By Geoff Bessin – IntuiLab
I cannot forget the time I came across a portrait oriented, 72” touch display in the middle of a store. This brightly illuminated kiosk was entertaining no audience. It sat there lonely and expensive. On screen – the company’s e-commerce website. This is a very bad idea.
We could get into a formal discussion about human-machine interaction and how communication on the Web and communication via touch interaction are quite different. But it’s not necessary to go so deep. There’s lots of more obvious reasons to stay away from traditional websites on touch screens. Keep the above kiosk in mind as we walk through seven reasons why traditional websites make for lousy touch screen content.
1. They’re not finger friendly
With a mouse, you have a visual sense of when your cursor is hovering above a link. On a touch screen, you just have to aim your arrow-finger and hope you hit the target. This is annoying. It’s probably why the screen at [name hidden]’s store was so big, to make the links as big as possible. Or think about trying to tap the right buttons in a crowded shopping cart. Good luck!
2. They’re not eye friendly
Although I’m in my just-past-mid 40’s (you can’t get me to say “late 40’s), my eyes aren’t that bad. I can see decently well. But I still find myself using a browser’s zoom option to increase the font size of websites. Good luck doing that on a kiosk. The option is likely hidden because a) the store doesn’t want jokers setting hilariously large or small font sizes, and b) the website may not adapt well to different font sizes. Wearing coke-bottle glasses? Good luck reading the fine print!
3. They require an Internet connection
If you’re in retail, you know this – network connections in shopping malls are typically junk. And in general, public facing environments can have quite poor network connectivity. They’re spotty, low performance areas that risk 404 loading errors peppered across even the most effective websites. If it’s running at turtle speed or can’t run at all, do you think the user is going to blame the network or blame you?
4. They’re impersonal
Since there is just no way a modestly intelligent visitor is going to log into his/her account – exposing their private interests to everyone walking by the screen – websites will have to generically cater to all comers equally. As a result, the level of personalization can be quite poor. This matters because with personalization your content becomes engaging, making conversion – whatever that means to you – more likely. You’ll be able to run targeted promotions and to collect demographic-related information. It’s kind of a big deal!
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5. UI options are limited
If we’re talking about traditional websites and not HTML5 masterpieces coded by a group of talented developers, the range of UI options is quite limited. You run the risk of looking dated and – more importantly – you squander the beauty of having a touch screen at your disposal. Tapping links, filling out forms, selecting images – yawn!
6. They cannot interact with their environment
It’s said that websites live in a sandbox. They cannot communicate with the local environment and the local environment cannot communicate with them. This is sensibly done for security purposes but, ok, you’re cut out from a wealth of technology options that would enhance the range of experiences possible. Beacon technology and sensors. Speech recognition. The Internet of Things. Don’t know what those are? Don’t worry because with a website, you can’t use them!
7. They’re uninspiring
Why would you display onsite what a person could do on their phone or computer? Shouldn’t you give them something unique that takes advantage of a set of technologies not found at home, creating experiences that couldn’t be reproduced on a website? Like, for example, multi-touch. Multi-touch! It’s awesome! Wouldn’t that be cool? Say no to boring.
If you have a staff of developers with HTML5 skills, there are ways to make Web-hosted experiences more modern and engaging. But that approach takes a lot of dedicated time, resources, and effort – and even then, you risk the above challenges. As a result, many opt for the easy way out and use a traditional website. Hopefully, you now understand that’s a shortcut you should not take.
Here’s a thought. Use IntuiFace on those screens! Coincidentally, IntuiFace-based content doesn’t suffer from any of the above limitations. 😉
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