Kristina Bosland, HFID ˊ01 designs UX by understanding the how and why of customer interactions
Kristina Bosland, HFID ’01 is the kind of person friends come to when they need to talk through a problem; and she is naturally inclined to help. That carries over to her career in online user experience (UX) as she strives to understand the how and why of customer interactions — and creates ways to make them better.
“I’ve always been an inquisitive person,” says Bosland, who is director of online user experience at The Home Depot. “I love people; I like to understand what drives them and what makes them do what they do.”
It wasn’t until her parents encouraged her to add computer information systems to her psychology major at Quinnipiac University that technology began to influence her career path. Bentley’s Master of Science in Human Factors in Information Design (HFID) bridged the two disciplines into a career.
“It was early 2000, before anyone had coined the 'UX' phrase, so when I stumbled across human factors, I thought it seemed cool to get paid to design things and think about how to make it easier for people to use them,” Bosland recalls of exploring job options in two seemingly unrelated fields. “It sounded like a natural progression for me, so I enrolled in the HFID master’s program at Bentley.”
Though Bosland admits the Bentley program was rigorous, she thrived. “I'm the type of person who learns best by applying what I’ve been taught, so testing different methodologies and why a feature did or didn’t work was valuable.”
Along with coursework, Bosland worked as a testing associate in the Bentley Design and Usability Testing Center. She also learned a lot from conversations with classmates who were working in the UX industry. A big lesson: the job went beyond technical design skills. “Because UX was fairly new, a lot of these roles came back to proving to stakeholders the importance and necessity of creating a positive user experience for customers.”
Helping stakeholders understand, for example, the potential issues with a task on the website taking 15 steps and 30 seconds to complete instead of two steps and six seconds.
But clearly Bosland was good at making the case. Her résumé includes UX roles at big players like Monster.com, Bose, Autodesk, Intuit, Staples and currently The Home Depot. And thankfully, the industry has changed during the past two decades. “I get to come to work every day and solve customer problems instead of selling the process of user experience. My job is no longer a check box.”
Another thing that’s different for Bosland is working at a company with such a strong brick-and-mortar presence; Home Depot has approximately 2,000 stores across the U.S. “We have the unique challenge of creating a seamless, interconnected experience across all of our platforms, where it doesn't matter if you're in the store or on your phone or on a desktop computer. It’s our job to make sure that all of those internal and external pieces are well-connected.”
Bosland spends a lot of time helping different teams look at overarching strategies. “I'm consistently working on trying to connect the dots across teams so we can solve problems together as opposed to independently.”
Her management approach is a big piece of the puzzle. “I love being able to mentor and grow the people on the team; and I encourage others to do the same. This is such a diverse group and helping them recognize, value and learn from each other’s strengths makes us stronger.”
Plus, she creates a culture of growth mindset. “An important part of problem solving is being able to listen to different perspectives, because you may have the right answer or a really good answer, but the value in what we do is that we're not always right.”
That’s particularly important in an industry with such rapid change and innovation. “Be OK with saying you don’t know or in testing out an idea. I love the phrase 'Fail fast and fail forward.' It's about what you learn on the other side of failure that helps you achieve a goal.”