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British Design Councils framework for innovation

User centered design process

In 2005 the British Design Council published a framework for design and innovation processes called the „Double diamond“, which is still an helpful process description. Although it seems linear all phases can and often will contain iterations. Let’s have a look at the 4 phases: Discover, define, develop and Deliver.

Discovery phase

Everything begins with getting a basic grasp at the challenge ahead and the WHY question. The first phase is concerned with discovering the business and user dimension of a given design problem. You can start by interviewing stakeholders, concentrating on the user perspective or conduct competitive research. The goal of this phase is to broaden the view and learn about all aspects of the challenge.

Definition phase

While the initial discovery phase tried to surface all facets of a given design problem, in the definition phase these aspects are narrowed down to a clear problem statement and the „how might we“ question. It’s important not to jump to conclusions and solutions too early but get a firm grasp on the definition of the design problem. This phase is also characterised by the WHAT question.

Development phase

The first phase of the second diamond explores possible solutions. Like for the first diamond in the first phase a broad approach with a wide variety of design solutions is aimed for. In this phase ideation, rough prototyping like pen and paper and first usability tests are undertaken. In this phase a wide variety of solutions should be created and explored.

Delivery phase

The last phase tries to narrow down the initial ideas and research to a deliverable solution. The goal is shipping a solution as early as possible, because most of the user research until shipment is aimed at getting qualitative insights. Which is great for design purposes but needs validation with quantitative data to insure that the solution meets the business goals.

UX/UI, interaction design, product design

Differences between user experience and user interface design

Sadly even in 2021 there seems to be quite a confusion on what user experience design actually is all about. Mostly user experience gets mixed up with user interface design. Although both are close to each other, they aren´t the same. User experience tries to solve complex design questions by analysing user needs and a deep look into available data. User experience design takes the guess-work out of design decisions by adhering to a strictly user centered process. User interface design on the other hands solves front end design problems with a deep understanding of visual design.

User experience design is team work

Modern digital products and services are created, developed and rolled out by teams. Twenty years ago this might have been a one man show, but specialisation and expertise is taking over. This ensures speed and quality. And it can lead to truly great and innovative solutions.

User research is indispensible

Even 15 years after Don Norman defined user experience design: ""User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products." there are still many companies developing digital products without user research.

Without user research user experience design descends into conceptual design, where the designer pretends to be the user. This might work for some products and services, but usually the designers assumptions fall short of the users reality.

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