The British Design council in 2004 came up with the idea of the double diamond design model. The purpose of the model is to help creatives follow a process that guides them through the steps of going from concept to finished product. The British Design Council was formed through a long study that involved large companies like Lego, Sony, Starbucks and Microsoft.
The 4 Phases of Double Diamond approach
The 4 phases are:
- Discovery – understanding the problem
- Definition – defining the problem
- Development – developing possible solutions
- Delivery – choosing and developing the solution
The first step of the double diamond is discovery, learning about the problem and starting the initial research into the challenges and problems that need to be solved. This can be done through user research and market research. Discovery can produce lots of different outcomes, sometimes you can have a discovery which you don’t find out that much other times you can find you’re overloaded with tonnes of data and research.
If you end up snowed under with all of this information make sure you know how to manage and organise all of the data. You can store this information through empathy maps or customer journey maps.
At the end of discovery, you should have a tonne of insights. The definition stage takes all of these insights and elaborates on it. The purpose of the definition is to refine your initial assumption based on the learnings from the discovery. The point of doing this research is to challenge your initial assumption so if you find in the discovery that the problem is different to what you expected then you can change the following phases.
This phase of the double diamond does have a few names, Virgin Atlantic Airways call it “design”, Microsoft calls this “implement”, in the UK Government it is called “alpha”. In development, you are trying to come up with different answers to the problem identified in the define stage.
From the development stage, you’ll have a few different ideas you want to try out. You will want to try out those ideas on small scale and then when you see a trend for the ideas that aren’t working you will want to remove them and take forward the ideas that do work.
Divergent and convergent thinking
What you’ll see when using the double diamond approach is that you’ll be using 2 types of thinking, which are:
- Divergent thinking – where you consider anything and you’re open to new ideas. This will be in the discover and develop phases
- Convergent thinking – when you’re trying to define and deliver your solution you’ll then be thinking narrowly, focusing on a few ideas to try and solve your problem through solutions
Within the double diamond, the framework is the way in which it should operate. It consists of 4 design principles:
- Iterate, iterate, iterate: to avoid errors and risk make sure to keep on iterating your designs to build stronger design solutions
- Put people first: your people (or users) should be at the forefront of your designs, understand their needs, strengths and aspirations.
- Collaborate and co-create: learn and work with others, be inspired by what others are doing.
- Communicate: get people involved, help them understand the problems you’re trying to solve and use them to generate more ideas.
Michael Gearon is a Senior Interaction Designer at Companies House in Cardiff. Previously Mike was a product designer at the GoCo Group including GoCompare, MyVoucherCodes and WeFlip. As well working for brands in South Wales like BrandContent and HEOR.