Double Diamond Design and Stanford Design Thinking

Design thinking is a methodology of how design works, the first stage of it is discover, which means discovering problems and challenges that exist, and then they would be defined on the second stage. And the next step is to discover the defined problem again to see what potential solutions are there to solve the problem. Last but not least is to define the solutions and pick out the best one and deliver it to the one who asks for it.

In the research of design thinking, I found another design thinking system which is a little bit different from the one that we were taught in the class, it is Design Thinking from Stanford D.School. This Design Thinking system has five steps, which are empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. It focuses more on the visual thinking than the double diamond design system, and every project that is produced basing on Design Thinking must think about its own social influence.

Empathize in Design Thinking asks designers to observe, engage and immerse. Observe is to view users and their behaviour in the context of their life, and understand what users can do, what they want to do, why they want to do that and the chain effects it might bring. Engage is to interact with the interview users as if you are not the designers. And immerse is to experience what the users experiences. Meaning to empathize is to uncover needs that people have which they may or may not be aware of, identify right users to design for and discover the emotions that guide behaviours.

The next step, define, is a mode of “focus”, which has the same function as the defining part in the double diamond design. The define mode is to capture the hearts and minds of people you meet, define your own point of view and let other people clearly know what you want to achieve with the solutions you come out from this part.

Then the designers should to the ideate part, which is the same as the develop part in the double diamond design. Designers need to brainstorm as many solutions as possible and increase the innovation potential of the solution set. The theme of this part is “Go for Volume” and “Go for Variety”.

And then the designer go to the prototype part, which is again quite similar to the second define part in the double diamond design. Prototyping in Design Thinking is getting ideas and explorations out of designers and into the physical world. Users could experience and interact with prototypes, and the designers could receive useful interaction information from the process and therefore get deeper empathy and shape better solutions.

The last step is test. Designers need to review designs through testing the prototype, sometimes designers need to refine the decided point of view after testing.

All in all, double diamond design is quite similar to Stanford Design Thinking system, they both ask designers to think in users’ position, develop designs and define designs more than once. But Stanford Design Thinking asks users to develop a prototype to test before really define the final solution.


Peng, Y.H. (2014) Zhihu. Available at: (Accessed: 03 December 2016).

Institute of Design at Stanford (2016) DESIGN THINKING. Available at: (Accessed: 3 December 2016).

Naiman, L. (2016) Creativity at Work. Available at: (Accessed: 3 December 2016).

Brown, T. (2016) Design Thinking. Available at: (Accessed: 3 December 2016).


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