town hall are all important aspects for this municipality.

The challenge mainly involved finding a way to best organise the town hall services to achieve an optimal layout and to better coordinate the services themselves. A service designer was brought in to elaborate and optimise the project. The objective of the service design process was to reorganise the town hall, design a new website, a new corporate identity and logo and develop better procedures for providing local residents with information.

What did they do?

The municipality of Rijkevorsel came into contact with Design Flanders via Flemish Association for Cities and Municipalities (VVSG). Together with Design Flanders, Rijkevorsel drafted the tender specifications. Design Flanders launched the tender in its newsletter.

After judging the applications, the design agency Yellow Window, with Namahn as subcontractor, was selected to implement the service design process. The problem was redefined into three main categories: the town hall design, location of the services in it and service provision; values and image of Rijkevorsel as a municipality; and the visual identity and website as a communication tool and channel service delivery.

The service designers used several methodologies in the process: observations, interviews with employees and residents, focus groups with residents, and a co-design session with employees, “personas” and “scene writing”. Yellow Window and Namahn organised various workshops involving employees and local authority officials, to conduct research into existing services, possible points for improvement and potential solutions for the latter.

During the first brand values workshop, Rijkevorsel and the service designers considered the values and the image that the municipality wanted to convey. One of the main objectives that came to the forefront concerned reinforcing the “feeling of unity”. This was translated into the key values “open” and “caring”.

The second vision & scope workshop was used to define the project goal. First, a SWOT analysis was applied to examine the difficulties and possibilities, then the main target groups were identified, and finally, possible improvements were sought by means of user pathways. The potential improvements were explored in more detail in the third co-creation workshop using scenarios and models.

A detailed examination was performed of the interior, signage, queues, the way the information desk was setup, brochures and forms, the tone of the discussion, etc. Information from the workshops was supplemented with data from observations and interviews with members of staff and residents, which revealed that “privacy during a conversation at the information desk” and “advice about the various services and channels” were major requirements.

What was the result?

The entire project was jointly prepared and led by the service designers of Yellow Window and Namahn. A test setup in the town hall was used to test solutions for optimising the services. Once again residents and employees were encouraged to participate, this time as test subjects.

The entire municipal administration department, the management and some residents were actively involved in this project. All the research and tests resulted in briefings and guidelines for implementing the solutions that had been presented for the corporate identity, website, the town hall’s layout and services, in accordance with the municipality of Rijkevorsel’s desired values and image. For example, a suggestion was made to rearrange the staff’s desks, so that services often working together would be would be closer together, and services often applied upon would be located downstairs.

Also, a system with a front recption for the first general questions, a second line desk for questions more into depth, and a third line desk with private conversation areas was installed. Finally, attention was paid to the accessibility of the town hall, e.g. adapting height of desks to wheelchair users.

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