Touchscreen Question

23 Oct 2004 - 1:42pm
9 years ago
4 replies
645 reads
Nathan Moody
2004

I'm working on a touchscreen UI application at the moment, and as many
of you know, such interfaces present pretty interesting challenges.
This project is especially interesting in its complexity; it deals with
pretty vertical domain knowledge and its users need extremely flexible
and freeform methods of interaction with the kiosk...tons of buttons,
which certainly creates rather interesting issues of screen real estate
at 1024x768. ;-)

Naturally, this had made me very aware of touchscreen UI's I've used
recently. The four touchscreens I've interacted with the most, and what
stands out about each of them, are:

- ATM's: Extremely simple and clear through limited choices and
familiar transaction patterns ( do (foo) from X to Y, in (bar) dollars)

- Home Depot Self-Checkout Kiosks: Simple interaction design (scan
item, see subtotal, say 'finished,' see total, pay), abysmal error
handling (they still require 1-3 people to solve problems per set of
four kiosks, depending on customer volume).

- Airline Ticketless Self-Checkin Kiosks: Very narrow user goal (give
me my freakin' ticket!); card-swiping hardware alleviates manual data
entry hassles.

- The Toyota Prius (2004-2005 models): Simple (four main menu items),
but having to drill down for common controls (fan speed, seek within a
CD track) is a dangerous distraction...and a combination of hard- and
soft-keys, between the touchscreen, the driver's wheel, and the main
dashboard, requires multiple loci of attention while driving.

Does anyone have a touchscreen experience that stands out as being
uncommonly complex, satisfying, or bewildering? And how you might have
emulated or improved upon it if you were designing one yourself?

Best,
-Nathan

-------------------------------------------------
director of interactive media - fluid, inc.
http://www.fluid.com

creative dictator - atomick industries
http://www.atomick.net
-------------------------------------------------

Comments

23 Oct 2004 - 7:09pm
Ted Booth
2004

Not personal experience, but watching waiters and restaurant staff use
touchscreens to handle, sometimes, complex orders and transaction in a
fast-paced environment is sure to yield all sorts of good and bad
examples.

On Oct 23, 2004, at 11:42 AM, Nathan Moody wrote:
> Does anyone have a touchscreen experience that stands out as being
> uncommonly complex, satisfying, or bewildering?

23 Oct 2004 - 11:43pm
mtumi
2004

my personal favorite in the bewildering category:

http://www.homeauto.com/Support/Presentations/OmniTouch/OmniTouch.htm

MT

On Oct 23, 2004, at 2:42 PM, Nathan Moody wrote:

> Does anyone have a touchscreen experience that stands out as being
> uncommonly complex, satisfying, or bewildering? And how you might have
> emulated or improved upon it if you were designing one yourself?

24 Oct 2004 - 1:12pm
jstanford
2003

As a 2004-2005 Toyota Prius owner, here is my commentary on the touchscreen:

Appalling.

> - The Toyota Prius (2004-2005 models): Simple (four main menu
> items), but having to drill down for common controls (fan
> speed, seek within a CD track) is a dangerous
> distraction...and a combination of hard- and soft-keys,
> between the touchscreen, the driver's wheel, and the main
> dashboard, requires multiple loci of attention while driving.

The information architecture and button labeling of the navigational system
in particular is horrific. At this point I have come up with new mental
names for the "Route" and "Map View" buttons at the bottom of the screen,
assigning "Edit" to the Route" button and "Route overview" to the "Map View"
button however this still doesn't solve the problem because the items under
each area are inconsistent. Also, once you get into those subareas, the
buttons under there have non-sensical names. The name of the game with this
UI is pure memorization because in 6 months of ownership I have still not
been able to create a successful mental model that encompasses the whole
navigational UI and helps me guess where all map related features are
located.

Also, the issue with multiple locis of attention is very frustrating.
For example, to switch to CD from another audio device (like radio or tape)
you can either press a hardbutton on the dash or cycle through mode on the
driver's wheel until you get to the CD. Then, to switch to a different CD in
the changer, you have to press the audio hard key next to the touchscreen
(different area then the main dashboard). And then press the number of the
CD on the touchscreen. Finally, to select a specific track on the CD, you
need to press up or down arrows on the driver's wheel. There is no way to
change track on the dashboard or touch screen. So, to to do something as
common as select a specific track on a specific CD in your car, the locus of
attention must change a total of 4 times from the dahsboard to the
hardbutton next to the touch screen to the touchscreen to the steering
wheel. Wow.

The interaction does not get much better when you investigate the other
functionality the Prius offers.

I have actualy tried to track down the company that designed this UI to give
them feedback. I have tried to figure out if it was designed internally by
Toyota or by a third party but have been unsuccessful. Does anyone know?

Julie Stanford

_____________________________________
Julie Stanford
Principal, Sliced Bread Design | www.slicedbreaddesign.com
650-799-7225

28 Oct 2004 - 12:20pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Nathan Moody <nathan at atomick.net> writes:

>Naturally, this had made me very aware of touchscreen UI's I've used
>recently. The four touchscreens I've interacted with the most, and
>what stands out about each of them, are:
>
>- ATM's: Extremely simple and clear through limited choices and
>familiar transaction patterns ( do (foo) from X to Y, in (bar)
>dollars)

There is a lot of variation within this slice: every bank has a
different layout and path sequence, and they all seem to change it
every couple years. Well Fargo used to have what I considered among
the best, but they recently changed to a system with slow-to-respond
hard buttons, a screen canted so that it's hard for people over 5'6"
to be sure what on-screen button they are selecting, and hard buttons
which mysteriously (no label) correspond to on-screen ones (so I
ended up with the wrong amount of cash withdrawn this morning); my
time-to-cash has probably doubled with the new machines.

>- Home Depot Self-Checkout Kiosks: Simple interaction design (scan
>item, see subtotal, say 'finished,' see total, pay), abysmal error
>handling (they still require 1-3 people to solve problems per set of
>four kiosks, depending on customer volume).

Both major supermarket chains here put these in a year ago, and
Safeway ripped them back out about three months back. I presume that
they decided that the headaches were too much -- produce was
especially hard to deal with -- and that they weren't going to lose
any customers to QFC by not having them.

>- Airline Ticketless Self-Checkin Kiosks: Very narrow user goal
>(give me my freakin' ticket!); card-swiping hardware alleviates
>manual data entry hassles.

As with any of these, the more exposed people are to them in general,
the easier they become to use. Alaska Airlines was, I think, the
pioneer with these -- before September 11, they were all over at
Sea-Tac; you could even check in at some off-site car parks -- and it
amazes me to see just one or two of the machines at the check-in
counters for other airlines in other cities, and usually with no one
making use of them. (Memorial Day Weekend at O'Hare in June 2002:
1000 people in the paper ticket line, 6 waiting for the machines.
Wow.)

These self-serve machines are starting to break out into other
reservation areas. The Riviera in Vegas had them this summer. With
a mediocre UI, such that the desk person had to help me twice. She
said that the main result of the machines had been to reduce staff
(layoffs, woo!), that it still took as long or longer per customer to
register at the hotel. So now instead of 6 lines with 6 people on
staff, there were 10 lines with 1 or 2.
--

----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
Jim Drew Seattle, WA jdrew at adobe.com
http://home.earthlink.net/~rubberize/Weblog/index.html (Update: 10/14)

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