Double Diamond

Ehsan Abbasi
9 min readOct 9, 2023


What is a Double Diamond?

The Design Council introduced the Double Diamond in 2004. It presents a framework that allows companies to apply design characteristics to find creative solutions and innovative ideas. It includes four steps: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. We will explore each step in this article later. Many companies adopted the Double Diamond design process, such as Apple, Microsoft, Starbucks, and others. An updated version of the Double Diamond was introduced in 2019, which is agile and visualizes how it can fit inside the organization.

The double diamond is based on the frame innovation approach coined by Kees Dorst, Professor of Design Innovation at the University of Technology. In his approach, the design process can be divided into problem space and solution space. The problem space is when designers explore the problem, including its complex nature, and end with a clear definition of the problem. It is where the majority of the unique design characteristics and values lay, including creativity and uncertainty. The second stage is the solution space, where ideas are generated, visualized, and tested prototypes. At the end of this stage, the final product is created and delivered to the end-user.

The frame innovation is applied to the Double Diamond framework as the first two steps (Discover and Define) present the first stage (problem space), and the third and fourth steps (Develop and Deliver) represent the second stage (solution space). We will explore the four steps of the Double Diamond design process as they remain unchanged between the 2004 and 2019 versions of the framework. Then we will overview the changes that were applied to the 2019 version.

As we explore the Double Diamond design process, we will briefly highlight some of the tools that could be used in each of the four steps.

Double Diamond methods, principles, and Characteristics

The methods bank

We have authored, adapted or adopted a portfolio of design methods which help our clients to identify and address their challenges and achieve successful outcomes. We have structured these methods in three areas to help them use the design process to explore, shape or build:

  • Explore: challenges, needs, and opportunities
  • Shape: prototypes, insights, and visions
  • Build: ideas, plans, and expertise

This is not a linear process as the arrows on the diagram show. Many of the organizations we support learn something more about the underlying problems which can send them back to the beginning. Making and testing very early-stage ideas can be part of discovery. And in an ever-changing and digital world, no idea is ever ‘finished’. We are constantly getting feedback on how products and services are working and iteratively improving them.

The Double Diamond principles

The framework for innovation outlines four core principles for problem-solvers to adopt so that they can work as effectively as possible.

  • Put people first. Start with an understanding of the people using a service, their needs, strengths, and aspirations.
  • Communicate visually and inclusively. Help people gain a shared understanding of the problem and ideas.
  • Collaborate and co-create. Work together and get inspired by what others are doing.
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate. Do this to spot errors early, avoid risk, and build confidence in your ideas.

The Double Diamond Characteristics

The main aim of design thinking is to guide the application of this strategy in real-life scenarios. And through this application, the characteristics of the design thinking mindset bubble out of the practice. It helps people who don’t have this design mindset to achieve its benefits, and by repeating the practice the design thinking practice get improved. These characteristics include:

  • Creative: The design process appreciates ideas and explores them in an inclusive environment. The diversity of ideas presents the primary source of innovative outcomes.
  • User-centered Design: design thinking aims to solve people's problems and address their needs. Therefore, user needs are at the heart of the design process, reflecting the nature of the starting point in any design thinking process, which explores the problem and depends on qualitative data.
  • Uncertainty: Every design task starts with uncertainty. In comparison, other processes such as the stage-gate innovation process jump directly to defining the problem. The design process is inclusive, so the ideation process acknowledges different filtered ideas as the team moves from one step to another.
  • Iterative: At the core of the lean characteristics of the design process is its dependence on iteration and testing more than detailed requirements. Testing and improving prototypes with the involvement of the user helps to build user-centered solutions.
  • Feedback: The user feedback from real-life usage of the product or the service presents the critical element that designers use to improve the product in the future.

When to use the double diamond technique

The Double Diamond is a powerful technique that can improve your design process, and product development process, and provide a framework for practical design methods, such as user diaries, journey mapping, and Persona profiling.

The creative process is usually complicated, which makes it hard to capture it in a simple way, and the Double Diamond can help simplify it and make it appear a little less mysterious.

Double Diamond Process

Design Council’s Double Diamond clearly conveys a design process to designers and non-designers alike. The two diamonds represent a process of exploring an issue more widely or deeply (divergent thinking) and then taking focused action (convergent thinking).

  • Discover. The first diamond helps people understand, rather than simply assume, what the problem is. It involves speaking to and spending time with people who are affected by the issues.
  • Define. The insight gathered from the discovery phase can help you to define the challenge in a different way.
  • Develop. The second diamond encourages people to give different answers to the clearly defined problem, seeking inspiration from elsewhere and co-designing with a range of different people.
  • Deliver. Delivery involves testing out different solutions at a small scale, rejecting those that will not work, and improving the ones that will.

Step 1: Discover

The first stage is the exploration stage, as the team explores problems or the target project, such as exploring the root cause of the problem and applying field research to understand the target challenge. The target of this step is to examine and collect information about the design challenge. The Discover step is divergent, which means that all ideas and information are considered and included. This step appreciates uncertainty as the team doesn’t have a clear idea about the problem, similar to the agile and lean processes. The support of creativity is applied based on the tools used to conduct this step.

Examples of these tools are below:

  • Desk research: The first step in exploring problems is to review the existing resources and publications about the topic to expand our knowledge.
  • Field research: The field research (primary research) has different methods that can be used to explore the problem, such as interviews, focus groups, and observation.
  • Interviews: you can hold an online or face-to-face meeting with the target people involved in the problem investigated. It can be either structured, semi-structured, or unstructured based on restricted with the questions. The semi-structured involves having pre-defined questions, but you can extend those questions based on the discussion with the person for more information.
  • Focus groups: It is similar to interviews, but it is a group discussion rather than one-by-one. It can be cheaper and easier than the interviews. However, it has some drawbacks such as people can be influenced by each other ideas or sometimes shy to share their own.
  • Observation: For me, this is the core of any design practice (or human practice). In this method, you can observe people in their lives, see how they interact with the problem, and document this in notes that will be analyzed later.

Step 2: Define

The Define step is the convergent part of the problem space as it allows ideas to be narrowed into a clear definition of the problem. This definition is the one that will lead the team into the following prototyping and testing steps. This convergent step involves analyzing evidence and filtering ideas to reach a workable clear brief. The tools below are examples of tools that could be used in this step:

  • Root-cause analysis (AKA fishbone analysis and Ishikawa diagram): After collecting sufficient information about the problems, you can analyze the data to understand the actual cause (root problem) to find a sustainable solution. The tool aims to investigate six main areas that can be the root cause of any problem (measurements, materials, personnel, environment, methods, and machines).
  • 5 Whys: Another method for the root cause analysis is the 5 Whys. It simply asks “why” five times until you reach the root cause of the problem. Then, this root cause becomes the main cornerstone of the problem definition.
  • User story: This tool is commonly used in UX research as it reflects the type of the target user, the user’s practice, and his or her final goal. An example of the user story can be:
    As [description of the user], I want to [function] so that [benefit].
  • Affinity diagrams: The affinity diagram is a tool that works similarly to Card Sorting. Furthermore, it allows you to organize the data and prioritize these data based on their importance. Then, you can set your problem description based on the data priority recorded.

Step 3: Develop

Developing is the first step in the solution space. In this step, the team builds prototypes of the solution and tests it involving the end-user in the testing process through a divergent approach, which means that all types of solutions as prototypes. First, the team needs to clearly illustrate the target users by creating a persona for each target user. Persona is a virtual character representing the user and helps the design team consider the user’s characteristics during the prototype and development process. Several tools are used in this process:

  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP): The MVP is a limited version of the product with minimal features that make it workable, so users to test the product. Also, the team can evaluate the product or the service in a real-life scenario. Then, the team uses the feedback to improve the final complete product.
  • Rapid prototyping: Technologies such as 3D printing can create a sample of the product that allows the team to see a virtual example of the product and evaluate the product ideas.
  • Storytelling: Storytelling can be used in both the Discover and the Develop steps. The storytelling allows the team to explore the prototypes and share their experience as a story.
  • Consumer Journey Mapping: Like the previous usage of consumer journey mapping, the team can use it to test the service and evaluate it.

Step 4: Deliver

The relationship between the designer and the product doesn’t end here. Once the product is delivered, the team starts to collect user feedback and expertise evaluation. These comments and feedback are used to improve the future versions of the product. The Deliver is a conversion step where ideas are narrowed to one final product. Examples of the tools that could be used in this step include:

  • Surveys: They are the most common tool designers, and marketers use to get feedback through rating or simple questionnaires to collect details about the users’ comments and opinions about the product.
  • Think Aloud: In this tool, the consumer uses the product while describing the experience loudly. The designers take notes or recording of the consumer experience.
  • Shadowing: Another testing tool is where one design team follows the user (as a shadow) and takes notes as the user uses the product.

How to Apply the Double Diamond Design Thinking Process?

  • Discover

Explore the problem with your team.
Tools: Mind maps, multi-perspective problem framing (MPPF), brainstorming and reversed brainstorming, desk research, field research (interviews, focus groups, and observations), and consumer journey mapping.

  • Define

Clearly describe the problem that needs to be addressed.
Tools: Root-cause analysis, 5 whys, user story, affinity diagrams

  • Develop

Create the solution prototype, test, and iterate to improve the prototype.
Tools: Minimum viable product, rapid prototyping, storytelling, and consumer journey mapping

  • Delivery

Deliver the final product to the consumer and get feedback that will be used to improve the product in the future.
Tools: Surveys, think aloud and shadowing



Ehsan Abbasi

Technical Product Manager with 4+ years experience applying data-driven mindset to build successful solutions for startups and enterprises.