Design, UI, UX, Insights, Web Development

Double Diamond Design Process in a Nutshell

The basics of the double diamond design process, including the difference between divergent and convergent thinking.

The design process isn’t always perfectly linear and ideally applied to every single project. Even so, having a design process gives you structure, focus, and direction on how to go from an ambiguous problem to a complete design solution. Professional UI/UX designers prefer to have a more flexible design process, allowing them to adapt to each project. One of those processes that you can adopt as a baseline and learn how to adapt is the double diamond design process.

In this blog post, we explain the basics of the double diamond design process, including the difference between divergent and convergent thinking and how the process helps UI/UX designers improve.

What Defines the Double Diamond Process?

The double diamond design process is essentially a design thinking process that allows you to get from a basic idea all the way through defining the right problem before finding the right solution.

Its core philosophy revolves around the idea that the problem is just as important as the solution. And since design projects require both, this model helps designers adjust their mentality and understand when to think divergently or convergingly.

Divergent vs Convergent Thinking

In order to understand the double diamond process, it’s important to know how divergent and convergent thinking work.

This model applies not only to UI/UX design but to anything related to solving some sort of problem in business and delivering it to the business stakeholders.

You start at this problem and from that point, you diverge into gathering data through field research, quantitative research, qualitative research, user interviews, surveys, etc. The very process of starting from one point and thinking expansively, opening your mind to get out of the box, seeking new combinations of existing data, and expanding its “web” of patterns defines divergent thinking.

Convergent thinking is exactly the opposite. It’s the process where you start to synthesize the data and all your findings and discovered opportunities. This is where you activate your critical thinking skills and start narrowing down the issue, what causes it, and which themes can deliver the proper solutions.

To sum up:
  • Diverging/Expansive thinking: All processes related to exploration. This includes researching, understanding, exploring concepts, and coming up with ideas.
  • Converging/ Refined Thinking: All processes related to refining information. This includes analysis, creating a strategy, and narrowing ideas to one final design solution.

How Does the Double Diamond Design Process Work?

The official model consists of four stages: Discovery, Definition, Development, and Delivery. Each stage is visualized as half of a diamond, while each pair of stages compose a phase, visualized as a whole diamond.

The two diamonds represent the two phases of the UI/UX design process: the strategic phase and the creative phase.  In the figure, each half of a diamond is either diverging (discover, develop) or converging (define, deliver).

In its essence, the double diamond design process serves to help designers get from an idea they think might be a solution, to an actual solution backed up by research.

Now let’s get to the process itself in more detail.

✔️ Starting point: The Brief

Every design process starts with the existence of a problem. Before designers develop a solution, they must understand the problem they are trying to solve and the objectives they want to achieve.

For example, if you’re contacted by an agency that wants you to redesign their website, you’re already at the starting point. This means you’re aware there’s a problem with the current design that you need to resolve in the new design.

During this pre-process preparation stage, you can make assumptions about what the problem is and outline your objectives.

✔️ Discovery Stage: Exploring the Problem

During this process, you take the existing problem and start thinking expansively in order to understand and define the problem. This is mainly a research stage, where you conduct interviews, get to understand the user’s needs, analyze the competition, and gather all the necessary data.

The discovery stage includes:
  • Exploring the problem
  • Presenting hypothesis
  • Talking to users
  • Observing user behavior
  • Gathering insight and data.
  • Uncovering challenges and opportunities.
  • Understanding how people think and feel.
  • Understanding the users’ needs and expectations.
  • Sketching out the user journey map.

✔️ Definition Stage: Focusing on the Main Problem

Taking all this broad information and all the data you’ve gathered during the research stage, in order to bring it back in and refine it. The ultimate goal of this stage is to define the actual problem you’re trying to solve and discard all irrelevant data that might steal your focus from the main problem.

The definition stage includes:
  • Organizing, filtering, and refining the gathered data down to the essence.
  • Analyzing the data.
  • Creating user profile.
  • Redefining the problem.
  • Outlining a strategy.
  • Narrowing down and prioritizing features.
  • Defining the project requirements.

✔️ Development Stage: Starting The Design Process

At the beginning of this stage, you take your refined problem statement and you once again start to think expansively. During this pure creative process, you come up with ideas, understand the problem further, and come up with ways to solve it in a creative way.

The development stage includes:
  • Developing as many ideas and concepts as possible.
  • Building information architecture and hierarchy.
  • Developing user flows.
  • Wireframing/ Prototyping.
  • Testing the design solutions.
  • Gathering feedback and design reviews.

✔️ Delivery Stage: Testing, Improving, and Releasing the Solution

The final stage refers to filtering, testing, and prototyping all ideas to come up with a final design that meets the user’s needs.

The delivery stage includes:
  • Singling out the best ideas and choosing the final design.
  • Building and testing prototypes.
  • Delivering the solution.
  • Validating the solution.
  • Determining the solution.

✔️ Deliver Solution Cycle

The cycle at the end of the delivery stage alternates between coming up with solutions, testing, and validating them in order to determine what will actually be built. Ultimately, this cycle helps you improve your solution and design a product that solves the problem and you can confidently deliver to the user.

  • Building and prototyping the solution
  • Analyzing and testing
  • Repeat.

It’s all About User-Centered Thinking

Although it looks linear, the double diamond design process is very adaptive. You need to be prepared to be agile.  It helps you and your entire team define a clear roadmap and incorporate user feedback right from the beginning, which will allow you to focus all your creativity and knowledge on the situation at hand. The process is related to the user-centered design approach which focuses on gaining a deep understanding of who will be using the product and aims to actively involve users at every stage of the design process.

To sum up:
  • The Double Diamond serves to visualize the creative process. It allows any UX designer to understand and respond to the users’ needs.
  • It’s a method that can be used in a variety of industries and in your personal life.
  • The diamonds come from divergent and convergent thinking.
  • The first diamond focuses on gathering info,m user research, analyzing, and filtering data; while the second focuses on creating, testing, and designing.

The method has a lot of room for flexibility and variations, however, keep in mind that only practice will make the process perfect. Just trust the process.

In the meantime, why not get more insights and inspiration by visiting the related UI/UX design articles:

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