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MTA Maintenance Kiosk app

Usability and UX were destined to be big challenges from the start of this project: to meet mandatory customer IT requirements, it had to be built on Windows XP.

Ultimately though, it wasn’t built on XP – it became XP itself! In other words, we took apart Microsoft’s interface and desktop user experience, used the majority of XP’s inner workings, coded a bunch of parts that were needed, and then built a touch screen UI and modern experience in the form of a new front end.

The video (above) sums up the project and its challenges, but here are additional points to consider:

Building a new front end for an OS (someone else’s OS) is a major effort. There is no direct documentation on how to do it, especially with what was already an antique operating system. Nevertheless, the client’s requirements were both that we utilize XP and that we create a user-friendly system that was engaging and motivating.

Not easy because the intended user’s (train mechanics) union rep officially voiced an objection to learning a new system. So a big part of my role on the project was to transform potentially routine software into a new, engaging, intuitive application, by performing suitable user research, developing a project feasibility analysis, distilling the interface design down to a three touch maximum navigation, composing spec’s for UX/UI/app functionality, and designing/engineering a prototype kiosk enclosure as well.

So, the 46″ flat-screen kiosk operates as if it were a giant wall-mounted iPad. A flick slides the main menu on-screen. Only one to three touches enables a user to do just about anything, launching 3rd party applications, video conferencing, calling a supervisor, adjusting volume, etc. HUI is incorporated in the form of facial recognition as an alternative log-on to an RFID card swipe.

It worked extraordinarily well:

  • the client was delighted seeing their vision become reality
  • it requires no training to understand the interface
  • it overcame objections from users (subway train mechanics) that weren’t interested in another system
  • it won a 2012 User Experience Award (UXie)

Jason Lurz, Director of Operations, MTA

...the second iteration of the MTA kiosk application in which he directed the development, not only did Ken surpass the MTA’s expectations, but he was recognized by his peers with a User Experience Award.


  • Client


  • Platform


  • My contributions

    UX design, requirements documentation, information architecture, wireframing, personas, journey mapping, project management, stakeholder management/relations, team lead

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