User experience design is never an end in itself. It’s the way to achieve a goal that matters. Like any other long, intricate and creative process – it needs structure. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting or redesigning an existing product. Defining the steps in the UX process is your path to a successful process. Without good structure, products can be great but have overlooked problems. For example, they may be created perfectly for one target group, completely ignoring other users… or they may solve one big problem while creating a new one – a huge one. In response to this need, the Double Diamond model will come in handy.
Double Diamond model in UX – table of contents:
What is the Double Diamond model?
The Double Diamond model illustrates the design process. It gives structure and enables UX designers to fully picture the needs of users. Additionally, it keeps versatile. You can apply it to organize projects, communicate better at meetings, as well as report progress. The British Design Council created the Double Diamond model in 2005 while trying to visualize the creative processes in the many different fields. The result was a remarkably simple model – two squares set at an angle. The first diamond represents the research phase. The second represents the design phase. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Four phases of the Double Diamond model
Let’s take the two diamonds of the UX process – research and design – and divide them into four phases. The research phase requires space for two main tasks. The first is gathering information, and the second is organizing them. In the design phase, you develop possible solutions and, of course, work out the outcome of the entire design process.
Whether you begin a project from the scratch or redesign an existing one, the UX design process requires a sound foundation. In a real working environment, the process becomes far more intricate than your blueprint – and that’s OK. The role of the Double Diamond model is to guide, not constrain. By design, it leaves behind the old-fashioned, by-the-book as well as linear fashion. You may occasionally have to, repeat some steps or go back to an earlier phase. Also, it comes as no surprise when the final solution doesn’t relate to the starting point. What’s more, if new ideas emerge during development, it’s a sign of sound research and practical user feedback.
- Understanding the problem
- Defining the problem
- Develop solutions
- Choose the ultimate solution
Start from… the very beginning. Take a problem reported by a user, a new idea or an improvement to existing projects. Search well, only the carefully conceived onset will provide a solid foundation. In this phase, collect information as well as keep your focus on your target users. Try to get to know them inside out their preferences, motivations, together with their problems. Combine different methods of user research, ask questions about everything that comes to mind, question every idea, dive in. Aim at acquiring really practical data.
Remember – don’t make assumptions. This phase requires openness and impartiality, even if you want to find a solution as soon as possible.
You’ve collected a considerable amount of data, it’s time to organize it! Sort opinions, remove unnecessary stuff, identify patterns and create hypotheses. You will probably discover that the research has revealed many more hindrances along the way than originally thought. Try to sort them out and see if your original starting point is still valid.
In the previous phase you expanded the scope of data – this time the task is to narrow it down, organize and prioritize. Stay pragmatic and disciplined. Clearly defining the problem will help you in the next phase. A well-defined goal is not an attempt to solve all the problems at once. You have to know which ones are the most crucial. In this phase, you don’t have to get rid of minor discoveries and additional problems – write them down, as they can become an excellent source for future design sessions.
Now you can kick off your search for possible solutions. Let quantity reign over quality right from day one. The time will come for their careful selection. Conduct brainstorming, talk to your team and your users and generate lots of potential solutions. Look at them carefully and choose a few. Now the time has come for testing. Develop simple prototypes or mock-ups and engage your test group to give you feedback as soon as possible. You may feel tempted to go straight to implementing a solution but beware! You may overlook obvious problems if you don’t give yourself the space to think outside the box.
We are at the final stage of the Double Diamond model – the final solution. It’s time to evaluate the feedback from the last phase and test and analyze everything. Remember – the process doesn’t have to remain linear. If necessary, you can repeat stages or even go back a few steps. It’s better to do it now than after the product launch.
Launch the development of prototypes at a higher level of detail. Test them and listen to user feedback. At this point, it may get difficult to keep bias as you probably have your favorite idea that you would like to implement. After long hours of designing followed by testing, you’ve made it to the end. Now just implement the solution. Viola!
The Double Diamond model helps to understand the UX design process with all its difficulties. The visualization of the process helps the team understand what stage it is at and what steps are still ahead. UX design is a complex activity – which is why the Double Diamond model does a great job of guiding the entire process.
You may be interested in our series about UX: The ultimate UX guide. Take a look!