D Service Safari Methodology for Impactful UX Research

Por Redacción Aguayo

Discover how the Service Safari methodology can provide valuable insights to improve your projects, from planning to execution. Get ready to embark on a journey of observation, data collection and analysis that will transform your approach to UX research.

CAPTION: Photo by Sam on Unsplash

Introduction to Service Safari

User experience (UX) research is an essential component in developing user-centric products and services. In this context, Service Safari emerges as a unique and effective methodology to thoroughly understand how users interact with services throughout their journey.

What is Service Safari?

Service Safari is a research technique involving direct observation of users as they interact with a specific service. Unlike other research methodologies, Service Safari focuses on user experience in real-world situations, allowing researchers to capture valuable and authentic insights.

Main Objective: Detailed Observation

The main goal of Service Safari is to conduct a detailed and non-intrusive observation of how users interact with a service from start to finish. From entering the service to exiting, each interaction and touchpoint is meticulously recorded to understand user emotions, challenges, and highlights.

Basic Steps to Conduct a Service Safari:

  1. Service Selection: Identify the specific service to be investigated.
  2. Team Formation: Recruit a team of researchers who will conduct the observation.
  3. Detailed Planning: Establish a detailed plan that includes observation points, schedule, and key metrics.
  4. Field Observation: Conduct direct observation following the established plan.
  5. Data Collection and Analysis: Record and analyze the data collected during the observation.

Benefits of Service Safari:

  • Realism and Authenticity: By observing users in real situations, authentic and realistic information is obtained.
  • Problem Identification: Allows the identification of issues and challenges that users face during interaction with the service.
  • User-Centered Design: Facilitates the design of solutions centered on the real needs and expectations of users.

Research Objectives

Establishing clear objectives is crucial for the success of any user experience research, and Service Safari is no exception. When undertaking a Service Safari, researchers aim to achieve several objectives that go beyond simply observing user interaction. Here are the fundamental objectives of research using the Service Safari methodology:

  • Understand User Experience:

Gain a deep understanding of how users experience a specific service from start to finish.

  • Identify Points of Friction:

Discover any points of friction or difficulty that users may encounter during their interaction with the service.

  • Capture Highlight Moments:

Record positive and standout moments that contribute positively to the user experience.

  • Evaluate Expectation Fulfillment:

Assess the extent to which the service meets or exceeds user expectations.

  • Analyze Interaction Sequence:

Analyze the sequence of interactions to understand the logic and flow of user experiences.

  • Identify Improvement Opportunities:

Identify areas where the service can be improved to better meet user needs and expectations.

  • Validate Previous Findings:

Validate and complement previous research findings to obtain a more comprehensive and accurate picture.

  • Inform Design Decisions:

Provide actionable insights that inform design decisions and enhance the usability of the service.

Preparation and Planning

Before embarking on a Service Safari, it is essential to undertake thorough preparations and careful planning. These initial steps are crucial to ensure that the research is conducted efficiently and that the obtained results are valuable and applicable. Here are the key aspects of preparation and planning for a successful Service Safari:

  • Define the Research Scope:

Clearly establish the boundaries and scope of the research, identifying the specific service to be analyzed.

  • Select the Research Team:

Recruit a team of researchers with complementary skills, including observers and individuals responsible for documentation.

  • Train the Team:

Provide detailed training on the Service Safari methodology, ensuring that all team members understand the objectives and execution.

  • Develop a Detailed Plan:

Create a plan that includes specific observation points, the schedule for the research, and key metrics to be evaluated.

  • Identify Relevant Metrics:

Determine specific metrics to be measured during observation, such as waiting times, positive and negative interactions, among others.

  • Equipment and Resources:

Ensure that the team has the necessary equipment, such as cameras, field notebooks, recorders, to effectively record observations.

  • User Consent:

If necessary, prepare consent forms to obtain approval from users participating in the observation.

  • Simulations and Pilot Tests:

Conduct simulations and pilot tests before the full observation to identify potential issues and refine the plan.

  • Establish Communication Protocols:

Set clear communication protocols within the team to ensure effective coordination during the research.

  • Contingency Plan:

Develop a contingency plan to address any unforeseen issues that may arise during observation.

  • Ethical Evaluation:

Conduct an ethical evaluation to ensure that the research is conducted ethically and respectfully towards users.

Execution of the Service Safari

The execution phase of the Service Safari is the heart of the research, where the team observes and documents the user experience in real-time. Execution requires precision, attention to detail, and the ability to adapt to changing situations. Here are the key steps for the successful execution of a Service Safari:

Active Observation:

  • Team members must actively participate in observation, capturing significant details and taking detailed notes.

Data Recording:

  • Use prepared tools and resources to record key data, such as waiting times, notable interactions, and user feedback.

Team Coordination:

  • Maintain constant communication within the team to coordinate observations and share discoveries in real-time.


  • Be flexible and adaptable to adjust to changes in the situation, allowing for a comprehensive capture of the user experience.

Respect for Privacy:

  • Respect user privacy and follow established ethical protocols during observation.

Media Capture:

  • If planned, use media such as photographs or recordings to enrich documentation.

Continuous Evaluation:

  • Continuously evaluate the collected data to identify patterns, trends, and improvement opportunities.

Minimal Interaction:

  • Minimize team interaction with users to ensure natural and non-intrusive observation.

Flexibility in Approach:

  • Adapt the observation approach according to circumstances to capture valuable information.

Take Note of Immediate Insights:

  • Take note of immediate insights to share with the team and begin forming preliminary analyses.

Useful Tools and Resources

Having the right tools and resources is essential to maximize the effectiveness of a Service Safari. Here are some useful tools and resources that can enhance execution and documentation during the research:

Digital Field Notebook:

  • Use digital field notebook applications for quick note-taking and adding photos or recordings directly.

Audio Recorders:

  • Record conversations and ambient sounds to capture details that might go unnoticed during observation.

Screen Recording Apps:

  • Employ apps that record the device screen to capture digital interactions in detail.

Cameras or Video Cameras:

  • Use cameras to visually document specific aspects, such as the layout of spaces or physical interactions.

Prepared Evaluation Forms:

  • Have pre-configured evaluation forms to systematically record specific metrics.

Data Analysis Software:

  • Use specialized software to analyze collected data and extract significant patterns.

Quick Evaluation Cards:

  • Prepare quick evaluation cards with scoring scales to assess the user experience in real-time.

Maps and Diagrams:

  • Create real-time maps or diagrams to visualize the user experience more comprehensively.

Mobile Devices and Tablets:

  • Use mobile devices for observation, enabling effective mobility in different scenarios.

Collaborative Documentation:

  • Use collaborative documentation platforms so that the team can share observations and analysis in real-time.

Data Analysis and Results

After the execution phase, the next crucial step is data analysis and interpreting the results. During this stage, the team reviews the observations, notes, and collected data to extract patterns, identify trends, and gain a deep understanding of the user experience.

The analysis involves:

  1. Pattern Identification: Look for recurring patterns in user behavior, common issues, or standout moments during interaction.
  2. Data Categorization: Organize information into thematic categories, facilitating understanding and identifying areas for improvement.
  3. Creation of User Personas or Profiles: Develop user profiles based on observations to better understand the needs and expectations of different segments.
  4. Problem Prioritization: Classify problems or areas for improvement based on their impact on the user experience and the feasibility of solutions.
  5. Insight Generation: Extract valuable insights that can inform design and strategic decisions.

It is crucial not only to quantify data but also to contextualize and understand the "why" behind the observed behaviors.

Benefits and Challenges


  1. Deep User Understanding: Service Safari provides an enriching view of user experiences in real-world environments, allowing a deeper understanding of their needs and behaviors.
  2. Idea Generation for Improvements: Direct observation reveals areas of opportunity and potential improvements, driving creative idea generation to optimize the user experience.
  3. Hypothesis Validation: It allows the validation or refutation of previous hypotheses about user behavior and design focus areas.
  4. Authentic Feedback: Obtain authentic and unfiltered feedback directly from users, providing a genuine perspective on their experience.


  1. Time and Resources: Executing a Service Safari may require significant time and resources, especially if conducted in extensive physical environments.
  2. Subjectivity in Interpretation: Data interpretation can be affected by the observer's subjectivity, highlighting the importance of having a diverse team for multiple perspectives.
  3. Scale Limitations: For companies with a broad user base scattered geographically, conducting Service Safaris on a large scale can be challenging.
  4. Need for Contextualization: Results must be carefully contextualized, as observations may vary depending on the specific moment and circumstances.

Discoveries and Insights for Immersive UX Research

After immersing ourselves in the Service Safari methodology, valuable discoveries and key insights unfold for those seeking to enrich their UX research. Direct immersion in real-world environments unveils unique perspectives, and here we share the conclusions arising from this deep exploration.

Key Discoveries:

  1. Emotional Connection: On-site observation allows capturing users' emotional connection with a product or service authentically.
  2. Identification of Pain Points: Critical points in the user experience that might go unnoticed in more controlled testing environments are revealed.
  3. Inspiration for Creative Solutions: Immersion inspires creative solutions by visualizing the real challenges users face.

Suggestions for Future Research:

  1. Team Diversification: Include a variety of perspectives in the observation team to enrich data interpretation.
  2. Integration with Other Methodologies: Combine the Service Safari with other research techniques for a more comprehensive understanding.
  3. Adaptability in Digital Environments: Explore ways to apply the essence of the Service Safari in digital environments for remote research.

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