06 Aug 2008

The Kiosk Experience

06 Aug 2008
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As a designer and consumer advocate, I often judge the experiences that I have with various products and services. So I was keen to read David Pogue’s recent article with his own experience observations, aptly titled It’s the Software, Not You.

Of the Delta Airlines touchscreen kiosks, Pogue writes:

“Whenever I encounter badly designed software like this, I stand there, slack-jawed, mind boggling, and wonder what on earth the designers were *thinking.* Not, obviously, about elegance, intelligence and simplicity”

Beyond kiosks, Pogue also mentions the PalmPilot (as a good example) and touchscreen payment systems in taxis. The article got me thinking about the various examples of kiosks, good and bad. I recall going to the movie theaters about two years ago and being pleasantly surprised that all I had to do was insert my credit card, and there my tickets were… tadah! That simple.

It’s always great to be pleasantly surprised by the devices you interact with, but it’s not a simple thing to design them. It takes a lot of thought and research to minimize the steps and customize to the user’s needs. Most importantly, knowing what the most common tasks are can be invaluable, particularly for kiosks which are meant to speedily get people through common tasks. Holger Struppek of Hot Studio writes in-depth about one such design exercise for Wells Fargo’s ATM’s.

I also recommend reading the research reports on kiosks from Witchita State’s SURL (Software Usability Research Laboratory): Designing a Touch Screen Kiosk for Older Adults: A Case Study and How Important is Visual Feedback When Using a Touch Screen?

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