Every student going to the NYU Health Clinic has to sign in upon arrival. They do so using an interactive screen located in the main hall of the Clinic.
Where it is
The screen is on a 3 feet high support along the wall. Almost none of the students see it at first glance. One out of ten go directly to the reception desk to tell the receptionist they have arrived for their appointment. This clearly shows the interactive screen is not well displayed in the space as it is supposed to prevent every student to disturb the receptionist for appointments. Instead of being displayed along the wall in front of the reception desk, the screen should be located in front of the elevator. There should also be a sign with an arrow indicating students they have to do directly to the interactive screen to check in.
How it works
The interactive screen uses two different fonctions: there is a card reader on the right hand side and the screen is a touch screen one. When the screen is not being used, is darkens. To light it up you have to touch it. There is no indication for that, which is confusing for most people. They assume the screen is not working. Then they touch the screen to see, and then it works. But they did it as a personal initiative, not because they followed instructions.
When the screen is on it asks the student to enter his student number using a touch screen keyboard. The keys are really hard to use. It did not seem to work when using the forefinger. Most of the people had to use their thumb to make it works. Most of them tried with their forefinger first, then switched to using the thumb after they saw it did not work. The digital square for each letter recognizes only a big fingerprint. People with really tiny fingers have a hard time typing their student numbers.
The touch screen is really slow. It take a long time to enter a 8 digits numbers. Most of the people had to press more than once on every number before it was registered by the screen. This means that instead of pressing only 8 times, most people have to press at least 15 times to enter their 8 digits student number.
Once users have understood they have to use the touch screen to enter their details, things seems to work find for everybody. They follow the instructions and go through the questions and answer to check in for their appointments. The average transaction takes three minutes.
The thing is that in addition to the touch screen there is another option students can use to enter their student number: there is a card reader on the right hand side of the screen. Only 2 students out of 10 saw it and understood what it was for. There is no sigh on the machine that tells you you could it. It is simply there, expecting people to understand what it is for. This is not really convenient as it is so much faster to swipe the card instead of entering the numbers with the fingers on the screen.
This interactive device is a great idea in itself. It is supposed to save time to the receptionists and make sure every student has checked in before their appointment. The things is that, like Norman explained, the visibility of the fonctions is not well organized. The machine offers several options to the user, but none of them are clearly displayed and explained. There is no sign, no arrow, etc. Users stand in front of the screen and try to figure things out on their own. The instructions are not clear, same as for the telephone system shown in Norman’s book.
People stand in front of the machine and have to guess how to use it. They are not well guided in the experience.