What is the Double Diamond design process? UX Question #92

Watch on YouTube

YouTube player

Listen to the podcast

Read the transcript

Westin from Brooklyn, NY asks: What is the Double Diamond design process?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Westin. This is UX Question number 92 and I am Ben Judy.

What is the Double Diamond design process? Well, it’s perhaps the most common model for user-centered, digital product design.

It consists of four key phases: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. Now imagine these represented in two diamond shapes, where Discover is the left half of the first diamond and the right half is Define. So it broadens with the Discover phase and narrows down with the Define phase .

Then you have the second diamond, the first half of which is Develop—you’re going broad again, and then you Deliver—that’s the right half that narrows down to the finish.

Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver. (You’ll see some slight variation of these words, such as Discover, Define, Design, Deliver—but it’s always for D’s.)

And it’s that pattern divergence and convergence—going broad, then going narrow. That’s the heart and soul of the Double Diamond. The whole product team in sync, exploring options and expanding possibilities, then narrowing down to solution decisions. First with strategy, then with a working product.

It’s a very linear process. Left to right. You start with Discovery and when you’re done with that, you hit an inflection point and you move on to the next phase. You can iterate and repeat steps, but then I would suggest you’re not really playing with diamonds anymore, you’re doing loops or circles. But that’s the abstract nature of these processes.

Let’s talk pros and cons.

In my experience, the Double Diamond model is easy to teach and simple to understand. It’s like training wheels. That’s why a lot of UX bootcamps and certificate programs teach it. It can help align expectations for what’s next in a human-centered design process.

In the Cons column: as I said, it’s linear. It does not map to Agile software development approaches. It does not play nicely with Scrum methodology. It suggests that you do user research and building empathy with users as just one step in a sequential process, not continuously, which I think is foolish.

So it has strengths and weaknesses. And, apparently, it has staying power. I remember first learning about it in the mid-2000’s as it was becoming popular and it hasn’t gone away, even as UX practice has evolved.

If you want a simple, albeit oversimplified, way of explaining how UX work is done, you could do worse than the Double Diamond. Just don’t dogmatically adhere to it. No project should ever go exactly the way the model depicts.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: How can I prepare for a UX job interview?

Referenced in this episode:

Support UX Questions

Visit us on Patreon and check out the great perks at each level of support!

Become a sponsor

You can advertise your products or services—our promote yourself as a UX professional—by sponsoring episodes of UX Questions! See the Sponsor page for details.

Hire Ben Judy

Ben is available for consulting engagements as a workshop facilitator, mentor, design coach, and more! See the Ben page for details.