Experience Design at Capital One is uniquely positioned to converge experience quality with the company’s destination, to change banking for good. Designers need to understand the importance of experience quality in Capital One’s future and to have the context for continued learning and practice.

Designers will be exposed to the language around good and bad experiences — from physical products to digital interactions. Empowering designers to understand the starting point for assessing design and how to look at and articulate feedback when delivering critiques across channels and mediums.

With a deep dive into the principles and patterns of Android and iOS design — understanding the difference between the two, designers will understand the fundamentals of designing for native and the baseline expectations for being a mobile designer at Capital One.

Designers will understand what UX/UI tools and standards are required for designing Capital One experiences and feel confident applying them to their work as well as articulating methodology and rationale to their partners and stakeholders.

Basic Information

  • Problem
    The Capital One account servicing apps for consumers has declined in quality over the last several years. Going from the top of JD Power’s top financial applications to well below our competitors. In some cases, experiences are breaking in Android landscape and iPad. Essentially, we’re designing native experiences as we would for mobile web which are two very different animals.

  • Audience
    There are 700+ designers within Experience Design and # that design for EASE (Enterprise Account Servicing Experience) which is accessed via web, iOS and Android. Most of these designers have little to no expertise in designing native experiences.
  • Participants
    • Anyone creating experiences on these two platforms
    • Primary audience are design team members: UX/UI designers, motion designers, content strategists, work stream leads
    • Secondary audiences are design leadership and product partners.
  • Measuring Success
    • Initial development of a “Design Checklist” which pulls from UX best practices, Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines and Google’s Material Design guidelines. This checklist is meant to be used throughout the design process to guide the work. When a feature is ready to move on to the development phase, a team of subject matter experts review the feature against this checklist to ensure measurements are being met.
    • Tracking checklist items that do not pass inspection over time
    • Tracking designers’ class attendance across all lines of businesses
    • Periodic app reviews – Fewer bugs, discrepancies appearing in production
    • Team surveys and class attendance surveys
    • Regular reviews and adjustments to overall design processes
    • Customer feedback via App/Play Store reviews, agent call volume, Twitter complaints


The experience design team at Capital One was entering the state of maturity. The team was growing rapidly. Design, tech and product were scaling up. Designers working on our flagship account servicing application were coming in at various stages of education, experience, expertise and motivation. I could see the varying skill sets showing up in the quality of our iOS and Android app. iPad was suffering from neglect.

For years I had beating my drum on the importance of quality, and understanding the fundamental differences

between iOS, Android and mobile web. At the end of 2018, there was going to be a reorganization of the teams. This reorg would be creating a specific team to address the quality of all of the Capital One digital experiences. I immediately located the senior leadership team member that would lead this effort. By the end of March 2019, I was moving over to lead the UX/UI design quality effort in a horizontal role across the experience design team.

Building a Team

I can’t take credit for building out this team but I was fortunate to be a part of it. Katie G, is a brilliant content creator, storyteller and educator. She helped to pull out everything in my head and then present it in a more meaningful way.

Elly, our DDP (Designer Development Program), was the researcher, data collector, the synthesizer. She tracked attendance across all lines of business and became a SME on dark patterns.


An example of why content design is so critical to successful experiences…

My copy:

This course covers the fundamentals of designing user experiences for iOS and Android at Capital One, with an emphasis on understanding the particular capabilities and constraints of native device hardware.

Student Outcomes:

  • Working knowledge of Android and Material Design Guidelines

  • Working knowledge of iOS, Human Interface Guidelines for handheld and tablet devices

Innovating is easier when we deeply understand the external systems we build on. And let’s face it: Native is a nuanced, ever-changing space. We’ve designed this course to give you that deep understanding–as well as a practical sense of how you can leverage your insights to create and advocate for world-class experiences for Capital One customers. 

Content Designer copy:

Curious about the “why” behind a particular Design Checklist item? Got questions about dark mode? Looking for a safe space to ask “Wait what the heck even IS native, and how’s that different from mobile?”

Join us at WEEKLY NATIVE KNOWLEDGE FEST! This regular classroom + discussion series covers the fundamentals of designing for iOS and Android, with an emphasis on how native hardware, capabilities, and constraints specifically apply to how we do design at Capital One.

WHEN: 30m, Wednesdays

WHO: Anyone involved in creating experiences for EASE. Class is open to all of XD as well as friends of Design in Product and Tech.

OK, BUT DO YOU REALLY MEAN ME? Probably, yes! If you’re a native pro, come to share what you know and mentor others. Newer to native? This is a supportive space to ask all.the.questions and learn a bunch of stuff you may not know you don’t know. Leading a team of UX/UI designers but not formally a UX’er yourself? This is a great environment to develop more baseline knowledge.

WHY: Come for the camaraderie with your fellow designers and partners. Leave with more confidence and expertise to build and advocate for world-class experiences. Innovating is easier when we deeply understand the platforms we’re building on. And it’s just more fun when we get there together.

WHERE: See you on Zoom for now, friends. Snacks and fun backgrounds encouraged.

Our Approach

The Goldilocks Test, Overview

Designing “just right” learning experiences for any audience

Just in case you’re not familiar with the Goldilocks fairytale, here’s the very stripped down version: It’s the story of a little girl who invades the home of a family of bears, and tries on all their stuff: she sits in their chairs, she sleeps in their beds, she eats their porridge … until finally she finds the food or object that isn’t toooo much of this or toooo much of that, and instead suits her “juuuuust right.”

Now if you’re thinking man that sure sounds like a parable about boundaries: YES. But it’s also known for its message about balance, and that’s how we’ll use it.

We’ve been striking that “just right” zone when it comes to comprehension in our class, and we leverage these tools any time we’re explaining a complex topic to a diverse audience. confronted with a LOT of questions about how to make class valuable and ecumenical when we first designed it. There’s new content every week, and literally everyone at Capital One is welcome. As you can imagine, that’s a pretty diverse group of potential students, and the group can and does change week over week. It’s fair to say we were confronted with a LOT of questions about how to make class valuable and ecumenical when we first designed it.

To give you a sense of the diversity, here are a few screenshots from our initial class attendance surveys.

You see we’ve got Product, Tech, and a huge range of designers with wildly different backgrounds and comfort levels with native design. Now one of our top goals when designing this class was to make it as safe and inclusive as possible for as many people as possible. Why? Well, I probably don’t have to tell you things can get pretty competitive. We learned from our research that not everyone in our community feels safe admitting when they don’t know something, or asking questions in front of their peers or leadership.

We wanted people to feel comfortable asking their questions in class, especially when the subject matter gets really technical (and it does). And, because people are busy, we also wanted them to be able to drop in to ANY class, week over week, and quickly get value. So. Huge diversity of people, and we wanted them to feel great about coming. That’s a lot. Where to begin?

Well for the first several weeks into class, as we put out content and got to know our population, we wanted to know about ALL THE THINGS, so we surveyed our learners about ALL the things. But in time we found we needed to focus. So we shortened the class survey and just asked one thing after every session:

How was class this week? Too easy? Too hard? Or just right?

Back then, we had a hunch that nailing this question about comprehension and difficulty was foundational: Without getting this right, it didn’t make sense to tweak anything else. And we’ve been really pleased to see that after almost every single class, no matter who attends that week, our survey result usually looks like this. 

So I’m going tell you our theory of how we consistently get these “just right” results on content and difficulty level. It’s called the Goldilocks test, and it’s a cluster of the storytelling principles we obsess over.

The Goldilocks Test, Implementation

The Goldilocks comprehension test is about 2 things:

  1. First is story: Use storytelling best practices
  2. The second is delivery: Remember that when telling the story, YOUR expertise alone doesn’t guarantee audience comprehension. You also need to be someone people want to listen to. 

Specifically, the Goldilocks test asks us to consider 4 key dimensions of great storytelling. I’ll run through them here.

First question: Have you: CENTERED THE AUDIENCE:

  • No matter how much expertise you have, rule number one in storytelling AND in teaching: your message is NOT. ABOUT. YOU. 


  • Write this on your heart. Never, ever make your audience work to understand you. Have you heard of the usability book by Steve Krug; it’s called Don’t Make Me Think? This is that. Don’t make people work to follow you in a narrative, either. 
  • Be relentless about giving your audience context and making them feel secure in your story. Ask yourself over and over: Why am I telling them this at this moment? 
  • Use deliberate transitions, appropriate metaphors, and repetition. Repetition could feel tedious, but it’s your friend and makes your message more inclusive–it helps anyone to jump in at any point. 
  • Leave a trail of narrative breadcrumbs to follow, and call people’s attention back to them, within the same class and even weeks later. 
  • Purposefully connect the dots, and keep your promises about stuff you said you’d cover, so people don’t get lost on any detours in the middle. 
  • If this sounds like a lot of work for you as the speaker, you’re right. But I’m here with a controversial hot take: If someone doesn’t understand your message, there’s almost ALWAYS room for you to have explained it better. 
  • And I’ll go a step further and suggest that you yourself may even need to UNDERSTAND it better. Extreme? Maybe. But I promise you adopting this POV will make you a better communicator and increase audience comprehension, especially with complex topics.
  • If this sounds like a lot of work for you as the speaker, you’re right. But I’m here with a controversial hot take: If someone doesn’t understand your message, there’s almost ALWAYS room for you to have explained it better. 
  • And I’ll go a step further and suggest that you yourself may even need to UNDERSTAND it better. Extreme? Maybe. But I promise you adopting this POV will make you a better communicator and increase audience comprehension, especially with complex topics.


  • Meaning: Have you designed your message for the LEAST expert among your audience? Now I didn’t say the least expert of people ANYWHERE–the I said the least expert among your audience. Designing for baby bear means taking nothing for granted and designing for your edge cases. You can always up the difficulty later: It’s way easier to do that than the opposite, and starting here will make your message and learning environment more ecumenical. 
  • What does designing for baby bear look like? 
    • Unpacking jargon and avoiding inside jokes. 
    • If you’re about to base a whole lecture on a single concept, take just a minute to explain its context or history, even if you think 7 out of 10 people in the room know it 
    • If you need some perspective, prototype or practice your talk with someone who fits that profile. 

And the last Goldilocks check: Have you BEEN ACCESSIBLE AND HUMAN IN YOUR DELIVERY

  • To aid in comprehension, write and teach how you talk. Anything less than this will come across as inauthentic at best — and at worst, opaque.
  • Being accessible is also about remembering to vary the interaction model often (meaning switch it up from lecture to hands-on learning).

Goldilocks in Action