Service composition is a process of developing service-based applications that combine the functionality and features from multiple service providers in a unified solution. In this paper we report on a study aimed to gauge users' views and perceptions about traditional service composition approaches (such as control flow and data flow-based composition approaches) versus a system assisted composition approach. User preferences and opinions are obtained from a set of focus groups that aimed at exploring the mental model of end-users about the way they would prefer to develop service-based applications. The results of user studies are being used in the design of an easy to use service-based application development tool in the EC funded SOA4All project. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.