The Double Diamond Design Process: Everything You Need to Know

Alex Bell

Before a product is built, it’s designed. 

And designing a winning product isn’t easy, simple, or straightforward. 

It’s nonlinear. 

It’s messy. 

And it requires a clear vision for the “future state” of the product. 

This means you can’t rely on design processes or thought models that are rigid and don’t allow for unstructured, outside-the-box thinking. 

You need a flexible model that incorporates many members of your team and unleashes the full creativity of everyone involved. 

We suggest using Double Diamond. 

It will help you generate more ideas than you thought you had and narrow them down to the winning solution.

We’ll walk you step-by-step through the stages of the Double Diamond design process so you can start using it in your business.

What Is the Double Diamond Design Process?

Diamond
Knowing where Double Diamond came from will help you understand how powerful and important it is.


Double Diamond was invented by the British Design Council in 2005.

It began with a study involving major enterprises such as Microsoft, Starbucks, Sony and LEGO to understand how top designers working for leading brands process information and create the solutions customers want to buy. 

What they found was that every company they studied followed a loose set of the same steps on their path to innovation. 

The companies called the process by different names and applied the process in different ways - but every time they needed to solve a difficult problem or perform a tough task or deliver on a big opportunity, they went through similar stages. 

The British Design Council named this set of stages the Double Diamond design model. 

What are the Stages of Double Diamond Design?

Colored circle chart
Double Diamond design is not one action, but a series of them.


The Double Diamond design process has 4 distinct stages to organize your thoughts and ideas:

  • Discovery
  • Definition
  • Development
  • Delivery

Let’s see each below:

Discovery

The first stage of the Double Diamond design process helps you identify and fully contextualize the main problem you’re solving or the opportunity you’re taking advantage of and the variables involved.

It’s critical at this stage for everyone involved to maintain an open mind to all possible solutions, otherwise, problem-solving becomes stunted and it will be harder to find the best of all possible solutions. 

One thing the British Design Council found in their study is that all the companies they observed put users at the front of the design process. Market research and user testing were common practices at this stage. 

The goal here is to generate as many ideas as you can. 

As much information about your market as you can. 

And organize all of this data into a project brief and other usable documents that can be easily shared for optimal communication. 

Another best practice found by the British Design Council was getting your designers involved in the research process, not just the design process. Seeing and participating in the process themselves, allows designers to both share their insights and start generating ideas long before they start crafting a solution.

Designers, product managers, and everyone else involved should use empathy in their design thinking. One effective exercise for this is developing an empathy map

This tool lets you capture exactly what your customers are thinking, feeling, saying, and doing. The key to this exercise is ONLY including what you actually observe - don’t just make stuff up about your customer. 

A second effective exercise to use is creating a customer journey map. 

This tool lets you map out a prospects’s touchpoints on the path toward becoming a customer and the path a customer takes to use your product to solve their problem. 

It’s effectively a timeline of the actions they take and the aspects of your product or brand they interact with during this journey. 

Definition

The definition stage is when you gather all the data collected in the previous stage and make sense of it. Plucking out the relevant information from the irrelevant and giving your findings context and meaning. 

The data you’ve gathered can’t be passed off to stakeholders to even get their opinion yet, because it could cause them to focus on irrelevant information. 

It’s time to filter the information you have. 

First try to identify bottlenecks that can disrupt the design process, find areas that will waste resources, and define what shouldn’t be done. 

Designers have to take into account the financial resources of the company, the resources at their disposal, the situation of the market at the time of design, and the logistics of designing a product before design begins.

In other words, you’re assessing what you can realistically create and the essential components to create it. 

This stage ends when you present all the relevant data you have to the C-suite, stakeholders, executives, and any other decision-makers for their stamp of approval, along with a budget and the necessary resources to begin. 

One thing you’ll want to do at this stage is make a list of the issues customers are dealing with, the opportunities to available to explore, and the positive experiences your customers are having. 

A great exercise for this is Rose, Thorn, Bud.

You gather your team and preferably a huge whiteboard or something similar with 3 columns for each section, Roses, Thorns, and Buds. 

Roses are the positive things your customers experience and the things working well with an existing solution or customer journey. 

Thorns are negative experiences customers are having and things that aren’t working.

Buds are yet-to-be investigated opportunities.

Another useful and practical exercise is the How Might We (HMW) method

It forces you to take your pain points (thorns, if you do the previous exercise) and reframe them as questions to be solved, often in a more positive, ambitious way. 

Development

Development is the actual design stage where you produce a solution based on everything you’ve gathered and sorted out in the last 2 stages. 

This stage requires a lot of multidisciplinary work and that means many people from different departments working together, engineers, developers, even marketers working alongside designers. 

You can run into serious trouble if you don’t assemble a diverse team at this stage. 

Say, for instance, you want to manufacture a product using your own facilities, and you decide to move forward on that idea. But then much later down the road you find out that your manufacturing facilities can’t handle the new product and backorders they’re currently processing. 

Back to the drawing board. 

But if you had someone from manufacturing, knowing that you want to manufacture it in-house, they could’ve told you then why they couldn’t manufacture the product, or come up with a solution for how they could before manufacturing begins. 

The goal is to speed up the development stage and prototype a solution fast. The benefit of using people from so many different departments is fewer prototypes and fewer problems discovered when testing the prototype. 

Continuous testing and feedback are used often at this stage. 

Delivery

The delivery stage is when you test the product you’ve created and deliver the final version of it for official sign-off before it goes into production and launch. 

This is your final pass before it’s sent to customers, so it pays to be patient in this stage and thoroughly check and test every aspect of the product. 

Make sure it doesn’t violate any regulations or legal standards. 

Test its resiliency to damage. 

Check its compatibility with other products the customer will be using. 

And perform as many tests as needed to ensure it works the way it’s supposed to. 

How the British Design Council Evolved the Double Diamond Design Process

British Design Council
Even extraordinary design models used and praised worldwide need some refinement


The British Council recently expanded the Double Diamond process and now calls it the Framework for Innovation

The stages we just laid out are still part of it, but they’ve made a few additions. 

The new model features 4 “design principles”:

  • User-Centered Design, i.e. make solutions that solve real problems for real people, not just perform a nice function. 
  • Visual Thinking, i.e. communicate visually to reduce miscommunication and confusion.
  • Co-creation, i.e. work together with everyone on your team to create something amazing. 
  • Agile / Lean, i.e. apply the principles and methods of agile software development to quickly create products and iterate, iterate, iterate. 

These 4 new models for thinking and creation emphasize the fact that much of design today is oriented around innovation. It also recognizes that a design process by itself isn’t enough. 

A design process is necessary, but sometimes you have to deviate from it, and when you’re swimming in uncertain waters, it’s helpful to have principles and methods that can be used ad-hoc to navigate toward a great final product, even if it’s accomplished in a “messy” way. 

The new framework also recognizes that design is not linear. The original model understood this as well, but still breaks the process into somewhat linear processes. Because of the rise of Agile and lean startups, the British Design Council saw the need to provide designers with a definitive way to create and iterate continuously. 

The Double Diamond design process, now the Framework for Innovation, is a phenomenal tool for teams who want a clear vision for what they create and want to make sure it serves their customers and performs exceptionally well. 

However, it doesn’t deliver everything it recommends, like visual communication. 

But it’s such an important recommendation for smooth product creation, and one area where many teams fail...or fail to see how easy this is to implement. 

Now you can have your Double Diamond design process AND a powerful (and super simple) visual communication tool. 

The Visual Communication Tool That Enhances Double Diamond

Visual communication is intuitively better than text or speech. How often have you wondered “I wish I could SEE that done instead of just read about it” or “I need an example to understand that”?

You already know in your gut that visuals just work better in communication. 

But hard data backs this up too. 

People only remember 20% of what they read and 81% of educated people skim instead of read online. 

Showing instead of telling isn’t just good writing advice, it’s sound collaboration advice for driven teams. 

At CloudApp, we believe fast and easy collaboration is a great thing, not only for your bottom line, but for your company culture as well.

That’s why we’ve built a tool that brings HD screen and webcam recording, GIF creation, screenshots and annotations to the cloud in an easy-to-use, enterprise-grade app so you can quickly create and share visual content.

We’ve been ranked by G2 Crowd as one of the top sales enablement tools and we can help you develop better products with better communication.

Find out why CloudApp is an essential tool to use with Double Diamond today.

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