What I learnt this week: The Double Diamond Framework VS Google Design Sprint
A weekly reflection of what I have learnt this week as a Digital Product Designer
I’ve jumped back into active learning with UX Academy London. In this session, our tutor ran through what we would be doing over the sessions and explained the kind of design process we would use. The tutor told us that during our beginner's course we would have used the Google Sprint approach, but this time we would be using the Double Diamond instead. Due to the short period of time of each session — 2 and half hours — We rapidly moved on to the next section leaving me with questions about why we wouldn’t use the famous Google Sprint approach and why would we use this relatively unknown to me Double Diamond framework instead.
As someone who loves to learn and gain more information I took on the challenge to do the research, understand the pro’s and con’s of each framework and share it here with the hope that this may help someone else in future.
What is the Double Diamond design process?
Launched in 2004, the Double Diamond is a world-famous design framework created by the Design Council. This framework was created to help people tackle big problems that include areas such as social, economic and environmental. Though the Double Diamond is used to solve big problems, the process is relatively simple: Explore the problem at a wide level then focus in on an area, then focus on the idea at a broad level then hone in on a solution.
How do you use the Double Diamond framework
In the first diamond, we focus on the problem and try to understand as much as we can about the context of the problem, whether this is the right problem. When using this framework this normally involves interviewing stakeholders and conducting user research. After enough insight is gained we move on to defining the challenge, for example after doing our research we might find out that the initial problem set by our client is, in fact, the wrong problem to be focusing on.
In the second diamond, we focus on creating actual designs or solutions. During this phase, it’s really important to start with a broad range of solutions, developing as many relevant possible ideas as we can. Towards the end of the diamond, we then focus on testing out our ideas this helps us continually narrow down our ideas until we come to a solution which we want to implement.
Naturally, this is a brief summary of the framework so if you want to get a deeper understanding make sure you take a look at the Design Councils explanation.
Pro’s of using the Double Diamond process
- It’s a very simple framework, especially when looking at the visualisation — if you needed to explain to clients or your boss what your design process was it would be easy to do so with this method.
- It puts users first. With this framework, you’re speaking with the users straight away ensuring that you’re focusing on their actual needs and problems.
- Great for if you are working with a client who doesn’t quite know what their problem is as the first diamond allows you to do a lot of exploration.
Con’s of using the Double Diamond process
- If you have a client who specifically wants to work with a small problem such as help users complete a sign-up form, this method probably will be a bit overkill.
- The Design Council mention it on their website to iterate multiple times however if you’re basing your method just from the graphic alone it’s not very clear.
- The phases are very distinct — this could also be a pro depending on how you look at it. The problem and the solution phases have no cross over suggesting that the research or the understanding stops when you move into the solution phase.
What is the Google Sprint process
Personally I feel like the Google Sprint framework is more widely known than the double diamond but this is based on my own experience of the Design industry. If you’re unfamiliar with this framework, like the Double Diamond, this process focuses on solving problems, usually business ones through design thinking.
There are plenty of variants of the Design Sprint, but this one, in particular, was created by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz for Google Ventures. It’s also by no coincidence that this design process has been incredibly popular since the book release and the strong connection with the Google brand.
How do you use the Google Sprint framework
The key marketing point for the Google Sprint is that it is a time-sensitive method. The idea is that you and your team are confined to a single space for 5 days where you will go through the motions of understanding the business, meeting experts in the topic, co-creating solutions and finally prototyping and testing these solutions to see whether they are worth pursuing at greater detail.
Pro’s of using the Google Sprint process
- Fast-paced, no more spending weeks or months thinking about a design problem. This method basically puts a false deadline on the project that then creates a sense of urgency.
- Getting all the stakeholders in the room means that it feels like a collaborative process. Everyone's ideas are considered valid and are listened to. This should hopefully mean less push back at the end of the week.
- You have something to show in 5 days — which is amazing. When working on a project without this framework it’s easy to spend too long researching or too long tweaking wireframes. With this method, the tight deadlines mean you haven’t got time for overthinking the minor details.
Con’s of using the Google Sprint process
- Once again this could be a pro statement depending on how you look at it — But users are introduced at the end of the process for testing rather than being included from the beginning of the process.
- If you’ve read the Google Sprint book, you’ll be aware that stakeholders are basically involved in the entire 5 days of the project, though this is great, it doesn’t feel very realistic. If you can get those people in the room it’s great, but relying on them to be available for a full 5 days probably isn’t the best idea.
- The framework is rigid, meaning that there is no room to lean into a different path during the 5 days as you’ve already set out what you need to do during this period. So if you have an amazing idea on day 1, you have to wait until day 3 before you can start working on it.
Which one should I use?
Well, it depends.
As all tools available to us as designers, you need the right tool for the right job, therefore the double diamond approach may work for some projects whereas the Google Sprint may work for another. There won’t ever be the perfect framework that will work for every client and every problem and that’s one of the most important things to remember when working as a product designer.
Our clients or design projects may see similar problems, but just like we hone our designs to our user needs we need to make sure that our frameworks are tweaked and tailored to our clients business or user problems so that we can solve the right problem and not get caught up in productive procrastination where we are going through the motions of a framework but aren’t getting anything useful from it.
Have you used the both of these methods before? How did you find each of process’? Which framework do you prefer? Let me know!
If you want get in touch you can find me on Twitter as @LizHamburger