Double Diamond Diagram in UX Design

Arash Ranjbaran Qadikolaei
5 min readJan 28, 2023

Why the Double Diamond Diagram is the Most Precious Diagram in UX Design and Unearthing its Potential Can Provide Stakeholders and Team Members with Exponential Benefits

User experience design is not a destination, but rather an ongoing journey that involves collaboration among stakeholders, researchers, designers, developers, and other team members. In order to successfully execute a project, whether it be a new development or a redesign, it is essential to establish a clear and consistent value structure as a guide throughout the process.

Defining key milestones along the timeline of a UX project helps to ensure that all team members are aware of the project’s progress and can work in harmony towards a common goal. Without a defined value structure and clear milestones, stakeholders and team members may lack clarity on the project’s status and direction.

Step 1: What Are the Principles of the Double Diamond?

The Double Diamond is a process model created in 2005 by the British Design Council. (1) Its structure is simple, two squares at an angle. The first diamond represents the research phase, the second the design phase.

Fig 1: Double Diamond basics

Fig 1. The structure of the Double Diamond.

Step 2: How Are Phase 1 and Phase 2 Initiated?

For a research phase to get started, we need a catalyst, a spark to ignite the thinking process. Often, this spark is encapsulated in the initial problem statement: identifying our persona, problem and goal. The problem statement might be expressed as “How might we help the user accomplish a specific action by providing the support needed.” If a problem statement cannot be identified, we start with an assumption, or a hypothesis. These entry points — problem statement, hypothesis — will define what the research process will look like. (We’ll talk about that in Step 3.)

Fig 2: Research entry points

Fig 2. Defining the entry point for research.

Step 3: Research that Leads from Discovery to Synthesis

Once a problem statement is established, the research and discovery phase can begin. This is an important step in gaining a deep understanding of the users and their needs. The focus during this phase is on gathering as much data as possible through various methods, such as listening to user insights and stories and documenting the findings. This is a crucial stage where we gather and embrace the complexity of the problem.

After thorough research is conducted, it is time to begin defining the data. This is a crucial step in the process where we use various tools to aggregate and validate the research data. Through affinity mapping and persona definition, themes, patterns, and trends will emerge, which may lead to a revised problem statement. This revision is crucial as it sets the stage for the next phase of design.

Fig 3: Understanding research tools

Fig 3: Defining the tools for conducting the discovery and defining parts of research.

Step 4: From Revised Problem Statement to Entering the Design Phase

With a well-defined problem statement, the design process can begin. The focus is on designing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that addresses the identified needs of the users. The initial phase is a divergent design phase, where multiple options are generated through usability testing and design studio sessions. Effective tools such as feature prioritization and MoSCoW mapping are employed to ensure a balanced solution that does not over-emphasize features.

Mid-fi wireframes and prototyping are created as the design evolves, providing a work-in-progress that can be tested for usability. Early feedback is incorporated through iterative testing, allowing for necessary adjustments to be made during the design process. Regular check-ins with the development team are important to ensure the design aligns with the technical capabilities.

As the design process progresses, it shifts into a convergent mode, with the focus on creating a deliverable MVP. The development team is provided with important documents such as a spec doc, brand guide, and asset library to assist in the implementation of the MVP. The final output is focused on delivering a Minimum Viable Product that meets the needs of the users.

Fig 4: Understanding design tools

Fig 4: Defining the design phase.

* MoSCoW=Must Have/Should Have/Could Have/Won’t Have, a feature analysis tool to avoid featuritis.

**Featuritis is defined in Wikipedia as an excessive ongoing expansion or addition of new features in a product, especially in computer software and consumer and business electronics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feature_creep

†FPM=Feature Prioritization Map, a tool to prioritize features based on research.

In Summary: The Double Diamond Functions as a Product Design System Matrix that Focuses the Team Throughout the Product Design Cycle

Throughout the entire Double Diamond project phase, we need to embrace complexity while looking for the non-obvious leverage points. This might include expanding upon research during a divergent phase, before entering a converging synthesis phase. Once the research/synthesis phase 1 is completed, we then again expand into our divergent design phase 2 during which we conduct as many usability tests as possible, before entering the convergent, product-defining stretch for MVP hand-off.

The Double Diamond matrix serves as model to anchor the product design cycle until an MVP for handoff can be achieved.

The Double Diamond has been tested over and over again and remains robust and reliable even as MVP demands are growing and expanding.

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