Kiosk and wayfinding design specialists! What is unique to your task that does not overlap with web UI and Interaction design?
July 22, 2006 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Design for Kiosks / Interactive wayfinding systems. What are the unique factors to consider?

I've been asked to design for a wall-mounted interactive wayfinding system that will include a staff directory, building maps, etc. Basically, I have the weekend to complete the project and am short on time for researching whatever conditions or factors that are unique to kiosk / wayfinding systems that I might not have encountered in my web UI and interaction design experience.

In addition to whatever you might be able to tell me, pointers to online resources are appreciated. (Most of my searches have turned up consulting and sales sites or overly general UI / Interaction design primers). Books specific to the task may be nice for future projects of this sort, but are probably not as helpful for this weekend.

Thanks in advance!
posted by safetyfork to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
People lean on kiosks. Make sure it can support that weight.
posted by furtive at 9:05 AM on July 22, 2006

Much of the knowledge is transferrable from web UI and software UI, and it helps that we're seeing some general convergence of best practices with modern gadgets these days. Much of the trick is to know when to pull from which discipline.

Since you're short on time, the best advice I can offer is to use a lot of paper prototyping, and to consider the workflow of the simplest of kiosk interfaces, such as ATMs and apartment building intercoms. Their UIs tend to offer fewer choices (broader themes) at the beginning, requiring the user to drill down to more detail with more steps/levels than the typical website or application (and with obvious ways to back up).

Looking at real-world examples that have already become common in our everyday lives will help you figure out how simple to make it and how to structure it. The paper prototypes come in handy once you've nailed down this thinking. They help you catch instances where you may have pulled a best practice from the wrong context. Solicit help from a friend or two to test using your prototypes, as their minds will be clearer.

Also, you didn't mention your form factor. Are you using a touch-screen, where all the buttons are on-screen, or are there physical buttons, knobs, or other controls outside the digital interface? Do you have to think about the standard size of a fingertip, for instance? The bigger the hit area, the better.

Best of luck!
posted by nadise at 9:58 AM on July 22, 2006

Response by poster: Wall-mounted, touchscreen. No other controls. Thanks for the comments thus far.
posted by safetyfork at 10:40 AM on July 22, 2006

  • Make clickable things look unambiguously clickable
  • Ensure buttons are big enough
  • Ensure everything's legible (text large enough; good font/colour choices)
  • Keep content and buttons away from the edges
  • Give visible (buttons lighting up/depressing) and subtle audible (if possible) feedback
  • Put things in logical, consistent positions with sensible grouping
  • Use clear and simple hierarchical navigation
  • When it's idle, use some tasteful animation and snappy text to promote its features

posted by malevolent at 11:57 AM on July 22, 2006

Best answer: Things I learned during my job as an info-kiosk designer:

* Hide the mouse cursor, it looks a lot more professional
* In a browser, you have activity when you let go of the mouse button, in a kiosk, have activity as you touch the button (onMouseUp vs onMouseDown).
* Have the kiosk reset after time without interaction, so if people just up and walk away, it's not hanging there. I usually asked after 90 seconds w/o a touch, then reset after another 60 seconds.
* Make big hit areas, make all buttons standard buttons.
* Remember that if you want people inputing text, you have to give them their own keyboard. Just know that people don't need 102 keys.

We did all of our UI stuff in Flash, just because it was SO FAST to create. And in the end, a lot of the kiosks I knocked out in a couple days or a week were just Flash players with an Apache/MySQL/PHP backend.

If you want any more advice, ideas, whatnot, my email is in my profile.
posted by jedrek at 1:51 PM on July 22, 2006

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