The Double Diamond Design Process: Our Complete Guide

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Madison Zoey Vettorino
Madison Zoey Vettorino

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If you want to supercharge your design efforts and create a more enjoyable user experience on your website, look no further than the double diamond design process to help you do so. By enacting this approach, you'll create more effective solutions your users will love.

double diamond design process: image shows a laptop computer with broken gears on the screen

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In this post, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about the double diamond UX design process. We'll answer the main question, "What is the double diamond design process?" Then, we'll dive into additional must-know information about 

What is the double diamond design process? 

The double diamond UX design process originated in 2005, thanks to the British Design Council. It was created to help UX designers finish tasks more efficiently while yielding the best possible results. It's no secret to UX designers that ideating a solution to a problem can be anything but linear — and that's where the double diamond design process comes into the picture. 

The hallmark of the double diamond design process is its four disparate stages: 

  • Discovery

  • Definition 

  • Development 

  • Delivery

You might be wondering: Where does the term 'double diamond' come into the picture? It all has to do with the way this roadmap is formatted for designers. Visually, it looks like this: 

double diamond design process: shows two diamonds next to eachother. in the first it reads discovery then definition, in the second it reads development and delivery

It's important to note that this process wasn't created to make the process linear — in fact, it's wise for designers to circle back on the different stages to ensure they're checking all the boxes on developing a solution or altering an existing one. However, the system does allow designers to follow along with a streamlined process to help expedite their ability to find a creative, viable solution more efficiently. If you're curious to learn more about how the British Design Council determined these steps were optimal, we're happy to share

The Council completed a lengthy study that included household-name corporations, including Starbucks, LEGO, and Microsoft. Through the study, the Council determined that, while all organizations had a different name for the process, they all completed the same steps to find a solution. 

Now that you know the double diamond UX design process, let's dive deeper into its different stages. 

The Double Diamond Design Process Stages: A Rundown 

Ready to walk through the stages of the double diamond design process? Here's what you need to know. Notice that we'll refrain from referring to these steps as 'one' or 'two,' and so on — you're supposed to revisit these stages throughout the process. 

Discovery

You'll start with discovery when you begin the double diamond design process. In this phase, you'll unearth essential findings to return to as you iterate. In the discovery phase, it's time for you to explore what challenges or problems the project presents. You're trying to answer the question: What is causing this problem? By doing so, you'll better understand the project's scope — and how your team may attempt to solve it. 

Additionally, this step is when you will collect all the information you need about the challenge ahead. Be sure you document everything — you'll need to refer back to it later. In this phase, you may use market research and user testing to gain crucial insights. The British Design Council also noted that another best practice in the discovery phase was to allow designers to get up close and personal with users to get a first-hand understanding of the friction they experience. 

Let's run through an example. Say you're a user experience designer hired to make a pre-existing app more accessible. During the discovery phase, the company may invite you to sit in on user testing sessions. This will give you more empathy and a more comprehensive understanding of how real users interact with the process. 

Pro Tip: Encourage designers to keep their minds open. Discovery is considered a 'divergent thinking' step because, during this step, designers should be willing to consider multiple solutions. Try to encourage people to avoid getting stuck on a particular solution but maintain the focus on how they can create a user-centered design

Definition 

Once you've moved to the definition phase of the double diamond UX design process, you'll be asked to exercise convergent thinking. Unlike in the discovery phase, where divergent thinking was the way to go, you're now attempting to define and, ultimately, deliver a solution to the problem. Another hallmark of convergent thinking is that you try to hone in on a few potential solutions instead of considering as many as possible, like in the discovery phase. 

In the definition phase, your job is to analyze the data you've gathered in the first step. This is the point where you'll refine your initial hypothesis with new insights you acquired during the discovery phase. The idea is that if you did not have the full scope of the problem in the discovery phase, you will when you arrive at the definition phase. In some cases, insights acquired during the discovery phase may even reveal to you that the problem you thought you were solving isn't the problem at all, and other factors at play need to be addressed. 

You'll probably have more data from the discovery phase than you'll know what to do with — so your design team must discern between essential and superfluous information. Most notably, this step is also when you'll start to work on considering potential solutions using insights gained from the discovery phase. And if you don't feel like your findings are substantial enough, don't worry — you can always return to discovery and complete more testing. 

(Psst: This phase is also where you'll ensure the solution feels 'on brand' for your company and that your proposed solutions are realistic!) 

Pro Tip: The definition stage is also your opportunity to align with your team on project goals. You should meet with internal and external (if applicable) stakeholders to ensure you are effectively communicating the project's aim.

Development 

So, you've researched, combed through the data to get actionable insights, and refined potential solutions so only on-brand, realistic options exist. Now, it's time for the development phase of the double diamond design process. 

Now that you're in the development stage, it's time for your team to brainstorm solutions and begin testing them thoroughly. Some hallmarks of the development phase include prototypes, wireframes, and sketches. By using these tools, you can better convey what potential solutions may look like. As mentioned, this portion of the process also includes testing with the end user.  

One thing that's important to note is that in the development phase, you once again are asked to practice divergent thinking and open yourself up to different ways of doing things. 

Pro Tip: To successfully test the product, you must make a persona for each target user. To do this, you can use tools such as HubSpot's Make My Persona tool

Delivery 

Delivery is widely considered the last step of the double diamond design process. Once you've tested, tested again, and found your viable solution, it's time for delivery. This phase involves — you guessed it — delivering the product or solution to your users. However, that doesn't mean your job is done — you still have invaluable work to do by collecting user feedback. From there, you can implement that commentary in the next iteration of the product or solution. As you probably guessed, this phase is associated with convergent thinking. 

Pro Tip: One excellent way to collect consumer feedback is by using a survey. This allows you to keep all the information in one easy-to-find place. 

Why use the double diamond UX design process? 

Consider using the double diamond UX design process because it offers a map to navigate better the challenges, opportunities, and hurdles that accompany finding a design solution. This process gives tangible names to steps that can otherwise be tricky to define. When you use the double diamond UX design process, essential internal and external stakeholders alike can follow along with your progress in a digestible and straightforward way. 

Additionally, we like the double diamond design process because it emphasizes testing and encourages designers to use their past steps to inform their next ones. By implementing this process, you may find that your design team arrives at a comprehensive solution more efficiently than they would otherwise. 

The Double Diamond Design Process: Setting You Up for Success 

There you have it: A complete rundown on how the double diamond design process sets your team up for success. Remember that as you go through this process, you can always dial it back a step if you're missing important information. The double diamond design process is just a roadmap — but you can customize it to make it work better for you. 

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Topics: User Experience

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