Customer connections

Company size

  • 52,000


  • McLean, VA


  • Financial services

When you think of innovation and good design, financial services companies aren’t usually the first thing to come to mind. But at Capital One, an emphasis on user research makes sure that their products are serving the needs of their customers. They have dedicated research labs for observing customers in person, in context. Capital One Labs allows a subset of design and development teams to “operate like a start-up accelerator within the broader company.”

We spoke with Ryan Page, Head of Design – Senior Director, Card Partnerships at Capital One to see how this research and testing driven approach helps the company bring best-in-class products to market.

Capital One+

Many of the facilities we’ve built have actual labs in them. A lot of the research is self-conducted, in house, observing users.

Ryan Page

Head of Design, Card Partnerships, Capital One

In their Labs teams, Capital One has a high designer/developer ratio, which allows them to quickly explore and test prototypes. They also have a VP Head of Design who reports into the C-level, so the design teams have a seat at the table for executive-level decisions. Onboarding for all employees includes a design component.

The corporate onboarding actually has a design component to it now…essentially design thinking as a methodology is covered on Day 1.

Ryan Page

Head of Design, Card Partnerships, Capital One


An Agile framework

The team works within an Agile framework, and starts with a prioritization/orientation session to understand where the project fits in the backlog.

We're probably a little light in terms of 'this is a formal kickoff thing' because teams continue to work together across functions.

Ryan Page

Head of Design, Card Partnerships, Capital One

Sprints and epics

Sometimes they start with Sprint and PI (Planning Increment) planning, which includes anywhere from 4-6 multi-sprints, and then move into epic/story feature definition, which includes research and knowledge gathering.

Foundational research

On some projects, the team does more open-ended foundational research, which includes data analytics and quantitative research, as well as qualitative feedback coming in from tools like Tealeaf. They usually have representation from the Product and Dev teams in the research stage.

Prototyping and feedback

Sketches and rough prototypes come next, followed by a Lab study. This gives the teams a chance to get ideas in front of users and design iteratively. The number of rounds before going into production depends on how much time there is before release, and it’s almost never more than 3 rounds before something is shipped.


A Trifecta Review—including Design, Dev, and Product teams—takes place in parallel to the Revise stage, but sometimes teams need to send work to Legal and Compliance before Production, depending on the product.

Ship it!

After review, they ship the product or feature and monitor it in-progress. Sometimes the MVP is the product for a while, and sometimes they go right back in and iterate.

Org design

A centralized team structure keeps all designers in the same team in a shared space. Some refer to this as the “agency model” or a “center of excellence” as other teams come to the centralized design team for their services—much like the way a client would approach an agency. Centralized design teams work in a shared studio space where work can be posted and discussed regularly, which helps designers grow in their craft.

Supporting research

Capital One not only uses trained UX researchers extensively, but backs them up with Design Strategists (who facilitate interactions with non-designers) and research support (who recruit users).

LOB and Core

Capital One structures their design team across Line of Business (LOB) specific units, and a Core Design team that implements things like Conversation Design and Emerging Practices across the company.


  • Frequent feedback from peers fosters growth and engagement.
  • Easier to create a unified user experience across products and platforms.
  • Centralized teams can create a grand vision for a product, and build a design culture.


  • Design can be opaque and less collaborative across functions when it’s centralized.
  • Designers may leave important collaborators like engineers out of the ideation process in this structure, which can create political conflict.
  • Design teams are often disconnected from technical requirements when they’re isolated from engineers.
In addition to Core Design, we have a number of teams that are Line of Business (LOB) specific: Financial Services, Consumer Bank, Commercial Bank, Small Business, Enterprise…

Ryan Page

Head of Design, Card Partnerships, Capital One

  • As a Senior Director, Ryan Page reports to the VP, Head of Design for Card (one of Capital One's largest business units). This VP reports directly into the head of design.
  • Capital One has pure researchers as well as research support (though they are not historically trained as researchers, but rather are coordinators to help recruit users for their Labs).
  • The Design Strategist role is oriented toward early-stage, exploratory design activities as well as the facilitation of design with non-designers.
  • The Core Design team has Conversation Design, Emerging Practices (including Service Designers, Creative Technologists, etc.) to help implement these core functions well within other functions (which includes the One Design System).

Tool stack

How Capital One uses InVision

  • User testing, both in person and remote
  • During legal/compliance review
  • Prototyping and communications around design concepts
There is no mandate for the tool stack...we use a lot of user research and testing tools like, UserZoom, and SurveyMonkey. We also use Tealeaf, Usabilia, and other custom tools to capture feedback.

Ryan Page

Head of Design, Card Partnerships, Capital One

We’re heavy, heavy InVision users…it’s become the standard.

Ryan Page

Head of Design, Card Partnerships, Capital One

Transform your team with InVision. Here’s how.