Double-diamond strategy for Madrid´s public citybus. ??

This is a summary of how we faced a challenge using double design strategy within two weeks at NEOLAND´s bootcamp.

Wait. Double diamond? What´s that?

Double diamond is a 4-phase development process created by the British Design Council in 2005 that belongs to the design thinking discipline.

It was created following the ways designers think unconsciously through a standard process of what we call “designing” (to solve problems diverging and converging).

The 4 phases are:

  1. Mapping out: Plan and define a framework.
  2. Exploring: Empathize (users — environment) and visualize data.
  3. Developing: Brainstorm a lot- but prototype one solution.
  4. Delivering: Test with users, iterate if neccesary and deliver to the client.
Althoug the double diamond design methodology might look like a linear process, it consists of a constant flow of iteration between phases- not only forwards but also backwards..

The problem.

“A study reflects that EMT Madrid (a public transit organization that operates buses in the city of Madrid) is loosing many clients over the last few years and users are more disappointed with the current service.”

The mission.

With this information, the main goal of the project was to:

  • become the most used public transport in the city
  • offer high quality services for every user
  • → enhance the overall experience of traveling by bus


Our target audience was elderly and handicapped people.

Phase 1. Mapping out.

This is what we did in order to discover the needs and opportunities of the project and define a framework to stick with:

  • We first of all started with an individual desk research about the business, the users and their rivals using web pages that could offer information needed before starting with the project.
✔️Desk research helps getting a first contact with the environment you work with.
  • With that information, we sticked post-its to the wall with different questions regarding these three topics:
✔️Research questions help you getting a first approach on the subject for further planning.
At this point you should have the design challenge clear and plan the strategy you are going to use in order to solve the problem.

Phase 2. Empathize.

First we started with a research.

  • We went to the street and asked a couple people how, why and when they use the bus service. This is what we call safari.
  • Afterwards, we made an online questionnaire and also a personal interview with some people at the bus stop. Through that information, we could spot some findings:

Older people use the bus mostly because of habit or close location to the bus station and destination.

Metro is the most used public transit method and users feel safer there.

⚬ Standing in the bus is a real trouble.

Research about users is useful for creating a user persona.

  • After having analyzed the results from the research, the next step was to create a user persona.
A user persona is an archetype that you can use for empathizing with the real end users.
A user persona is helpful for drawing a journey map.
✔︎ With a user journey, you can identify actual problems and discover new opportunities.
A journey map is really simple: it visualizes how a person feels during a usual journey with the current product.

We discovered these findings.


  • suffer a lack of space in the bus
  • do not use the backside of the bus because it is difficult to exit from there
  • are unstable when standing inside the bus (specially the old people)
  • prefer metro because they can sit down or hold on steadily

And these opportunities.

Having a closer look at the findings through the proto-user journey offers a way to discover new opportunities:

What to enhance in the bus:

  • Space
  • Comfort
  • Security
  • Smooth flow of users

And finally… THE INSIGHT.

— We found that our users (based on our proto-persona Amalia) feel uncomfortable when standing inside the bus.

You can extract an insight from looking at the opportunities (based on a proto-persona) that are build upon findings (what you can see that is really happening). This is why we need to empathize with users. To create an hipothesis.

Phase 3. Brainstorm a lot of ideas but prototype only one.

Generating ideas and choosing the “best” one.

Considering the information we generated, we then proceeded to produce as many ideas as possible. In oder to choose the best one, we drew a graph with the different ideas and the factors to enhance as a criteria. The idea that accomplished most of the requirements would be the one that fits the most with our user´s needs-so we should stick with that idea.

✔︎ Deciding on the best idea might feel complicated, but it is as simple as accomplishing user´s needs.

— So, our solution was to transmit a similar allocation experience of the metro on the bus.

?? This was our idea. *

In comparison to the old distribution, we got:

✅ 25 % more seats

✅ 12 seats 10% bigger than regular

✅ more space inbetween.

As you can see, we have also enhanced the points where our proto-user was mostly frustrated. This means that this prototype should be convincing for our target users.

✔️ Amalia travels more comfortable by bus with our proposal.
A proto-journey map is helpful in order to visualize the enhancements that our product has lead to.

Explaining our idea graphically.

By the end of the project, we also drew some sketches illustrating how we imagined the seats on the wheel, as well as the masts conceptualized from the distribution in the “Metro”.

This is how we imagined the seats on the wheel area and the ergonomic masts made for an enhanced comfortable experience for users to grip on.
  • * Disclaimer. We did not research about the legal aspects of the distribution in a bus due to the short amount of time we had to solve this problem.

There has to be stated that the main goal of this project was to solve the problem through a digital solution, but we found that our users don´t need a digital solution, but furthermore a better allocation inside the bus.

Phase 4. Test until a sustainable delivery to the client.

The last step we did in our project was to produce a hypothetic heat map showing where people should theoretically pose themselves during a regular bus trip.

This is a heatmap displaying the problems before and the enhancements after our idea.

If this was going to be a real project with a client, the next step before launching the product should be to test this implementation with users. This could be done in two different ways:

  1. Use a real bus to reallocate the seats and research by watching how people feel with the new allocation. This way you can expect to see realistic evidences, but the prototype could need a considerable investment.
  2. Show the idea to the a group of users at the same time and let them decide where they position themselves based on availability (this could be done either digitally or on paper). I guess the results would not be as reliable as the first one, but it will for sure be less pricey.


What I learned and what you can learn by applying this methodology.

A crucial point that saved a lot of time for this project was to first of all plan the methodologies we needed to implement for solving the problem. I personally enjoyed to extract the data from the research and visualize it for the presentation, as well as interviewing the people. I did also design the inside of the bus.

In the end, this strategy is one of countless design thinking methodologies you can apply for facing a problem. It did help us to start with a clear structure , but something important to remark is that you might be willing to adapt the strategy to your own point of view and use or readapt what suits you the most for every individual project. And that is totally okay, because there is no rule that has to be obeyed. As long as you empathize with the user, apply the strategy that you found is helpful for you!

Sometimes you have a first thought about a problem, but with the help of critical thinking, you find out that users needs differ from that initial idea and you have to pivot your project!

Author: Manuel Giménez

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