The design process

Eleven lessons: managing design in eleven global companies

LEGO is just one leading company that has a formalised design process

Different designers manage the process of design in different ways. But when we studied the design process in eleven leading companies, we found striking similarities and shared approaches among the designers we talked to. In this section we show one way of mapping the design process, and give more detail on the key activities in each of the process's four stages

The 'double diamond' design process model

The double diamond diagram was developed through in-house research at the Design Council in 2005 as a simple graphical way of describing the design process

The double diamond model of the design process is divided into four stages: Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver

Divided into four distinct phases, DiscoverDefineDevelop and Deliver, it maps the divergent and convergent stages of the design process, showing the different modes of thinking that designers use.

The first quarter of the double diamond model marks the start of the project. This begins with an initial idea or inspiration, often sourced from a discovery phase in which user needs are identified. These include:

The second quarter of the double diamond model represents the definition stage, in which interpretation and alignment of these needs to business objectives is achieved. Key activities during the Define stage are:

The third quarter marks a period of development where design-led solutions are developed, iterated and tested within the company. Key activities and objectives during the Develop stage are:

The final quarter of the double diamond model represents the delivery stage, where the resulting product or service is finalised and launched in the relevant market. The key activities and objectives during this stage are:

Next steps
See how the design process works in step by step, starting with the Discover phase

The design process in eleven global companies

To find out about the design process in leading global companies the Design Council undertook its most in-depth study ever.

Researchers visited the design departments of eleven companies (Alessi, BSkyB, BT, LEGO, Microsoft, Sony, Starbucks, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Whirlpool, Xerox and Yahoo!) all world-leaders in their fields and all with a public commitment to the use of design to improve their brand strength and product and service offerings.

While the companies we spoke to had very different ways of managing their design processes, and though the terminology they use may differ from that of the double diamond model, there are some core stages within a design process that are common across the participating companies.

In more depth
The double diamond model is not the only model of the design process. You can find out more about the way other academics and design researchers define and measure design processes by downloading a PDF version (464KB) of our detailed Desk Research Report

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