MIX10: Multi-touch Interaction Design in Public Places

by Luke Wroblewski March 16, 2010

In his presentation on Touch in Public: Multi-touch Interaction Design for Kiosks and Architectural Experiences, Jason Brush discussed lessons learned building large-scale digital interactions in public places.

  • Interactive kiosks are handling more tasks in commerce, finance, travel, etc. They take less space, are often more efficient, and potentially faster than the humans they replace.
  • But touch screens in public environments are not just about efficiency. We depend and interact with the things companies make all day long. Designers create the interfaces that connect people to businesses. Businesses want great results, people want great experiences.
  • Product design thinks about how to enable a great experience. Marketing is all about communicating the brand message (emotional aspects) of a product.
  • Advances in technology enable you to put interactive devices in public. This makes marketing more expressive and technology more useful.
  • Best practices: Make touchable things look touchable; Design for fingers; Use adaptive targets; Make sure hands don’t cover up information necessary for interaction; Don’t rely on traditional mouse-based gestures like hover and click; Use consistent and familiar gestures
  • Make it clear that interactivity is possible. Don’t assume people will know that they can touch a screen. Create an “attract state” that demonstrates interactivity when no one is using the device. Over time the default expectation will be that screens are touchable vs. not.
  • Reflect context. The most effective kiosks acknowledge where you are and make use of that.
  • Decide if interactions are personal or performative, or a combination of both.
  • An applications real audience may not be the end user. An interactive kiosk could primarily be marketing for an organization.
  • Create an easily understandable social order. In an ATM the order is clear. If creating a mutli-user environment, you need a model for the rules that determine how people will interact. Will it be orderly or chaotic?
  • Remember accessibility. One example: make sure an interface can be manipulated from the bottom half of the screen (wheelchair users).
  • If using multi-user systems. Allow people to correct overlaps between their interactions.
  • Keep your information hierarchy flat –make it easy to start over. If people abandon a UI, you need to make it quick to get back to the beginning.
  • Facilitate interactions with the devices and services people already use: SMS, mobile devices, Web Services, Email. These already contain personalized settings that can be leveraged.
  • Don’t forget the hand sanitizer!