Service Portal with an E-commerce Feel? Design cues in the digital era

As we continue to navigate the digital era, one thing has become clear: user experience is king. It does not matter anymore if you are designing an intranet page or web store – all companies must prioritize visual appeal, user interface, and ease of use when it comes to their online presence. And nowhere is this more critical than in the business and workspace. Yes, ServiceNow with its Service Portal or Employee portal counts as well!

Service Portal – user experience and user interface

User experience and user interface are crucial in designing a webpage as they directly impact how users interact with and perceive the website, ultimately determining its success or failure. Traditionally, service portals have been clunky and utilitarian, focused solely on getting the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. But with the rise of e-commerce, there’s been a shift towards creating a web design with an e-commerce feel and user-friendly interface.

Design plays a crucial role in the success of any webpage, as it directly impacts the user experience and influences the likelihood of conversions, clicks, and overall success. How can you translate e-commerce design into Service Portal design? Well, for one, it means focusing on the user experience. Good e-commerce is designed with the customer in mind, making browsing, searching, and buying products quick. Service portals can adopt the same approach, making it simple to find what they need and get the help they require quickly.

Efficient access to data is critical to any solution, and incorporating user experience and user interface into ServiceNow design ensures that users can easily and effectively access the data they need. By treating ServiceNow’s design like consumer products, we can modify and improve the experience to better serve your customers.

-Jacek Witek, UX Designer

Clean and Clear Navigation

A clear and easy-to-use navigation menu helps visitors find what they are looking for quickly, reducing frustration and making it more likely they will complete their purchase.

How can you translate it into a Service Portal design?

To achieve successful navigation in ServiceNow portal design, consider organizing the portal logically and intuitively, for instance, grouping related services together, and ensuring the header menu is prominently displayed on every page. Descriptive labels and subcategories can help users find what they are looking for more easily.

source: Decathlon
source: Garmin
Image: example of clear navigation in the Service Portal

Strong Visuals

High-quality product images, videos, and interactive 360-degree views can help shoppers enhance confidence in their purchase decision and increase engagement. 

How can you translate it into a Service Portal design?

Service portals can take a similar approach, using visual hierarchy and design cues to the user experiences, making the Service Portal’s layout feel more polished and professional. You should use clear, high-quality images and videos showcasing the services. For example, a Service Portal for IT might include images or videos of computer hardware, software, or cloud computing and data storage. Achieving a proper balance and ensuring that the visual elements are logical is crucial. In some cases, incorporating contemporary icons and colour schemes may suffice.

By providing visuals that accurately represent the services, users can better understand what they are requesting and feel more confident in their decisions.

source: SMEG
source: Marshall
Image: Example of strong visuals in the Service Portal

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Consistent Branding

A consistent visual identity across the website can create a sense of trust and reliability with the brand while also establishing a memorable brand image.

How can you translate it into a Service Portal design?

Choose a colour scheme, typography, and iconography throughout the portal. For example, if your company logo is blue and white, the portal’s colour scheme should use the same shades of blue and white to create a cohesive visual identity. Being consistent with design elements such as buttons, forms, and icons can help develop a sense of familiarity and ease of use. Another critical aspect of creating a visual identity in a Service Portal is using high-quality graphics and images that align with the brand’s aesthetic and reflect the brand’s personality and values.

In addition to visual elements, you need to ensure that the tone and language throughout the portal align with the organization’s voice and messaging. This can create a coherent user experience and reinforce the brand’s identity and values.

source: CoffeDesk
source: ZARA
Image: example of consistent branding in Service Portal

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Responsive Design

A responsive website design that adapts to different devices, screen sizes, and orientations ensures the site is accessible and easy for all users to access.

How can you translate it into a Service Portal design?

ServiceNow has built-in functionality that allows Service Portal to adapt to different devices and screen sizes. It provides a range of responsive design features and techniques, such as fluid grids and media queries, that allow you to create a flexible and adaptive design. In addition to the built-in responsive design features, you can also use tools and resources to develop accessible and mobile-friendly portals. For example, ServiceNow offers documentation on best practices for designing accessible portals and provides testing tools to ensure the portal is optimized for mobile devices.

source: ZARA
Image: example of responsive design in Service Portal

User-Friendly Search Functionality

A search function that allows users to find products quickly and easily can improve the overall user experience and encourage visitors to stay on the site longer.

How can you translate it into a Service Portal design?

Implement an intuitive search bar that is easy to locate and use. The search bar should be placed prominently on the portal’s homepage and designed to be visible. Additionally, the search bar should provide users with relevant search suggestions as they type, helping them quickly narrow down and customize their search results. If the results are not promptly displayed, users may discontinue using it. To improve the accuracy of search results, you can utilize auto-complete, synonym matching, and natural language processing. These features help ensure the search function is accurate and returns relevant results, improving the overall user experience. Additionally, allow users to sort and filter their search results based on different criteria to help them quickly identify the most relevant results. ServiceNow’s AI-powered search with natural language processing can perform various tasks, including but not limited to understanding and interpreting user queries expressed in natural language.

source: Amazon
source: Marshall


Personalization in e-commerce usually means tailoring the offer to the user, such as displaying recommended products on the homepage, using a general principle like Google Ads, i.e., personalized marketing.

How can you translate it into a Service Portal design?

Personalization within the ServiceNow platform is typically done at the group or role level. The goal is to present the user with relevant information about their job functions or responsibilities. For example, an employee logs in to the Service Portal, and depending on their role in the organization, they may see a customized homepage that features specific services, forms, or knowledge articles that are relevant to their job duties. This could include different categories of information, such as IT support, HR services, or facilities management. However, it’s important to note that personalization within ServiceNow is not as extensive as what you might find in a dedicated e-commerce platform. The focus is primarily on providing users with the information they need to do their jobs effectively rather than tailoring the user experience to drive sales or conversions.

source: Apple
source: Garmin

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10 Service Portal design mistakes

  1. Poor Navigation: Complicated, unclear, or difficult-to-use navigation menus can create confusion and frustration for users, leading to a negative user experience.
  2. Slow Loading Time: Long loading times can lead to user frustration and abandonment, especially on mobile devices where users expect fast load times.
  3. Overwhelming Design: Overuse of images, colours, or graphics can create a cluttered and overwhelming design that can be difficult to navigate and may distract from the main content.
  4. Inconsistent Design: Inconsistent branding or design elements across the portal can create a lack of coherence and may cause users to lose trust in the site.
  5. Complicated Forms: Lengthy or complicated forms can be intimidating and may discourage users from completing important actions.
  6. Poor Readability: Poor font choices, small font sizes, or lack of contrast between text and background can make it difficult for users to read the content on the portal.
  7. Lack of Mobile Optimization: A lack of mobile optimization can lead to a poor user experience for mobile users, who may struggle to use the portal on a smaller screen.
  8. Limited Accessibility: A lack of accessibility features, such as support for screen readers or keyboard navigation, can make it difficult for users with disabilities to use the portal.
  9. Unclear Call-to-Actions: Unclear or confusing call-to-actions can create confusion and may prevent users from taking important actions and abandoning the portal.
  10. Poor Search Functionality: A search function that returns irrelevant or inaccurate results can frustrate users and discourage them from using the portal.

Don’t worry if you find any of these ten issues in your Service Portal. It’s never too late to turn things around with the help of experienced UX designers and ServiceNow partners who can provide the necessary tools and guidance to achieve exceptional results. Book a meeting to discuss your improved future Service Portal.