Applying the Double Diamond Model

January 22, 2023

A universally accepted model of the design and innovation process, the double diamond is a visual process model that aids our understanding of the UX design process. Think of this model as a road map—from the problem to the solution and covering everything in between.

The big idea of the double diamond model is that the problem and the solution are equally important. But problem-finding and problem-solving are two distinctly different design activities. It’s almost as though the model asks us to think beyond problem-solving because that makes finding the solution relatively more straightforward. However, morphing into being a problem-finder is the more challenging, more elusive task.

You may already be applying the double diamond model to navigate hurdles in your everyday life without realizing it. Before we get to that, let’s consider how the model took shape and came to be.

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The Origins of the Double Diamond Model

Although people have been speaking about, applying, and operating on the basis of diamond-shaped models for a long time, the British Design Council officially defined the double diamond model and coined the term in the early 2000s.

After extensively studying the “problem to solution path” within some of the largest companies in the world such as LEGO, Microsoft, and Starbucks, the Council learned that, although they gave their processes different names, the steps they took were similar. Of course, they had various ways of performing specific actions, but always in service of the same larger goal.

The Council then streamlined the process for the world and divided it into tangible stages, birthing what is now popularly known as the double diamond design process model.

The 4 Ds of the Double Diamond Model

One thing that designers and problem-finders share in common is creativity. Any creative being would be quick to tell you that problem-solving isn’t a linear path. Instead, one must create pathways within pathways.

The double diamond process model comprises four stages: Discovery, Definition, Development, and Delivery. Designers and others who implement this model are encouraged to color outside the lines—to dip into and out of these four stages to find a new solution or improve upon an existing one.

If you don’t know where to begin, channel your inner Columbus. Dig deep and discover. That’s the first stage.

Stage 1: Discovery: What Is the Problem?

Are you sure you know what the problem is? Often, there are some things we tend to overlook as causes or consequences of a problem. First, find out what factors affect the root problem. Then, clearly define the problem and formulate possible hypotheses to discover variables that are causing the problem.

At this stage, don’t burden yourself with finding the solution or offering answers. Allot time solely to focusing on finding the problem. Contextualize the situation and keep your mind open to all possible explanations. After all, there is no room for rigidity in the creative process.

You’ll typically supplement discovering the problem with activities such as usability testing, interviews, surveys, and market research. But gathering mounds of information is only scratching the surface. The hard part is segregating, managing, and organizing this information to keep only what is valuable and necessary.

Stage 2: Definition: What Should I Focus On?

Now that you have all the information you need—and possibly more—you’ve essentially reached the KonMari stage of the process. Although you might not be able to actually discard anything—because it could become helpful at a later stage—the Definition stage encourages you to filter and build on the information you’ve gathered.

This is an excellent time to analyze what you need and focus on what you can do with data to find solutions. Remember, during the creative process, solutions could come from anywhere. What matters most is whether the solution is practical and relevant to solving the root problem. This is also the best time eliminate bottlenecks and understand which potentially viable solutions would require further resources to germinate them.

During this stage, you’ll lay out what’s what for all stakeholders—bringing everyone together on the same page. Aligning all stakeholders helps you to assess the situation, consider the what-ifs, and understand what to do.

Stage 3: Development: What Would Be Viable Solutions?

This is the stage when things start to take shape and are no longer just ideas on paper. Using the inputs and ideas you’ve gathered during Stages 1 and 2, this stage is about working on the solution. The spotlight isn’t on the designers anymore. The solution takes on a life of its own. With developers, engineers, and other disciplines from other departments, as well as more stakeholders now involved, the solution thrives with the guidance and instruction of experts in their respective fields. Having their different perspectives come together speeds up problem-solving.

There’s a high probability that you’ll spot any errors at this stage. You should fix them early on to save many heartaches later. Depending on what services companies offer, each of them has a different way of going about developing a solution. Wireframing, storyboarding, and visualization are common ways of developing solutions.

Stage 4: Delivery: What Is the Final Solution?

It’s time for your stakeholders’ signoff. Before launch, each person who worked on the prototype or product should use the solution and try to discover any problems that could contribute to the failure of the product in the marketplace. Assessing compatibility issues and adherence to legal rules, as well as damage testing occur at this stage.

This is also an excellent time to learn how users feel about the product. As a result of what you learn, you might need to go back to the drawing board to make any necessary changes. No product is really the final version. Every product requires changes and updates to make the latest version better than its predecessors.

In wrapping up the four stages of Lean UX, it’s crucial that we briefly consider the divergent and convergent thinking that make up the double diamond process model.

What Are Divergent and Convergent Thinking?

Divergent thinking requires that you avoid setting boundaries or limitations when solving a problem. When all your creative juices are flowing abundantly, you should allow them to flow unchecked. Divergent thinking encourages you to pursue everything that feels nonlinear and flows freely, helps you to explore, and brings a multitude of paths and perspectives to the table. While divergent thinking lets you paint the town red, it can also be the reason for distractions. It could even delay your progress and complicate your path to the solution.

Convergent thinking is more linear. It lets you take a straight line to the answer for a problem—most likely through the process of elimination. It helps you stay focused and narrow the options to find the most fitting solution.

The double diamond process model incorporates divergent and convergent thinking, enabling you to arrive at the right conclusion. Knowing when, how, and to what degree to merge both of the resulting sets of ideas to find a solution requires achieving a delicate balance and is an art. The product of a double diamond process model is a culmination of the best of both worlds. For most UX designers, divergent thinking helps bring out their best, most creative ideas. In collaboration with multidisciplinary teams, they then arrive at convergent thinking and create transformational UX design solutions. 

Chief Creative Officer at Pepper Square

San Francisco, California, USA

Alka JhaOver the last eight years, Alka has perfected the art of software product UX and user-interface (UI) design, working with global brands such as Airbnb, Walmart, Darden, Honeywell, Fujitsu, and many others. Working with leaders in the security, hospitality, retail, and technology industries, she has transformed her clients’ vision and brought them to life using her design skills. Alka believes that design is at the core of devising solutions for every human problem and knows the intricacies of the journey from design to decision-making.  Read More

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