Interacting with public displays

In Lyon’s largest mall at la Part Dieu, the maps are interactive displays. It’s the first time I felt the genuine need to use such displays. I took some time to look at people interacting with them :

  • They had lots of users.
  • The role of the public displays in the mall is clear, they replace traditional maps. No need to do fancy things to attract people, just but a some big signage, they come. On the other hand, I’ve been through multiple airports (i.e. Munich, Bordeaux) offering public displays and did not see anybody using them (last photo). In airports signage is usually good and you’ve got your boarding path with your personal info at hand. Until you come to the display you have no idea what they offer, and once you’re there you realize they don’t offer much…
  • Public displays but personal use. People queue and use the displays the one after the other. The displays can only deal with one user, so others are left behind.
  • The design is decent but really literal. The system does not really leverage its digital capabilities: I was looking for lenses’ liquid, looking up for the word lens didn’t turn any result. Search is keyword based.
  • It takes quite a while to navigate and get to your answer, so some people give up waiting. If the design was improved the turn over would be higher.
  • People do not look particularly excited when interacting with the displays, if there  ever was a novely effect if wore out pretty quickly.

All this to say, that I sometimes wonder at all the literature trying to make generic claims on public displays. It really seems to me a case where situation, content and design have a strong impact on the interaction.