McDonald's Self-Serve Kiosks

In 2017, McDonald's announced an "Experience of the Future" initiative to add new technology to the restaurant experience with mobile ordering, self-order kiosks, and table delivery. I conducted an ethnography study to observe how customers interact with the self-order kiosks at a McDonald's restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.

The Goals:

  • What are the kiosks’ successes/failures for the customer in the restaurant environment
  • What type of customers use the kiosk instead of ordering from a cashier?
  • What are the successes/failures of the UX/UI of the kiosk software for the customer?
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Key Findings and Recommendations

1. The software prompts the customer to input a table number, but the kiosks didn't have any table number cards.

Recommendation: Remove the step for the customer to input the table card number. Have them receive an order number and pick up at the pick-up station, or make the software flexible for each restaurant’s service.

Customer Impact: High

2. Users (including an employee) spent a lot of time reading and interpreting the kiosk menu.

Recommendation: Do an audit on the kiosk UI and look for legibility issues and areas for faster reading and understanding. Make it consistent with the drive-thru and cashier menus.

Customer Impact: Medium

3. This McDonald's location had a lot of Spanish-speaking customers. All users looked at the screen in English and spent a long time reading.

Recommendation: Provide language options for users.

Customer Impact: Low

These recommendations are rated on an impact scale. Items rated high can contribute to the user’s inability to perform critical functions within the site. Items rated medium can contribute to errors or frustration. Items rated low are minor nuisances, but do not affect the user’s ability to perform critical interactions on the site.

Key Findings and Recommendations

1. The software prompts the customer to input a table number, but the kiosks didn't have any table number cards.

Recommendation: Remove the step for the customer to input the table card number. Have them receive an order number and pick up at the pick-up station, or make the software flexible for each restaurant’s service.

Customer Impact: High

2. Users (including an employee) spent a lot of time reading and interpreting the kiosk menu.

Recommendation: Do an audit on the kiosk UI and look for legibility issues and areas for faster reading and understanding. Make it consistent with the drive-thru and cashier menus.

Customer Impact: Medium

3. This McDonald's location had a lot of Spanish-speaking customers. All users looked at the screen in English and spent a long time reading.

Recommendation: Provide language options for users.

Customer Impact: Low

These recommendations are rated on an impact scale. Items rated high can contribute to the user’s inability to perform critical functions within the site. Items rated medium can contribute to errors or frustration. Items rated low are minor nuisances, but do not affect the user’s ability to perform critical interactions on the site.

The Methodology

I conducted the test on Sunday, February 26, 2018 at 1:30-2:30pm.
The methodology used was observation and note-taking. I did not interact with the participants so I could observe what they did naturally. I acted as a natural customer to blend into the environment by ordering food and sitting at a table with a clear view of the kiosk screen. There were 5 kiosk screens in the restaurant, and I chose the one because I saw one person interact with it. By chance, participants mainly interacted with this screen. I made sure to not stare or make it known to participants that I was taking notes about them.

Participant Details

User 1: Latino male, 30's. Regular customer. Possibly homeless. 
Insight: Used the kiosk with ease. This shows customers are able to learn the UX pattern.

User 2: Two Latino males, teens - early 20’s. 
Insight: Reviewed the kiosk for less than a minute, but chose to order at the cashier.

User 3: Latina female, 30-40's. Employee.
Insight: Spent a long time reading, even though it might not have been her first time using the kiosk.

User 4: Five Latina females, pre-teen to middle aged.
Insight: Spent about 5 minutes ordering with lots of conversation and helped each other read and interpret the menu.

Detailed Findings

 

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The software prompts the customer to input a table number, but the kiosks didn't have any table number cards.

Recommendation: Remove the step for the customer to input the table card number. Have them receive an order number and pick up at the pick-up station, or make the software flexible for each restaurant’s service.

Customer Impact: High

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The table number cards were by the cashier, but it is unclear how they were being used.

All customers received a receipt with an order number and picked up their food at the pick-up station once their number was called.

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The kiosks need regular maintenance.

When I entered the restaurant, two of the five kiosks were down, and one did not have printer paper. 

Other Observations

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The digital menu behind the screen rotates menu sections, images, and calorie counts. The length of time between each screen is about 6 seconds. The menu sections that are not always shown are:

  • Sweets & Treats
  • Everyday Value
  • Ice-Cold Drinks
  • Fries & Sides
  • Salads

While images and calorie counts are not important enough to the average user to wait, I recommend that all menu items be shown at all times. When there is even one section that is rotating, it is confusing and makes the user re-evaluate all menu items.

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Street entrance

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Parking lot entrance

The kiosks were very visible upon entry and well-placed in the restaurant. The top edge of the screen is quite high. I observed the employee (about 5' tall or under) try to reach for the back button on the top right of the screen, and she could not. She was able to navigate through the left-side menu to continue her order. 

The restaurant felt very spacious and clean. People were spending a lot of time sitting and it felt like a hangout spot. There were a few family groups that dined together. Generally, the mood was casual and enjoyable.