A delightfully simple kiosk set-up

Windows + Kiosks?

If you've ever been to an airport, you've likely encountered a kiosk before. Better yet, a kiosk running Windows. Assigned access, a feature in Windows, allows IT technicians to set up a Windows device to run a single - assigned - application such as an airport check-in application. This is also why, from time to time, you see blue screens of death in public, also affectionately known as "BSOD".

A happy, functioning kiosk and a kiosk plagued with BSOD.

Listening to our users

Because assigned access is not a new feature, the team has received a number of feature requests from platforms like UserVoice as well as from our field.

The priorities that bubbled up, based on customer feedback were:

  • Simplify the set-up process for assigned access

  • Make Microsoft Edge (the browser) a supported application for assigned access

The Microsoft Edge request that bubbled up to the top on UserVoice.com.

Frustrating flow

An initial benchmarking test was conducted with a pop-up that would come up and ask for feedback when users were working with assigned access. Nearly 30 people interacted with this pop-up, and the overall ease-of-use score was rated 2.9. The rating was attributed to the number of steps that are required to set up assigned access, as shown below. I suggested to do another benchmarking test upon implementation, where a rating higher than 4.0 out of 5.0 would mean success.

Examining the flow

The first step in optimizing the flow was to break down the flow and see where it could be improved. From below, the steps taken when a user has an assigned access accounted aren't too bad. However, when a user doesn't have an account, they have to go through not just five more steps, but a number of additional clicks as well. This would be the main focus for optimization.

The first iteration was done without knowing the requirements from the Microsoft Edge team yet, so I knew that this version would likely change.

1. User will need to add an account.

2. User creates an account if there is none.

3. User will need to choose an app.

4. User chooses an app.

Option 1: User is done and can change settings from the "Additional settings".

Option 2: User is done and can change settings using "Manage Settings" button.

Once we received requirements from the Microsoft Edge team, we realized that the two options for additional settings did not scale well. I decided to introduce a wizard component for this section iteration that's been used in a few other areas of Settings.

1. User starts the wizard.

2. User chooses an account to work with.

3. User chooses an app.

4. User selects any necessary configurations and dependencies for the chosen app. 

5. User finishes the wizard and has the option to go back and change settings that were selected initially in the wizard.

Once we received requirements from the Microsoft Edge team, we realized that the two options for additional settings did not scale well. I decided to introduce a wizard component for this section iteration that's been used in a few other areas of Settings.

The little things

Now that the core flow that all apps would share was taken care of, I could focus on the options for Microsoft Edge.

For example, in the first iteration of the options, the thought was to put all of the options together on one page to reduce clicks.

The "kiosk type" was also a select menu for consistency.

For this next iteration, the kiosk type has been hanged to radio buttons.

In a later iteration, the copy is also modified to sound more natural. Despite our target audience being IT technician, this sort of language is still too difficult to understand.

After a number of iterations, many of which involved copy, below is what the finished and shipped flow looks like, available on any PC running the Fall 2018 Update or later.

After this feature was shipped in the Fall 2018 Update of Windows, a post-ship benchmarking test was conducted. The rating increased to 4.3 from 2.9 for easy-of-use, which met our goal rating (and then some)!

A successful outcome

In addition to customer reception, this project was successful in many ways. The project was particularly enjoyable because the others I was working on the project with were really invested in the customers, especially galvanized by the initial customer feedback and response.

More importantly, this project really opened my eyes to two things: 1) trusting my gut in clarifying any and all jargon or technical miscommunications and 2) challenging what is possible. I know these learnings seem pretty obvious, but when you're in the flow of a project or short on time, sometimes it seems ok to skip over a concept that was mentioned or trust the developer or program manager - unhesitatingly - in what can and can't be possible. But not doing any of this can cost much more time in the long run.

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© 2019 by Sara Clayton