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Touchscreen Application Tips

Ten simple pointers that can make your touch-enabled application a success.

1. Run your application full screen.

Remove title bars and menu bars so your application can take full advantage of the entire display area.

2. Use bright background colors (not black).

Bright backgrounds in your application will hide fingerprints and reduce glare. Dithering or other patterned backgrounds (for example, the "crumpled paper look") help the eye focus on the screen image instead of reflections, even in areas where there are no icons or menu choices.

3. Use a simple point-and-click interface with large buttons.

Dragging, double-clicks, scroll bars, drop-down menus, multiple windows, or other elements can confuse the typical user and detract from user-friendliness and efficiency.

4. Turn the cursor off so your user will focus on the entire screen instead of the arrow.

A cursor on the screen makes the user think, "How do I get the arrow to do what I want?" Remove the cursor, and the user's thinking and actions become direct instead of indirect-thereby unlocking the true power of touchscreens.

5. Always give your users feedback as soon as they touch the screen.

Immediate feedback is critical to reassure the user that a touch has registered. Responses can be visual, such as 3-D button effects similar to those found on a standard Windows button. Or you can provide an audio response, such as a "click" or other sound output whenever a user touches the screen.

6. Make your application fun and fast.

Users will walk away from a sluggish system. You can keep their attention with a quick response to touches. Speedy systems also reduce vandalism. Avoid graphics modes offering excessive colors or high resolution-these will only slow down your system.

7. Make the application intuitive, limit choices, and guide the user as much as possible.

Test your application with users. If they pause in confusion-even for a moment-you've identified the areas than need improvement.

8. Digitized speech can talk users through your application.

Because the human brain can simultaneously process a voice and absorb an image, there is something almost magical about a user interface that provides voice prompts and touch response. The better kiosk applications exploit this knowledge for maximum effect. For example: "Touch the first letter of the company you are looking for." Click. "Now touch OK." Click.

9. Make your application part of an attractive package.

Animation and large fonts help attract users to kiosk applications. The actual design of the kiosk cabinet should also be attractive and sturdy.

10. Keep the following in mind when designing a kiosk cabinet.

Are you using forced-air ventilation? Put your fan at the top, near the monitor's vents. To minimize the airborne dust from footsteps, keep the intake away from the floor. Keep air from entering around the monitor face. Point your speakers in the direction of your user's ears. Use an Elo kiosk touchmonitor-otherwise, allow for variations in the physical dimensions of monitor models, as they change frequently. The display should also be mounted securely or have a steady base so it feels solid to the touch. Finally, choose a finish that does not show fingerprints-avoid polished stainless steel, chrome, or glossy black paint.

For more information on how to build a good touch application visit the Microsoft Dev Center.

For additional tips on using touchscreens with kiosks, see Keys to a Successful Kiosk Application.

For information on the new trend of using mini kiosks at the point of display (POD), see Small Kiosks...Big Business?