Home > Human Factors history and studies > Usability study of cash machines

Usability study of cash machines

Some things in our daily live are hardly recognised. To save energy and attention we realize only the necessary things related to our tasks, to reach the goal interacting with them. One of such things is the cash machine. At a close look a lot of things are standardized, not internationally, but as agreement in the industry. Especially for impaired people or elderly people this is helpful as they can better estimate how to use different functions and where to expect feedback at the automate.

Basic elements of a cash machine: Display, card slot, money slot, number/function keys and (optional) plug for ear-phones.

Card slot: The card slot is typically positioned right of the cash machine indicating its function with a sign above the slot which is typically also presented in Braille. Near the sign is a long horizontal flashing light indicating the status. The length of the flashing light matches the card slot. At the card slot itself contains of a mechanism avoiding instertment of the card in the wrong way. Below are arrows as embossment, easily palpated.
Number/Function keys: First of all the arrangement of the keys is standardized adpoted from telephones (first row 123, second row 456, third row 789 and fourth row – 0 +). Right to the number 3 is the “Abort” key marked red and with the sign “X” typically in Braille. Right to the 6 is the “Correction” key marked in yellow and with the sign “<” typically in Braille. Right to the 9 can be the “Confirm” key marked green and with the sign “O” in Braille or the “Help” key. It is not agreed that the help key shall have an underlying function.


Evaluation results:

Four different cash machines have been evaluated – arrangement, card insert and interaction to get a special amount of money.

A short summary of the evaluation (a detailed version can be provided on request):

Two of the cash-machines had four softkeys right and left of the display. In one case they were not marked and not exactly matched to the selections shown of the display. At least they should match to what is presented on the display to avoid confusion. Keys without any marking are not usable for blind people. At one cash machine they were marked in Braille which seems ok but should be discussed with blind users. In general there seems to be no need, no additional value for this selection buttons or also touch screens. The number of parallel selections could be realized with the number keys indicated with a matching number at the different options on the display. It would avoid a switch of interaction methodology.

Agreements for standardization are implemented, but sometimes not more than that. In none of the tested cash-machines was any feedback from the help key recognizable. In two of the cases there is the slight chance that the function is connected to plugged in ear-phones. However this is irritating for other users who might want to use the function but get no feedback. If there is no functionallity why present the key?

Good thing: all tested cash machines first dropped the card back with acoustic and visual (on display and flashing light at the slot) and afterwards the money also with acoutic and visual feedback. Return of money as first might lead to problems. As it is the goal of the user to get money too likely one might forget to take the card in a hurry.






  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: