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Restaurant kiosk UX grows as apps take menus digital

  • Published on March 12, 2017
Restaurant kiosk UX grows as apps take menus digital

A signal of the far reaching expansion of user experience comes from the role UX is playing in restaurant menu design. Many traditional graphic designers have found work helping restaurants update and revise menus. With more than 500,000 restaurants in the U.S. alone, even designers in the smallest of towns were likely to find at least one restaurant as a client. But many restaurants are finding they need a UX designer more than a graphic designer as menus move online.

Large restaurant chains such as McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Panera started by replacing cashiers and order-takers with apps and touch-screen kiosks, and smaller restaurants and chains are now following suit. Touch-screen ordering creates opportunities for UX designers to play a role in shaping the experience consumers have within the restaurant. UX design is playing an increasing role of how clients interact with these restaurants and brands. UX of restaurant kiosks and menus impacts ordering efficiency, accuracy, up-selling, and brand satisfaction. A successful user experience can improve a restaurant’s bottom-line, making the investment in kiosks worthwhile.

Philadelphia-based restaurateur Honeygrow is an example of a smaller restaurant group that relies on touch-screens for their ordering. The clear and modern UX of their ordering process makes it easy to customize meals quickly and easily. Rather than a cashier taking an order for stir-fry, and possibly mixing-up or missing an ingredient, the touch-screen kiosk interface lets the customer directly input the exact ingredients desired. Staff at the restaurant haven’t been replaced by computers, rather they are moved in-front of the counter to help with any questions, improving the overall customer experience. As we teach UX classes in Philadelphia, we found this local example of good UX leading to a great customer experience to be worth sharing.

As a stir-fry restaurant, their success requires that a set of ingredients is assembled and cooked together. A digital ordering process helps to relay directly to the cooks the exact ingredients requested, making a great deal of sense for them to develop an app-focused ordering system. This makes the front of the restaurant look more like an Apple or Microsoft Store than a restaurant, we expect to see the use of apps and kiosks expand as others follow Honeygrow’s lead.

With much of the economy moving to app-based and card-based payments, ordering through a custom-app and kiosk allows for efficient transactions without the risk of cash being lost or stolen. A well-design menu UX for a kiosk improves the speed and accuracy of ordering.

The kiosk’s UX also allows for cross-selling and up-selling. The UX can consistently transition customers to more-profitable options or add-on items to improve the value of each transaction. Rules-based ordering allows for this selling to be customized based upon the items being ordered. A client ordering a one meal may be offered a different item than someone ordering a different entre. Some kiosk developers indicate that restaurant visitors spend at least 10% more when ordering from a kiosk.

While graphic designers were accustomed to updating menus, UX designers create the experience for the restaurants to feature specific items, add new choices, and update menus on their own. As UX is an iterative process, successful restaurants will want to continue to engage with their designers to continue to improve customer’s experience when dining-out.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices. Jennifer holds the CPUX-F credential from the UXQB.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern UX Design, and worked closely with the Microsoft Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including XD, Sketch, Balsamiq, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blend for Visual Studio. She also works extensively in the fields of presentation design and visual design.