Kiosk interfaces are challenging for designers because they must anticipate and accommodate the completion of key functions, while making the interface as error-proof as possible. Keeping it simple isn’t so simple!
A successful kiosk should not require human assistance or intervention during consumer use. Well-designed kiosks can optimize efficiency for both the consumer and the business while offering a great user experience. In contrast, poorly designed kiosks can increase user frustration and reduce consumers’ ability to act on their immediate needs (and/or retail impulses).
We have experience in designing kiosks and self-service interfaces, including airline check-in kiosks, transportation/shipping kiosks, restaurant kiosk and POS terminals, retail inventory kiosks, financial transaction kiosks, and next-generation multi-touch interfaces with self-service applications. Based on our experience, we have identified a number of key success factors for a kiosk’s overall usability and adoption:
* Kiosks should be centrally located without disruption to traditional “manned” lines. Well placed kiosks will allow consumers to make a conscious choice, whereas peripherally located ones can often be missed opportunities. Design “attract mode” screens to entice consumers to use the kiosk from afar.
Clearly indicate the capabilities
* It should be immediately clear what the kiosk does from the very first time the user walks up to it. If a kiosk supports five basic tasks, all five should be explicitly listed or referred to via the start screen.
* External signage surrounding the kiosk - or printed directly onto the side - should be provided when possible to encourage consumers who might be otherwise hesitant to try a kiosk.
Provide linear navigation
* Consumers should always be able to step back in a process or exit altogether.
Use simple language and clear illustrations
* Consumers at a variety of reading levels will need to understand the kiosk’s instructions. Illustrations may be essential.
* If a credit card or photo memory card needs to be inserted a certain way, the kiosk instructions should indicate the relative location of the card reader and the correct orientation for the card.
* Consumers need to feel in control of the actions they are carrying out on the kiosk, or they will seek out human assistance.
Facilitate the impression of control
* Inform users when they begin a multi-step process (and briefly indicate what the steps are).
* Indicate what will happen if the user makes a selection with dependent options.
* Provide specific and helpful error messages and screens if the user enters information that is not valid or conflicts with earlier information.
* Provide a clear price confirmation before requesting payment.
* Ask for confirmation before allowing the user to cancel out of a process.
* Provide progress indicators if the user must wait for a transaction or search to take place.
With these tips in mind, you are on your way to designing a great kiosk user experience.
Martin Ho is Vice President of GfK’s User Experience team. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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