CXA Spotlight

Krista Kostuch
“There was more in the realm of user experience I needed to learn that not even hands-on experience could teach me – best practices, methods, techniques, tools and everything else that I wanted to know how and when to apply.”
Krista Kostuch
UX Director for Issuer Product Group

From English Teacher to UX Champion

by Jim Garrett

Our CXA feature spotlights the success of Krista Kostuch, from TSYS®, where she manages a user experience (UX) team in the Global Product and Innovation division. The people of TSYS improve lives and businesses across the world by processing payments, nearly 49 million times each day. TSYS provides services in credit, debit, prepaid, mobile, chip, healthcare and more.

In 2008, Krista became the first Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) at her place of employment, which was Synovus at that time, and took on the task of infusing the user-centered design process into their software development life-cycle. A few years ago, at TSYS, she was asked to champion the institutionalization of UX throughout the enterprise – no small task for a company with nearly 10,000 team members internationally and approximately 400 clients in 80 countries.

She then heard about the CXA.

Where did the spark come to pursue UX?

After teaching high school English only one year, my new husband and I moved. In lieu of another teaching job, I found a contract position as a Technical Writer and was soon hired on full-time. At that time, I was sitting right next to the developers designing the application as I was writing instructions. As I was writing those instructions in detail – step one, step two, step three, etc. – it occurred to me this might be too many steps for the cardholder to accomplish a primary task within the application.

I wondered why we couldn’t optimize the flow and make a better experience for the user.

We then realized we needed someone to help us with the overall design of the product in addition to the development. So we hired a UX Consultant (I believe his title was an Interaction Designer or Human Factors Engineer back then) and he quickly became my mentor. It was then I decided that this is what I wanted to do with my career. I started to seek some type of graduate level education as I knew there was more in the realm of user experience I needed to learn that not even hands-on experience could teach me. There were best practices, methods, techniques, tools and everything else that I wanted to know how and when to apply.

Then I found out about HFI.

That was the CUA?

Yes. With my very first two CUA courses, I started applying the knowledge right away. That was back in 2007.

Fast-forward to 2012. At TSYS we needed to figure out how to bring user experience into the culture of our company, which is a huge task, as we are a large international company.

I took on this initiative a few years ago and soon after found out that HFI was offering a second level of certification, the CXA – perfect timing. After reviewing what the CXA courses offered, I knew I had to take them.

What happened after taking the CXA?

The CXA gave me the education to drive the plan toward our UX goals. I actually remember taking out the “Institutionalization of UX” book, gathering some key team members across the corporation, and weighing out the strategy. We put up the main components on the wall and then we started brainstorming – what do we need to do to bring education and awareness? What do we need to do to get the tools and templates we need, what do we need? What do we need in terms of staff? HFI helped guide us through the steps we needed to take.

With the support of our Executive Champions, we have established our Styles and Standards, a Persona library, and Browser and Web Accessibility Policies. Our staff is getting the training and certification needed, and we are purchasing the HFI Essentials of Usability course. In addition, we are forming a UX Job Family and currently creating a business case for a UX lab.

I am building my team now. We are implementing user-centered design into our product delivery strategy, from ideation to product retirement – UX is now a formal part of that process. This is a great achievement and a great step in the direction of infusing UX into our culture here at TSYS.

Where does your UX work connect with the consumer, the banks, and all that?

We get to work on several key projects that touch various people within the payment cycle, from cardholders to bank CEOs. Some of our products that we have already redesigned with a user-centered focus are: our key account holder servicing solutions, such as Credit Care and Centre Suite (consumer and commercial account management applications); credit evaluation, such as Instant App (account application form); and our fraud management, reporting, and data analytics solutions. We plan to continue to apply the user-centered design discipline across all of our products moving forward.

What did the CXA give you that you did not get from the CUA?

It definitely gave me knowledge of the actual tactical steps that we needed to take in order to successfully institutionalize user experience throughout the corporation. That is the main thing. It gave me insight as to how we needed to analyze the bigger user experience picture pieces. And the whole persuasion aspect, wow! I never realized what an impact emotion and trust have, like how you can utilize persuasion within the construction and design of the product. That just put a whole new twist on things for me.

Wow, from English teacher to this. Can you believe it?

I set out telling myself this was what I wanted to do, this was where I wanted to go – and I took the steps I needed to take. The CXA was instrumental in helping me achieve my career goals, and the offering of the advanced certification was definitely perfect timing!

It’s been a long road and I believe so much is yet ahead. It has taken a ton of persistence, repetitive communication, and optimism to get to where we are and where I am today. I look forward to continuing to deliver the message of all the value that will be brought to our company through applying user-centered design to deliver seamless innovative experiences.

CXA Spotlight

In this series we highlight the successes and achievements of those who have earned the CXA. If you are a Certified User Experience Analyst and would like to be considered for CXA Spotlight recognition, please send a brief professional bio to

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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

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Reviewed: 18 Mar 2014

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