The Perspective 
Tuesday, 04 February 2014

 
Laura Miller
Director of Marketing
KioWare

Usability can make or break the success of any new website, application, or software. Also known as the UI (user interface) or UX (user experience), usability refers to the user's ability to successfully navigate a product in the manner intended to accomplish the desired tasks. There are entire industries built around better understanding these experiences, from optimizing a website checkout process to encouraging users to visit a particular page. These research industries use buzzwords like Voice of the Customer, Consumer Obsession, and User Experience Advocate and they staunchly advocate that nothing be deployed without an extensive cycle of research, testing, revision and testing.

Why usability testing?

Why is usability testing so necessary? While the layout, process, verbiage and navigation of a website, program or application may make sense to those involved in the design, they don't always seem so obvious to the user. Age, technical savvy, and education may play a role in how a user navigates, but so too may cultural differences, intended goal, and fresh eyes. Knowing your user, and their abilities, goals, and environment are key components to creating a successful product.

Why does UX matter?

Why should we care about User Experience? Self-service kiosks are responsible for setting up a user's experience with a brand. There are many moving parts in a kiosk deployment. Three that come to mind from the start include: hardware, application/program, and lockdown software. Watching how these things work together to make for a comprehensive user experience is an important component to a successful and enjoyable user experience.

Kiosk usability fail

Here's one example of how a kiosk deployment can fail (and yet, still "succeed") in a restaurant environment. The waiter, in this example, finds a workaround for a system that is not serving their needs. It's a must read for any naysayers of usability testing and observation as a means of testing and refining software. According to the author, "Computer systems are not always used as the developers suppose." As evident in this example, computer systems are not always used as the developers intended, nor as they would hope. More importantly, a complicated system is not always the answer.

The only way to know how users will interact with your kiosk is to observe them via lab controlled usability testing and in-field studies. In addition to traditional observation techniques, technologies such as heat mapping and eye tracking can also be used to better understand the user experience. Kiosk software with server capabilities can also assist in gathering usage statistics. In future posts, we'll identify common usability errors, solutions, and research methods.

Are you observing your kiosk in action? Does your client allow time for testing? What is your favorite example of something you discovered (and corrected) through usability testing?

Posted by: Admin AT 11:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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