Designers across disciplines share strikingly similar approaches to the creative process, which we’ve mapped out as ‘the Double Diamond’.  

Every design specialism has a different approach and ways of working, but there are some commonalities to the creative process. At the Design Council we like to illustrate this with our Double Diamond model.

Divided into four distinct phases – Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver – the Double Diamond is a simple visual map of the design process.

In all creative processes a number of possible ideas are created (‘divergent thinking’) before refining and narrowing down to the best idea (‘convergent thinking’), and this can be represented by a diamond shape. But the Double Diamond indicates that this happens twice – once to confirm the problem definition and once to create the solution. One of the greatest mistakes is to omit the left-hand diamond and end up solving the wrong problem.

In order to discover which ideas are best, the creative process is iterative. This means that ideas are developed, tested and refined a number of times, with weak ideas dropped in the process. This cycle is an essential part of good design.

Practical design methods – like user diaries, journey mapping and character profiles – move a project through the four phases of the Double Diamond. 

Discover – The first quarter of the Double Diamond model covers the start of the project. Designers try to look at the world in a fresh way, notice new things and gather insights.

Define – The second quarter represents the definition stage, in which designers try to make sense of all the possibilities identified in the Discover phase. Which matters most? Which should we act on first? What is feasible? The goal here is to develop a clear creative brief that frames the fundamental design challenge.

Develop – The third quarter marks a period of development where solutions or concepts are created, prototyped, tested and iterated. This process of trial and error helps designers to improve and refine their ideas.

Delivery – The final quarter of the double diamond model is the delivery stage, where the resulting project (a product, service or environment, for example) is finalised, produced and launched.

The creative process is complicated, making it difficult to capture simply, but this sort of explanation can at least help make it appear a little less mysterious.

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