Good user experience (UX) is essential for the success of any self service application, and this is even more true for a kiosk. More than any other application, a kiosk stands or falls as a result of the UX design.

While it is important to have an attractive design which makes people want to walk up to the kiosk, the usability of a kiosk determines whether the user will be able to achieve their goals and whether they will want to use the kiosk again.

A common goal of a self service kiosk is to help a person to complete a task. It often provides a way of interacting dirctly with company systems for the completion of routine tasks, freeing up time for employees to help with the non-routine.

Completing an application, taking a photo, updating contact details, making a payment, or scanning a passport are common examples. In any self service application this type of task can be improved and made quick and easy by a good UX design, however this is critical on a kiosk, and kiosks have different requirements than websites and mobile apps.

While websites, kiosks, and mobile apps can share the same content and update systems, each will work best with a specific UX design. The differences are much deeper than just the size of the buttons.

7 key differences between kiosk design and web design:

  1. Choosing to use the kiosk - The user needs to see the kiosk, understand its purpose, and want to use it - from a distance and in busy locations. The Attract loop and signage design are key, and locations need careful planning.
  2. Wide range of users - The user experience must cater to a wider range of people than a website - including those who may not normally use computers. Directions and cues should be obvious and not rely on standard online behaviour.
  3. Completion of a specific task - Most successful kiosks help the user to complete a task. The task and how to achieve it must be easily and quickly understood by someone who has not used the kiosk before.
  4. Distractions, noise, and crowds - The kiosk location may be crowded and full of distractions. The signage and the kiosk interface should prepare the user at the start for any information they may need - credit or EFTPOS cards, passport numbers, so they are not scrambling to find these things half way through a transaction. The kiosk should provide clear on-screen directions, enough time to understand them, and good visual cues to prompt the next step.The user may feel pressured by queues and embarassed if they have a problem, so use audio sparingly if at all.
  5. Speed of response is essential. The user may be standing, carrying bags, or hanging onto toddlers. There may be queues for the kiosk. The plane may be leaving.
  6. Privacy - a balance needs to be struck between displaying the information to the user and displaying it to everyone else in the room. Audio (if used) and visuals need to be planned with privacy in mind.
  7. Touching the screen - usually with their right hand. Some parts of the screen are more easily accessible than others, and while touching the screen, some areas will be blocked from view by the arm or hand. And of course, any buttons need to be large enough to be easily touched and far enough apart to avoid touching more than one button at a time.