CUA of the Month – July, 2008

Bob Budnik
"Usability is important in everyday life, from the simplest communication to the most complex. It's not just about web design, it's in everything that we do throughout the world."
 
Bob Budnik
Creative Director
Best Buy

Building Trust through Usability

by Susan Seifert

CUA Bob Budnik, Creative Director at retailing giant Best Buy, landed in his career through a lucky accident.

Undecided between majoring in biology and computer science, Bob followed his parents' advice and took a graphic arts class.

"It was one of the best decisions I ever made," Bob says. "I couldn't get enough of it. I ended up taking extra time with the teacher and homework." In that first class, Bob designed a poster that won 3rd place in a National Guard Poster Contest for the State of Connecticut. He continued winning scholarships and awards for his graphic design throughout high school and college.

After college, Bob worked in graphic arts and Web design for small companies in his home state of Connecticut. In 1994, he joined Micro/MacWarehouse, eventually becoming Senior Manager of the Web in charge of marketing, design, and usability.

In 2004, Bob was recruited by Best Buy. His experience at Micro/MacWarehouse made him a perfect fit for Best Buy's new initiative, a Business Division serving business, education, and government customers.

Best Buy For Business was intended to be distinct from Best Buy. The design team was instructed to use the Best Buy logo on the website, but not the Best Buy color scheme. That decision had unexpected results.

"The first website had muted colors – tans, yellows, and grays – on a white background," explains Bob. "There were some darker blues, but none of the strong, high-contrast blue used by Best Buy. It looked like the Best Buy logo was dropped onto somebody else's website."

"We started hearing from customers who said they weren't sure if it was Best Buy or somebody trying to be Best Buy," Bob says.

There were reactions from within the division, too. "The sales reps came to work because they wanted to be Best Buy employees," says Bob. "And they weren't sure whether or not they were."

Around this time, Bob took all four HFI certification courses back-to-back over a two-week period in San Diego. He came back with some new perspectives.

"It connected the dots in my mind," Bob says. "I saw how many things I had been doing naturally were actually documented in the training and realized, wow, I'm not too far off'."

The training did more than confirm Bob's instincts. It gave him the terminology, guidelines, and research to work more effectively.

"The HFI training has made my job much easier," Bob says. "Before the training, I could tell when something was wrong, but couldn't always tell you what was wrong or why."

"Now when I review a design, I know instantly what's wrong and how to correct it," Bob continues. "I don't need to use trial and error anymore. And HFI gave me the research to show this is not just my opinion, it has basis in fact."

The training also gave Bob a new vision for the Best Buy For Business website.

"In class we learned that there's an aesthetic principle connected directly to the customer's trust levels," Bob says. "If the website isn't easy to use and doesn't have familiar elements identifying it, that trust isn't going to be there."

Bob also realized the importance of socialization.

"We had a lot of people on the IT side who didn't understand that design could make people react strongly," Bob says. "I had to explain to them that there are aesthetic principles that make people feel more relaxed, that build trust. And that this was not something I made up, but had research behind it."

"I tend to want to say to someone, 'Please just do this'," Bob continues. "But I realized you have to convince people. If they understand it and buy into it, they'll be able to move forward with it themselves. You don't have to hold their hand."

Bob and his team campaigned for site redesign. They got the okay and launched the new website in 2006. The new design used Best Buy colors and design elements. There was no longer any question about Best Buy For Business' identity. "It was like seeing a child and parent relationship to the brand," Bob says. "It's Best Buy and a child of Best Buy – the business segment."

The effects were instantaneous – and dramatic. "All of a sudden, we were getting more traffic to the site, and more sales," says Bob. "This was not a 1%-2% change, but a tremendous spike. On the bar chart it was like night and day."

Since the training, Bob is also more acutely aware of usability in his environment.

"I feel uncomfortable when I interact with something that's not usable," Bob says. "Before the HFI training, I thought it was just me, that I didn't get it, that I wasn't smart enough. But now I realize it's not me, there's just a lot of bad usability out there."

"With all the technology around us, if you have 10 little things that just don't feel right, they add up to one big thing and then it's not usable. It becomes one large piece of frustration," Bob continues.

"Usability is important in everyday life, from the simplest communication to the most complex. It's not just about web design, it's in everything that we do throughout the world."

CUA of the Month

Each month we highlight the successes and achievements of a different member of our CUA community. If you are a Certified Usability Analyst and would like to be considered for CUA of the Month recognition, please send a brief professional bio to hfi@humanfactors.com

Privacy policy

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

This Privacy Policy governs the manner in which Human Factors International, Inc., an Iowa corporation (“HFI”) collects, uses, maintains and discloses information collected from users (each, a “User”) of its humanfactors.com website and any derivative or affiliated websites on which this Privacy Policy is posted (collectively, the “Website”). HFI reserves the right, at its discretion, to change, modify, add or remove portions of this Privacy Policy at any time by posting such changes to this page. You understand that you have the affirmative obligation to check this Privacy Policy periodically for changes, and you hereby agree to periodically review this Privacy Policy for such changes. The continued use of the Website following the posting of changes to this Privacy Policy constitutes an acceptance of those changes.

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HFI may use personally identifiable information collected through the Website for the specific purposes for which the information was collected, to process purchases and sales of products or services offered via the Website if any, to contact Users regarding products and services offered by HFI, its parent, subsidiary and other related companies in order to otherwise to enhance Users’ experience with HFI. HFI may also use information collected through the Website for research regarding the effectiveness of the Website and the business planning, marketing, advertising and sales efforts of HFI. HFI does not sell any User information under any circumstances.

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Contacting HFI

If you have any questions or comments about this Privacy Policy, you may contact HFI via any of the following methods:
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PO Box 2020
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hfi@humanfactors.com
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Terms and Conditions for Public Training Courses

Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

Cancellation of Course by HFI

HFI reserves the right to cancel any course up to 14 (fourteen) days prior to the first day of the course. Registrants will be promptly notified and will receive a full refund or be transferred to the equivalent class of their choice within a 12-month period. HFI is not responsible for travel expenses or any costs that may be incurred as a result of cancellations.

Cancellation of Course by Participants (All regions except India)

$100 processing fee if cancelling within two weeks of course start date.

Cancellation / Transfer by Participants (India)

4 Pack + Exam registration: Rs. 10,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (4 Pack-CUA/CXA) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Individual Modules: Rs. 3,000 per participant ‘per module’ processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the course (any Individual HFI course) registration before three weeks from the course start date. No refund or carry forward of the course fees if cancelling or transferring the course registration within three weeks before the course start date.

Exam: Rs. 3,000 per participant processing fee (to be paid by the participant) if cancelling or transferring the pre agreed CUA/CXA exam date before three weeks from the examination date. No refund or carry forward of the exam fees if requesting/cancelling or transferring the CUA/CXA exam within three weeks before the examination date.

No Recording Permitted

There will be no audio or video recording allowed in class. Students who have any disability that might affect their performance in this class are encouraged to speak with the instructor at the beginning of the class.

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