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Six Tips to Improve Kiosk Usability and Adoption

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:

Location matters

* 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.

Indicate consequences

* 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


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I agree with this..the info kiosk turn into a marketing and effective advertising tool will only encourage the return custom and that will be an achievement that the current employees won’t have the capability to bring to you.

Kiosk interfaces are really challenging for me but thanks for sharing your experience and this has been helpful. Well done!

This is wonderful. I hope more and more complete