It's Hip to be Square
Kiosk design interview with Gary Steele
10 Squared works with other parties to design bespoke solutions that compliment their environment. The company also received the 2011 EAFS award for Best Design. We spoke to Gary Steele, Product Development Manager, to find out what goes into their award-winning designs.
Kiosk Europe: What role does your company play in the design process?
Gary Steele: We're the prime movers but on occassion, where a project dictates, we work with some leading design and branding companies including SaatchiX, Rawls, Pearson Lloyd, Air design, Momentum Signs and The Velvet Principle to produce bespoke solutions in keeping with and complimentary to the environment which they are intended.
KE: So they'll generally give you a concept for the general look of the enclosure?
GS: It varies but we ideally like to get involved at the initial stages of the project to ensure that any provisional concepts take into account the varying requirements that the integration of the technology demands. We'll then engineer a designed solution to the agreed concept ensuring we stay as closely as technologically possible to the initial design ethic.
KE: Do you come across difficulties with integrating certain components? For example, if the concept is very slim but you need to include a printer that wouldn't normally fit in the given space.
GS: Yes, it can be difficult and ther has to be a realisation of the limitationsand this is why we like to be included at the initial stages of a project. Obviously there are certain peripherals tat can'tbe reduced in size, but we realised early in the development of 10 Squared as a company that if we could integrate technology from component level, as well as giving us a lot more control of service & maintenance, it would give us a lot more design freedom. So, for instance, rather than trying to integrate an off the shelf desktop PC we design and build our own industrial PCs (from motherboard/hard drive level) to suit a particular application.
KE: Having arrived at a feasible concept, how do you go about making a kiosk approachable and user-friendly?
GS: A lot of it really comes down to the design. As a rule of thumb, we generally say that the first 15 seconds of the user experience is where we come in – that crucial window of time where someone sees the product and is drawn to it. Once they're engaged with the software or the content that's actually on the kiosk, it doesn't really matter what the kiosk looks like because they're totally immersed in the software.
As menitoned previously, in addition to designing our own range of products, we work with design and brand management companies tat come up with an overall concept for the environment to which the technology/kiosk elements need to fit. The successful achievement of this is, we believe, crucial to the technology's acceptance.All too often you see kiosks with a very standard design that look totally out of context. People won't engage with it because they dobn't know if it's really for them to use. That's why a lot of the projects that we do have bespoke designs to suit specific environments.
KE: That’s certainly true of your designs at the Westfield shopping centre. There’s no doubt that they’re there to be used by the public.
GS: Yes, they have a contemporary look that fits with everything else that's in the environment. It's part of the centre, rather than just a kiosk or information point that's been placed there. It doesn't look out of place and that's a key example of our approach.
KE: Several of your solutions are combined with static signage. What’s the benefit?
GS: It really depends on the environment but we believe a balance of digital and static signage is probably the best route in most scenarios. Making signage digital for the sake of it is just not practical from a cost point of view if that particular piece of information tat you are displaying is unlikely to change in the short to medium term. This is why we believe there will always be a place for static signage.
KE: Why? We all know that there can be reliability concerns with digital solutions; is it to provide a back up?
GS: Not at all. Through years of continued development and improvement together with the selecting of specific industrial components, we have virtually eradicated the majority of reliability issues previously associated with digital technology. For general information like the location of services or customer amenities which viirtually never change, we believe that people will and should always go with static signage. Digital should work hand in hand with static. A key strength of digital signage is that you can change the information more easily and more often. It can be continually updated and, in a retail environment, show variousx offers throughout the centre together with interactive wayfinding, which static can never achieve.
KE: Does implementing a stunning bespoke solution rather than a simple box one have an impact on the cost?
GS: Yes, but that's mainly down to the materials being used and the complexity of manufacture. It's obviously quite simple to make a square box, but to make something with a free form design involves a lot more design, manufacturing and engineering capabilties. There is a difference, but it's probably not as great as you'd imagine. It's difficult to put a figure on because it depends on so many factors but we'd encourage people to explore the possibilities rather than settling for a more dated or traditionally designed product.
KE: Why should people come to you for a kiosk solution?
GS: We've been in this industry for 15 years and are the only kiosk solutions provider in Europe to employ 3 full time designerstogether with our in houseproject management, CNC fabrication, metal finishing, PC build and assembly facilities. We employ 24 skilled engineers and techinicians dedicated to providing either standard or bespoke designed technology products and have, we believe, an unparalleled pedigree in this field.
Essentially we are a hardware designer, manufacturer and installer and we prefer to work alongside specialist software and content companies to provide a total solution. We believe this gives the opportunity to the end user to achieve a "best of breed" solution because they can have the best kiosk, designed how they like it with whatever software or content they prefer.
We want people to understand that they have a choice, if they want it, to create can a designed range of products that can cover the whole remit of applications. Whether it's interactive, transactional & full cash handling or digital signage they can be based around a consistent design and linked together by that design. Ultimately, it's the design that connects the kiosk to its environment or brand and entices the user to engage and interact.
Monday, May 14, 2012