Self Service Shopping and User Interface Design
There is a continuing trend in developing terminals that deliver information and services to the general public. These terminals, or kiosks, deliver services at a point of need, such as an ATM near a shopping centre, or a checkout kiosk in a grocery store. Since so many people use these kiosks on a daily basis, the efficiency of the user interface product design can make the difference between an enjoyable experience and a frustrating one for the customer. Kiosk systems present a challenge to designers as they must attract customers and keep them engaged by being simple and intuitive. To cater to all levels of experience you, as a designer, must find the perfect balance between taking a complex task and making it easy. The following are some guidelines for making shopping at a kiosk easier for the everyday user.
Define the User Requirements
The first important step is to define the purpose of the kiosk, the user population, and the goals of their use. Start by considering typical task scenarios and move through hypothetical processes that reflect different tasks, variation in tasks and possible problems a user might face. Try to understand the characteristics of the user population as well as the context of the kiosk usage. This stage of development will benefit from group discussion, interviews and user-based tests.
Your kiosk needs to cater to the wide range of experience the general public has with interactive systems. People should require little or no prior experience to use your kiosk efficiently. The nature of the input should be as consistent and logical as possible throughout the task. For example, the user should only be required to make one input at a time when selecting options on the screen, and any new item that is presented should be done so with a clear prompt, one at a time.
Output from the System
The way that information is presented on the screen will make a big difference in the ease of use. Display text should be kept as clear and simple as possible. The use of colours, pictures or icons, is preferable over using too much text as well. For example, at a grocery store kiosk, it is easier for a user to pick out the image of bananas on an icon instead of having to scroll through a list of text.
Structure and Navigation
A kiosk system must present a clear and simple structure to the user to help them feel more confident while navigating. It should have a clear starting point, or ‘main menu’, that the user can return to if they wish. The interface should convey a clear structure to the user, such as a sequence of screens where the user can make a selection at each stage, a set of on-screen objects that present information in a dialogue box, and a network of screens that the user can browse through while being supported by an overview map showing the paths followed. To facilitate navigation, the user should be presented with certain controls throughout the whole process, such as ‘start’, ‘finish’, ‘restart’, ‘go back’, ‘next page’, ‘previous page’, ‘help’ and ‘OK’ buttons.
These days, most people have already experienced using some kind of kiosk, so more and more people are becoming confident with their ability to use them. This means that the future is bright for user interface self-service shopping, and may lead to more complex industrial design opportunities.