What is the Double Diamond Design Process?

For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), transforming an initial idea into a successful product is a critical challenge.

Efficiency in the design process is not just advantageous—it’s essential for survival and growth in competitive markets.

The Double Diamond isn’t just a fancy name – it’s a visual representation of a comprehensive design process that emphasizes understanding both the problem and the solution.

By systematically expanding the exploration of ideas and then honing in on the most viable solutions, this process helps ensure that every project step is both deliberate and aligned with strategic business goals. 

The beauty of the Double Diamond is that it’s adaptable across different design disciplines, whether you’re focusing on UX design, service design, or even product management.

In this blog, we’ll explore Double Diamond in detail, unpacking its core principles and how you can leverage it to build user-centric products that drive growth for your SME.

Origins and Evolution of the Double Diamond

The Double Diamond design process wasn’t conjured out of thin air; it has a rich history, rooted in the divergence-convergence model developed by Béla H. Bánáthy. 

This concept was later honed into what we now recognize as the Double Diamond by the British Design Council in 2003. Since then, it has been further refined by thought leaders across industries, becoming a staple in mainstream design methodology.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking in Design

With the rich historical backdrop and evolution of the Double Diamond Design Process, it’s clear why this method stands as a pillar in the design community. 

But understanding its structure is just the beginning. Let’s delve into the core mechanisms that drive this process—divergent and convergent thinking. 

These two modes of thought form the heartbeat of the Double Diamond, facilitating a dynamic that oscillates between expansive creativity and focused decision-making.

Characteristics of Divergent Thinking

Divergent thinking is all about generating creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. During this phase, the goal is not to find one right answer but to come up with a multitude of ideas and approaches. This process is characterized by its open-ended and exploratory nature, often involving brainstorming sessions, sketching, and scenario mapping.

Open-mindednessEncourages exploration beyond traditional boundaries.
Non-linear thinkingFollows a path that isn’t straightforward or predictable.
Idea generationProduces a wide range of possibilities and ideas.

Characteristics of Convergent Thinking

Convergent thinking is the process of taking the myriad ideas generated during the divergent phase and narrowing them down to the best, most feasible one. This involves critical thinking, decision-making, and prioritization. Key characteristics include focusing, analyzing, and synthesizing information to make logical conclusions.

AnalyticalAssesses ideas and determines their feasibility.
Decision-makingChooses between options based on set criteria.
Problem-solvingFocuses on deriving the most effective solution.

The Role of the Groan Zone

The ‘groan zone’ is a term used to describe the challenging transition between divergent and convergent thinking. It’s often where team discussions can become tense, as the freedom of idea generation meets the reality of decision-making. Managing this phase effectively involves clear communication, patience, and often, facilitation skills to ensure the team remains focused and positive.

Read: Strategies and Tactics to Scale Your Business

The Four Phases of the Double Diamond

Now that we’ve defined the essential roles of divergent and convergent thinking within the design process, it’s crucial to see how these modes translate into tangible steps. 

The Double Diamond is structured into four distinct phases: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. Each phase builds on the insights and decisions of the previous, ensuring a thorough and effective design process. 

Let’s walk through each of these phases to see how they collectively embody a complete journey from initial concept to final product.


The first phase is Discover, which involves conducting thorough research to understand the problem space fully. This could include market research, user interviews, and persona development. 

Codewave’s approach to UX-UI design research in this phase ensures that we uncover genuine user needs and business opportunities, setting a solid foundation for design.


Next is Define, where insights gathered are synthesized to articulate the problem clearly. This definition guides the entire project and ensures that all stakeholders have a unified understanding of the objectives.


During the Develop phase, solution concepts are generated and refined. This is the stage where creative ideation takes place, focusing on crafting innovative and user-centric solutions. It’s a critical phase where the broad ideas formed during the Discover and Define phases begin to take shape into actionable plans. 

At Codewave, our design team leverages this phase to excel in creating solutions that resonate deeply with target audiences. Our approach integrates advanced design thinking techniques with cutting-edge technology to develop products that are not only innovative but also highly tailored to meet specific market demands.


Finally, the Deliver phase involves finalizing and implementing the solution. This includes developing high-fidelity prototypes and ensuring the design is scalable and aligned with business goals.

Implementing the Double Diamond in Real-World Projects

Understanding the four phases of the Double Diamond provides a clear blueprint for navigating the design process. However, theory often meets reality with its own set of challenges. 

This section of our discussion focuses on applying the Double Diamond in real-world projects. This involves adapting the idealized processes to fit the messy, unpredictable nature of actual projects where constraints and unexpected twists are part of the journey.

1. Challenges of aligning the ideal process with project realities

Implementing the Double Diamond isn’t always straightforward. Real-world projects often face constraints such as budget limits, time restrictions, and stakeholder disagreements. These challenges can distort the ideal process, making it difficult to adhere strictly to the phases of the Double Diamond.

2. Strategies for maintaining the integrity of the design process amidst constraints

In the dynamic realm of design, maintaining the integrity of the process amidst various constraints is crucial for success. Whether dealing with budget limitations, tight deadlines, or changing requirements, employing effective strategies can help keep your project on track. 

Below is a table summarizing key strategies that ensure the design process remains robust and adaptable, allowing for creativity and precision to flourish even under pressure.

Prioritization of FeaturesUse the MoSCoW method to categorize features into Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have. This helps focus resources on essential features, managing scope effectively.
Iterative DesignImplement an iterative approach that allows for continuous testing and refinement. This method helps identify and address issues early, ensuring the design remains on track.
Flexible Resource ManagementMaintain flexibility in resource allocation to adapt to changing project demands. This can involve using a mix of in-house and freelance talent or cross-training team members.
Risk ManagementDevelop a proactive risk management plan that includes identifying potential risks early and strategizing mitigation efforts. Regular risk assessments keep the project aligned and prepared for uncertainties.
Clear Communication ChannelsEnsure open and transparent communication among all team members and stakeholders. Regular updates and structured feedback loops are essential for maintaining alignment and clarity.
Utilizing TechnologyUse advanced project management and design tools to enhance collaboration and efficiency. Tools like digital whiteboards and prototype software can streamline workflows.
Modular DesignAdopt a modular approach to design, allowing different components to be developed in parallel and integrated later. This strategy enhances flexibility and efficiency in the design process.

Read: The Importance of Discoverability in UX Design

The Reverse Double Diamond

The Reverse Double Diamond is a variation that starts with a broad testing of potential solutions before defining the problem in detail. This approach is particularly useful in situations where the problem is not well-defined, or where innovative solutions are required to redefine the problem space itself.

Comparing the Double Diamond with Design Thinking

As we consider the practical applications and adaptations necessary for the Double Diamond in real-world scenarios, it’s also useful to position this model in the broader landscape of design methodologies. 

Next, we compare the Double Diamond to another popular approach: Design Thinking. 

Both frameworks are influential in the design world but serve different purposes and are based on different principles. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right approach for your projects or, perhaps, inspire you to integrate elements from both to create a tailored strategy that best fits your needs.

1. Distinguishing between the Double Diamond and Design Thinking methodologies

While both methodologies emphasize research, ideation, and implementation, the Double Diamond is more structured, with clear demarcation between phases. 

Design Thinking, conversely, often involves a more fluid and iterative approach, with frequent loops back to previous stages.

Read: The UX Design Process: The Ultimate 10-Step Guide

2. Critique of the commercialization of Design Thinking versus the grassroots nature of the Double Diamond

Design Thinking has faced criticism for becoming too commercialized and detached from its roots. The Double Diamond, on the other hand, maintains a more grassroots approach, focusing on practical and effective design principles that can be applied across various contexts.

Practical Tips for Applying the Double Diamond

Having compared the Double Diamond with Design Thinking, it’s evident that each methodology has its unique strengths and applications. With a deeper understanding of where the Double Diamond excels, let’s pivot to practical guidance on how you can apply this framework effectively within your own projects.

  1. Adapting the model to fit specific project needs

It’s essential to tailor the Double Diamond process to fit the unique challenges and goals of each project. This might involve adjusting the duration of phases, the techniques used, or even the stakeholders involved.

  1. The importance of high-quality prototypes in the develop and deliver phases

Prototyping is crucial in both the Develop and Deliver phases. High-quality prototypes help to visualize solutions, test functionality, and gather user feedback, which are essential for refining the final product.

  1. Encouragement for continuous learning and improvement within the design process

A key to success with the Double Diamond is fostering an environment of continuous learning and improvement. Regular reviews and retrospectives can help teams understand what works and what doesn’t, promoting ongoing development in design capabilities.


The Double Diamond offers a powerful and adaptable framework for navigating the design process. By understanding its core principles and implementing them strategically, you can ensure your SME develops user-centric products that drive growth and success. 

Remember, the Double Diamond is a guide, not a rigid rulebook. Embrace its flexibility and adapt it to your project’s specific needs.

Even if you don’t have a dedicated design team in-house, the Double Diamond’s core principles can be applied to any design challenge you face within your SME.  

For more in-depth guidance and expert execution of the design process, consider partnering with a design-led development firm like Codewave.  

Our team of UX/UI designers, alongside broader service offerings in product development and emerging technologies, can help you translate your ideas into groundbreaking products that resonate with your target audience.

Is your SME ready to embrace the power of design thinking? Contact us today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you transform your ideas into successful products.

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