Posts tagged “kiosk”

Leading with Error Recovery


JetBlue counter, Sea-Tac airport

This sign directs JetBlue customers to a counter based on their specific situation. The first item listed is Kiosk “Oops” Messages. JetBlue is bold enough to acknowledge that things aren’t always going to work perfectly and they’ve made the path to error recovery prominent. This is good customer service, and it’s good design: allow for – and acknowledge that you are allowing for – failures, and reframe them positively.

Aesthetics of interactivity

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Carnaby Street kiosk, London, July 2008

In a previous post I described an interactive display that looked like a static display. Here’s a static display that looks like an interactive display, through the color palette, the type of graphics, and the use of touchable materials (such as the black rubber) from consumer electronic devices.

See more of my London and Sheffield pictures here.

Benchmark, Mockup, and Prototype

Fast Company describes how Alaska Airlines has been redesigning their check-in environment. Some nice bits of process to note

White assembled a team of employees from across the company to design a better system. It visited theme parks, hospitals, and retailers to see what it could learn. It found less confusion and shorter waits at places where employees were available to direct customers. “Disneyland is great at this,” says Jeff Anderson, a member of White’s skunk works. “They have their people in all the right places.”

The team began brainstorming lobby ideas. At a Seattle warehouse, it built mock-ups, using cardboard boxes for podiums, kiosks, and belts. It tested a curved design, one resembling a fishbone, and one with counters placed at 90-degree angles to each other. It built a small prototype in Anchorage to test systems with real passengers and Alaska employees.

It appears that Alaska had some obvious (and shared) design goals: increase throughput and reduce confusion. There’s a whole class of environmental redesign projects where the goals aren’t as clear. In those cases, there’s some generative research needed to understand what aspects of the overall experience could and should be different.

Kiosks, technology, and culture

Yet another article that mocks the introduction of an automated technology. In this case, it’s a self-serve postal kiosk in San Francisco. Several silly examples in the story where people struggle to figure out how to use it, taking longer than the line for a real person, where the machine asks for lots and lots of extra info (since it has no a priori context like a human might), and so on.

Some themes that we now know

  1. Lots and lots of stuff is badly designed
  2. Many people can’t easily become quick at interacting with a new computer system
  3. Some tasks are more appropriate for a kiosk than others.
  4. Lack of context in an automated system and the resultant work the system (and thus the user) must do in order to establish that context reads as silly, funny, frustrating, and unacceptable

It’s impossible from these stories to tell, of course, what’s really going on. Me, I love self-check even if I have to fight it, even if I have to bend my natural tendencies to work the way it wants me to work. Maybe it’s being an introvert, or a bit of a technology geek, or curious, or just the idea that there’s a scam to be had by being savvy and checking out automatically rather than the usual way.

Helping you to shop, at Staples

I was at Staples recently and saw an interesting display; a standalone kiosk that dispensed a variety of shopping lists suggesting what school supplies would be needed for diferent grades Let’s forget for a moment that it’s July and they’re selling back-to-school, this was an interesting idea.

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I know grocery stores, for example, have toyed with getting shopping lists into customer’s hands in order to presumably help them buy more, but this occasional purchase seems more appropriate. The bottom of the sheets offer handy suggestions on parenting, which Staples frames as “Organizational Tip” – example: “You can’t make the bus come later or stop them from “forgetting” their homework. What you can help with is getting, and keeping, them organized. Binders, notebooks with pockets, folders, and accordion files are all great organizational tools.

Of course, that’s the solution!

Yeah, I’m a bit cynical, but I think the idea is basically a good one. They have a long way to go if they want to be your kids-management partner (or your workflow management partner, or any other sort of partner based on the types of tools they are selling); they are no Steelcase/Herman-Miller, but the little signs are intriguing.

Also, I saw a funny binder comparison widget that Sara should blog about. On the wall of binders, there is a small device that is intended to help you decide between the Durable binders and the Heavy Duty binders. It’s a small card with the binder rings on either side, with a comparison chart highlighting the different features. But the humor comes from their inability to be direct and point to one version as better than the other. Instead of the Good-Better-Best cliche, they’ve gone for an even more confusing Pretty Darn Great and Really Great. I don’t remember the exact verbage, but one binder might feature Stay-Tite lock rings and the other would feature Sup-R-Secure D-rings. You had to go back to the price point on the individual binders and infer which was actually “better” than the other. Their little display (unlke Sara, I don’t shop with a camera on hand and wasn’t prepared to capture it) is cleanly designed and suggests transparency and helpfulness but it’s really an awful piece of propaganda.

Hilton check-in kiosk

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The lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria is as you’d expect, fancy, with lots of dark wood. And how does technology integrate? Not too well. The Hilton (I guess they own the W-A) check in kiosk is stuffed in a cabinet of matching wood to somehow make it fit in. Ironically, the day we visited (no, I was not staying there) all the terminals were down.

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