Jan. 2, 2013
By Craig Keefner
The surging mobile user segment coupled with cloud computing has created a host of new options for touchscreen-friendly user interfaces.
The self-service and kiosk industry has struggled for years to settle on the ideal UI. Many customers use their existing website for not only content but also as the main interface for a kiosk.
It wasn't so many years ago that we were breathing a sigh of relief — all the ATMs, airline check-in kiosks and Kodak photo kiosks had us thinking that consumers were now becoming comfortable with interacting with machines. We begged and borrowed parts of those to build an "intuitive interface."
Nowadays, given all of the new content publishing tools, websites are perfectly formatted with consistently-styled content, making it easier to parse or walk a site programmatically and present a new templated view.
Recently I've been looking at mobilizing my own websites and different ways to do it. One thing I am learning is that there are all types of mobilization cloud companies that will do the conversion for you, and offer any type of customization, with plenty of "widgets" for special functions. I like widgets...
So I took a regular website and ran it through one of the services. What I got was a great little mobile site, but also I could use that same design for my touchscreen kiosk.
For my test case I wanted to use a very "busy" or dense website. I was on www.modells.com, a sporting goods retailer. Here is their main website:
Now, I load the URL into my mobilization engine. I go through a quick 4-step process and boom, instant mobile site...
Now it looks like this:
Much better, though not much use for my 19-inch LCD touchscreen that typically runs 1280x1024. But I can fix that. I can reset my browser so that it emulates a mobile browser and override the resolutions:
Much, much better...
Now I have a website with a mobile version, but also pretty friendly and familiar iPad or Android smartphone-genre interface. I tend to like the 22-inch touchscreen and in portrait it works best. It's economical and you can get true HD capability.
One of the nicer features of the new mobilization engines here the amount of customization you can do. Here I'll change it from the Matrix to List. That works better on a large LCD:
Make sure your provider supports widgets. Additionally, it is helpful when these engines provide usage statistics that mirror Google Analytics. Instant reports are a good thing when it comes to usage, demographics, ROI, and operational status.
Craig Keefner is the manager of the Kiosk Industry Group and member of the Digital Screenmedia Association Kiosk Council. A version of this commentary ran on gokiosk.net.
Read more about interactive touchscreen kiosks.