Building a world-class in-house Experience Design agency


We created a 30-strong in-house experience design team for Nationwide Building Society in less time than anyone thought possible. It’s already proved its worth.

The challenge: your business is user experience

Today, the services that the high street banks offer are rapidly becoming commoditised. Meanwhile, their higher-value services such as international money transfers are under threat from fast-moving startups. To compete and win, banks need to differentiate themselves with outstanding user experiences.

We designed a collaborative workspace
A distinctive identity

The journey: digital transformation

Nationwide Building Society typically had 30 external user experience contractors working on projects at any time. But each time a project ended, they risked losing the accumulated skills and knowledge along with the contractors. It was clear they needed a full-strength in-house experience design team. They invited pitches from some of the world’s biggest tech companies… and from us.

We were set a challenge everyone else thought was impossible: in just three months, put in place the people, procedures, and office environment and start achieving world-class results.

The insight: stay light, move fast

Our ultimate client, Barnaby Davis, had arrived at Nationwide Building Society in September 2014 as Divisional Director for Group Retail Strategy. He’d seen how new ideas can take a long time to implement and he was determined to speed change by setting short, clear deadlines.

This aim resonated with our Lean UX approach to project management. We focus on continually delivering value and eliminating the waste and delays caused by documentation that no one reads or ‘just in case’ processes that bulk out project plans.

Faced with integrating a new team into a large organisation in a short space of time, we focused on keeping things simple. Instead of creating a complex, fragile project plan full of interdependencies, we divided activities into five small teams running in parallel, coordinated by daily stand-up meetings. Running five semi-independent projects kept individuals focused and moving.

A lean project approach focusing on delivering value at pace

The solution: an agency in a box

While we don’t like too much documentation, we needed to give the existing and future staff members clear ways of working. So we mapped out a flexible UX process and instructions for activities from user testing to prototyping. Then we published it on an intranet, where staff could share tips and link to resources.

We found and fitted out new offices with plenty of flexible areas to encourage collaboration and created a space where people from other parts of Nationwide would want to come and collaborate.

Meanwhile, we set up management processes, wrote job descriptions, and staffed small, flexible teams that could deliver large and small projects.

The aim was to get the office live by 2 September. We were ready a week early.

Two things stood out about cxpartners; first, we share their ethos of putting customers ahead of technology or business hierarchy. Second, they have a pragmatic, lean approach that has helped us to half the time it takes to deliver projects while improving the quality of output.
Webster Garratt, Head of Digital Experience and Service Design, Nationwide

Proof of success?

One of the team’s first projects was an iPad based tool for staff to use when discussing customers’ finances. To design it, the team watched staff in branches, involved them in sketching, and tested designs with customers. Nationwide Building Society’s compliance team took part in weekly design meetings to avoid delays later.

The tool is called Healthcheck and customers and staff love using it. The new UX team delivered this in half the time and at an eighth of the cost originally quoted by another supplier.

Key outcomes

In house user experience team of 30 delivering within 3 months
Delivery under budget
Successful project delivered within 7 weeks of team launch
Stu Charlton

Find out more

If you'd like to chat about how we can help you, email

Or read more about how we help our clients innovate successfully in the financial services sector.