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The Usability Blog
A Practical Guide to User Experience Insights

Wendy’s plans kiosks – Here’s our advice

When you’ve got a taste for a square hamburger and a Frosty, you’re probably going to Wendy’s. Now, the fast-food giant is planning on installing ordering kiosks in 1,000 of its locations.

We’ve tested kiosks for fast-food clients in the United States and abroad. Our usability research has uncovered some problems, validated design decisions, and offered a number of actionable insights. There are two key points, though, that Wendy’s and others need to understand as they move forward with ordering kiosks.

First, these kiosks need to reflect the structure of the traditional menu. Although they can offer more than a static poster above the counter, they need to build on that foundation rather than presenting a new paradigm. We found that customers were generally familiar with their typical orders; they expected to easily order something like “a Number 4.” Presenting these items in a different manner or by name caused confusion and dissatisfaction.

The other important thing to consider is what happens after the order is placed. Customers are very familiar with the typical ordering process of a fast-food restaurant: place order with cashier, get drink, wait for food. However, ordering from a kiosk changes that. In our research, we found that users were unsure what to do after placing their order. Furthermore, users are unlikely to read a lot of information for instructions. Therefore, users need to be educated on what to do next, as clearly and concisely as possible.

As Wendy’s and others move forward with kiosks and other improvements, it’s vitally important to put the customer experience first. There are certainly internal benefits to kiosks, such as reduced labor costs, but the reason kiosks will ultimately be successful is because of the improved experience they offer customers. Customers, especially younger ones, prefer interacting with kiosks. Apart from the flash and novelty, the experience is seen as superior. As one user told us, “This way, I know my order is right. I don’t have to wonder if someone misheard me.” If Wendy’s can deliver an intuitive, easy-to-use kiosk, this will be a very successful endeavor.

-Matt Daughtry, Manager of Customer SuccessUsability Sciences


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