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Design

How Nationwide designs for cooperation and partnerships

4 min read
Will Fanguy  •  Apr 25, 2018
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For an insurance company that’s been around since the 1920s, it would be easy for Nationwide to fall into the habit of simply maintaining the status quo. They could simply do things the way they’d always done them: keep making great commercials with that catchy jingle, and let the chips fall where they may.

But instead, they’ve made an effort to transform design behind the scenes in an effort to keep up with the changing times. Like many institutions with a long history, Nationwide has faced some challenges as customers began to expect digital access to their products and services.

But thanks to Associate VP of User Experience Heidi Munc, Natiowide has transformed the way they think about surmounting these challenges. They design products that take the company’s motto to heart—by using tools like design thinking, they can better understand the needs of the customer and truly be on their side.

“Always be innovating.”

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The ins and outs of partnerships in design

For Nationwide, the big difference was including their design research team early and often in the design process. Through the creation of projects like their “Shiny Book,” Nationwide’s design team is able to see examples for user stories that spark action.

They’ve also partnered up designers, engineers, and business partners to create a customer experience framework. By involving all the interested parties, the team has a clearer vision of what’s important to whom and how to go about designing products and processes that value everyone’s input.

How to design like Nationwide

It’s not easy for a large company with a well-established history to quickly (and successfully) pivot into digital design. Take these tips from Nationwide’s process and see if they’ll help you make the changes you need:

  • Bring in engineering early. “Engineers are a more creative bunch than people sometimes give them credit for, and if you bring them in early and allow them to be a part of the creation process, they are so much more invested in it … they’ll spend the extra sweat to get it right,” said Munc.
  • ABI: Always Be Innovating. At Nationwide, a digital product isn’t a one-and-done deal. They start with design research, iterate based on their findings, and then research again. Researchers stay involved throughout the process to test possible solutions with users.
  • Transparency is key. Frequently, problems are presented in a business-centric context. Munc said, “As much as possible, when we’re in the discovery phase, we try to have our business partners and developers in the room with us for design sprints.” This is important as it keeps all parties informed and involved in the design process.

The Design Genome Project, which explores the DNA of the world’s best design teams, gives you concrete examples of what drives the success of the companies you admire and helps you build a body of evidence for investing in design. Check it out!