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ATMs: History and ATM Screens Design

ATM UX Design - Yellowchalk

Introduction to ATMs

ATMs or automated teller machines are computerized instruments that provide the clients of a bank with access to transactions in a public space without the need for a cashier, human clerk, or bank teller.

ATMs, even in the advent of the digital age, have not found themselves irrelevant. They are still a requirement due to their ease of use, reliability, and the fact that they can be of service to bank customers across the world.

A device like an ATM was born out of necessity as banks are not institutions open for their clients 24×7. ATMs come in handy as they are open 24×7, reduce cost and dependency for the bank while providing the people with the services that they need at their disposal i.e. money at any time. Now let us take a look at the history of ATMs.

History of ATM

History of ATM UI - Yellowchalk Design

By the 1960s, several teams around the world were working independently to devise a method for withdrawing cash from a bank after hours without committing a crime.

In 1960, an American named Luther George Simjian invented the Bankograph, a machine that allowed customers to deposit cash and checks into it.

The first ATM, however, is credited to a different inventor. It was set up in June 1967 on a street in Enfield, London at a branch of Barclays Bank and was invented by a British inventor named John Shepherd-Barron. There is a rumor that the invention of the ATM was inspired by the same mechanics as a candy vending machine. The machine allowed customers to withdraw a maximum of 10 British pounds at a time.

It was not until 53 years ago in 1967 that customers began to experience self-service ATMs, which are in common use today. Self-service machines were defined by the non-requirement of any bank employee for a transaction and allowed you to use the ATM at any time of the day.

ATM Screens and Design

Banks are known for having massive amounts of customers/users. These users come from all backgrounds, ages, gender, religion, country, etc. Their main goal is to help users complete their objective of dispensing cash and doing so quickly and without any hurdles.

User research and analysis suggest the following hassles that customers usually face while using ATMs.

  1. Too many screens: The journey of submitting a transaction at an ATM involves many screens transitioning. The more screens there are involved in the journey the less likely the user will remember their user journey the next time they use the machine, which indicates an increased cognitive load.
  2. Inconsistency: An inconsistent user experience can discourage users from following through with the task. Most customers are agile only at making the transactions they always make, however when they need to make another type of transaction, they feel lost and take their time to read instructions.
  3. Hard to reverse: To Undo any function, there is screen transition involved which usually leads the users to an unfamiliar screen. Because financial transactions are sensitive in nature, when customers don’t land where they expect, they prefer to start over from the beginning for safety reasons.
  4. Inconsistency across devices: Since the UI/UX design is not consistent throughout ATM screens of different banks, this leads to a new learning curve for the customer each time they go into a different ATM although they are performing the same action. This can also lead to confusion and errors as the customers might have their regular interface in mind while performing the same actions, leading to them advancing in a different action than what they intended.

The ideal ATM User Experience

Any product which has a massive user base like an ATM should always provide users with a consistent, hassle-free experience despite the age group they fall into. Below, we are looking at some simple steps that can be followed during the design process to make the user experience an ideal one for any customer:

  1. Minimalist: The axiom of “Less is More” applies very well while designing ATM screens. To have the design be as simple as possible is a luxury. Avoid screen transitions and animations that may distract or confuse customers. The lesser they have to see or go through, the more they will retain.
Minimalist UI Design - Yellowchalk
  1. Intuitive: The design should be structured in a way that guides the user to the next step. If you need to provide extensive instructions to let the users know what to do next, then maybe the problem is not the user but the design and the lack of intuitiveness built into the design. A great design should explain itself and the users should figure out what they need to be without getting overwhelmed with information or instructions. Users should not have to learn how to use it.
Intuitive UX for ATM Design - Yellowchalk
  1. Inclusive: It’s always a good idea to avoid any current or future trend if your product has an extensive user base. The trick is to keep the design basic and classic. The meaning of the word Inclusive is “Made for Everyone”, which means users of any age, gender, religion, and ethnicity. Ask yourself every step of the way if the design being created would cater to a 70-year-old woman from the outskirts of the city just as well as a tech-savvy teenager living in a metropolitan city. Remember that you aren’t your user, and back yourself with data and user research to strive for true inclusivity.
Inclusive UX Design - Yellowchalk
  1. Transparent: Transparency is an extremely important facet of UI/UX design. Transparency becomes necessary if there are numbers involved and even more so if the user’s money is in question. The amount to be withdrawn should always be shown in the center of the screen to avoid possible errors and the amount remaining in the user’s account should also be displayed in a bold, legible font. The design should make it impossible for the user to misread or get confused due to a lack in the design process.
Reduce Cognitive Overload - Yellowchalk
  1. Consistency: The human brain is wired to understand and look for patterns. The sole purpose of an ATM is not only to withdraw cash but also to view account balance, change the ATM pin, and more. The user journey for each function should be consistent. If the ATM is asking for the customer’s pin number on the second step when they are withdrawing cash, it should also ask for the pin number on the second step when they are viewing their account balance or performing some other function. If the right-hand corner button is the ‘YES’ command button and the left-hand corner button is the ‘NO’ command button, they should be the same in all interactions and scenarios a customer might encounter on an ATM screen. A consistent user journey, consistent elements, consistent patterns, and consistent interaction lessen the cognitive load on the users hence making the user journey smooth and easy to recall.
Consistency in Design - Yellowchalk

Yellowchalk Insights

A world leader in consumer transactions approached us to improve the experience of their ATM screens while adhering to the hardware specification for ATM machines. From our extensive user research and analysis, we learnt that users have a synonymous experience with ATMs the world over. All user interactions with ATMs need to be quick, clear to the point of no confusion and should have a high success rate.

Case Study - ATM Screen Design - Yellowchalk

We designed an experience using a layout with 8 buttons common to ATMs in fixed positions and created our strategy with an aim to enable users to easily access the function they wanted on the main screen.

Read the full project brief here:


Even though ATMs are very popular in the country, they still have a long way to go. Business historian and expert on cash economies Batiz-Lazo pointed out that the ratio of ATMs to the population in India is still way below global norms. There is plenty of scope to expand the area that ATMs cover especially considering the low amount of ATMs once we leave the metropolitan cities.