Let your finger do the surfing! Navigating web sites using touch screens.
I get a lot of questions about offering web sites on kiosks. More and more, our customers are becoming web savvy and utilizing the web for educational outreach. We are strong believers in not duplicating efforts and for some web applications; their addition to a kiosk is a great idea.
The first question I get is “Can I put a web site on my touch screen kiosk?” The answer is yes, but you may not want to do so. Here are a few things to consider before you make your final decision.
1. Is there a good reason to put the web site(s) on a kiosk? Good reasons include:
a. you have access to valuable educational information on a web site that complements your other exhibits
b. you offer information on your web site that visitors often ask for and by having the web site available, visitors could get what they need without assistance
2. Will visitors need a mouse and/or a keyboard to successfully navigate the web site(s)? Sites that contain search functions and forms probably require a keyboard. Sites with very small buttons, hypertext links*, and pages that scroll vertically or horizontally will probably require a mouse or trackball. You do not want to frustrate your visitors by displaying web pages that can not be used easily. Be aware that using a standard keyboard will give the visitor the ability to close the web browser and access your computer’s desktop and more.
3. Are you offering too much information by offering a web site? In my opinion, a successful kiosk program contains a beginning and an end (or at least a fixed amount of data or time period). Web sites can offer a tremendous amount of information on a subject and can occupy a lot of surfing time. You certainly do not want a visitor using the kiosk for a long period of time, thus keeping others from using it, getting frustrated, etc.
4. Do you have a reliable internet connection? If you plan to connect to a web site using the internet, understand that internet connections, servers, etc. do fail at times. During these times, you will not have access to your kiosk information.
1. Use a touch screen monitor. We highly recommend using touch screens with all of our exhibit programs and kiosks. Touch screens are easy to clean. They are durable. They are novel (most home computers do not have a touch screen display).
a. The best way to put a web site on a kiosk with a touch screen is to create a web site specifically designed for touch screen use (i.e. large buttons, no scrolling, etc.)
b. Use a touch screen web browser. We offer SiteKiosk web browsing software. They are a leader in touch screen web browsing and offer a product with many useful features (like finger sized scroll buttons, on-screen keyboard, etc).
2. If you must use a mouse and/or a keyboard, get a vandal proof model. We offer several models of vandal proof equipment and although they are expensive, they are well worth the expense. Most vandal proof keyboards allow you to disable keys that will allow access to other applications on your computer.
3. If at all possible, copy the web site to the hard drive of the computer and do not use your internet connection. Most web sites will work better if run from a local drive. This also requires no internet connection and is not dependent on phone lines, cables, web servers, etc.
4. If you must use an internet connection to access the web site, get software that will allow you to block web sites that you don’t want accessed. You do not want visitors checking stock quotes, making travel plans or even checking their email on your kiosk. SiteKiosk will also allow you to control the usage of your web browsing kiosk.
5. Offer other educational content on the kiosk. We highly recommend adding one of our point2explore games or programs to a kiosk that offers a web site. Not only does this offer more variety in content, it also will allow for the kiosk’s use if your internet connection goes down.
Finally, be critical of the web sites you consider for your exhibits. They can be a great resource of educational content and an easy, inexpensive interactive experience for your visitors. We at point2explore have experience in setting up kiosks for all types of use and would love to help with your upcoming projects. Visit www.point2explore.com for information.
- Hypertext links are the text links found in many web sites within bodies of copy and are usually identified in blue with an underline.
CD Meyer, Inc./point2explore