Kiosks: How to Create a Successful Self-Service Kiosk Project

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The Anatomy of a Kiosk ProjectIn any self-service kiosk project, there are three major components needed to determine its success: the ...

The Anatomy of a Kiosk Project

In any self-service kiosk project, there are three major components needed to determine its success: the hardware, the user application, and the kiosk system software.   Before choosing hardware, the application and software, the function of the kiosk must be determined.  Outlining the tasks of the kiosk will help ensure the kiosks are used and, more importantly, used as intended. For instance, if the kiosk is selling something, how can I grab the attention of potential users that would otherwise walk by?  Or, if the kiosk displays secure information such as web-banking kiosk, how do I secure the information on the kiosk and make the user feel that they are physically safe while standing at the kiosk? The answers lie in the successful integration of the hardware, application and software.
 
Choose Kiosk Hardware based on the needs of your project

After you have determined the purpose of the kiosk, compare hardware based on price, quality, material or features.  For example, if the kiosk displays highly sensitive information, features to look for would be privacy screens that black out the monitor and panels that block the screen to people standing on either side of the kiosk.   

The material of a kiosk enclosure can range from metal to wood to injection-molded plastic.  Again, the function of the kiosk determines the best material. Generally metal kiosks are more durable and secure, wood kiosks can give a more refined look, and injection-molded plastic kiosks are great for eye-catching designs as they can be created in almost any color.   

Utilize Kiosk Peripherals to enhance your project


The hardware not only entails the kiosk itself, but also any peripheral device used to enhance the function of the kiosk.  There are several peripherals to choose from including security mats, proximity switches, mag stripe readers, bill/coin acceptors, barcode scanners, and printers. 

These peripherals must be configured either into the application or kiosk system software in order to function, and should also be integrated into the enclosure for aesthetics and security.  For example, printers that print sensitive information should be locked, secured, and enclosed within the kiosk.  These types of printers should also utilize printer retractors and security mats, ensuring that as soon as users step away from the kiosk, the printed information is retracted back into the kiosk.  A security mat can also be configured with kiosk software so that as soon as the user steps on the mat, the kiosk displays the start page, and as soon as the user steps off the mat, all cookies and cache are cleared for the next user.  

Design your Kiosk Application with the user in mind   

The next component in a kiosk project is the user application, which focuses on user interface and design.  Whatever your application may entail, it should be short, simple and easy to navigate, as typical kiosks require the user to stand during use.  The design of the application should also consider that if the kiosk uses a touchscreen, then links and buttons should be large enough for a human finger to touch.  This is especially important if deployers are using an existing application where the links are currently only large enough for a computer user’s mouse to click.   

Take advantage of the kiosk-specific security that off-the-shelf Kiosk Software offers  

Many kiosk issues, such as security, idle time and remote monitoring, are provided by kiosk software, the third component of a kiosk project.  Kiosk software deters users from maliciously attacking the kiosk by wrapping around the application, allowing users access only to the application and preventing access to the desktop, file system and URLs not applicable to the kiosk function.  If the kiosk includes a keyboard, the kiosk software also disables all problematic specialty keys such as ctrl+alt+del. 

During idle time, kiosk software can be configured to rotate through an attract screen cycle to capture the attention of users that otherwise may become passersby.  Attract screens also offer additional protection by acting as a secure “screen saver” by clearing all cookies and cache from the previous user’s session as soon as the kiosk becomes idle.  

In addition to kiosk security, kiosk software can offer remote monitoring features to manage multiple kiosks from a central location.  Remote monitoring consists of receiving a daily update of the kiosk activity and email or text alerts when there is kiosk error, such as printer paper jam.  Other features include the ability to push content out to kiosks and the ability to upload performance statistics such as usage statistics.  These metrics can help measure the performance and ROI of the kiosk.  

Conclusion

There is no one component that will guarantee the success of a kiosk project.  Understanding the end-user as well as kiosk issues such as security, performance metrics and durability are important factors.  Consideration of these factors along with the integration of kiosk hardware, the application and kiosk system software, creates success in a self-service kiosk deployment.   

Choose Kiosk Hardware based on the needs of your project

Compare hardware based on price, quality, material or features, such as privacy screens and panels for kiosks displaying sensitive information. The material of a kiosk enclosure can range from metal to wood to injection-molded plastic. The function of the kiosk determines the best material. Generally metal kiosks are more durable and secure, wood kiosks can give a more refined look, and injection-molded plastic kiosks are great for eye-catching designs as they can be created in almost any color.

Determine the goals most important to your project, and base your hardware selection off of those goals.  5point can manufacture standard or custom kiosks, and specializes in providing security through privacy panels, privacy screens and security mats.  Kiosk Information Systems is known for its ability to mass produce kiosks inexpensively.  And Seepoint can provide a turnkey solution for a variety of countertop, wall mounted and free standing kiosk systems.

Utilize Kiosk Peripherals to enhance your project

The hardware not only entails the kiosk itself, but also any peripheral device used to enhance the function of the kiosk. There are several peripherals to choose from including security mats, proximity switches, mag stripe readers, bill/coin acceptors, barcode scanners, and printers.
Larco security mats, Magtek Intellistripe Readers and Custom printers are all easily configured through kiosk software such as KioWare.

Design your Kiosk Application with the user in mind

The next component in a kiosk project is the user application, which focuses on user interface and design. Whatever your application may entail, it should be short, simple and easy to navigate, as typical kiosks require the user to stand during use.

Find an application developer that has specific experience in kiosk application development.  Consulting with a kiosk application developer will help you uncover the user interface issues related only to kiosks.  Livewire specializes in Ticketing, eConcierge, and turnkey solutions.  Also, many hardware manufacturers can provide the application development or point you to another company that can. 

Take advantage of the kiosk-specific security that off-the-shelf Kiosk Software offers

Kiosk software runs the application in a "kiosk-mode", which deters users from maliciously attacking the kiosk. Kiosk software does this by wrapping around the application, allowing users access only to the application and preventing access to the desktop, file system and URLs not applicable to the kiosk function.

Test a demo of any kiosk software before you purchase.  KioWare Kiosk Software, which specializes in browser lockdown security as well as server-based remote monitoring, offers a 500 hour fully functioning free demo.  Sitekiosk also offers a limited trial.
  • Be sure to do background research and ask for references from all of your providers. Ask yourself the following when choosing a provider: Does the developer have specific kiosk development background? Too many times a deployer will want to use their current web developer; kiosk projects have issues that are very kiosk-specific and different than any other field. You should know if the provider has a proven track record for on-time shipments. Are they known for their customer service? Are they well known within the industry? Cover all of your bases so that surprises are a minimum during deployment.

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