The Ziosk tablet has a 7-inch Android touch screen and sits on each individual table at a restaurant. You can find them at any Chili’s, Olive Garden or Red Robin restaurants to name a few. Ziosk is revolutionizing the experience and economics of the $472 billion restaurant industry. Winner of the 2015 Tech Titan Emerging Company Innovation award.


The Ziosk is primarily used for paying for your meal without your credit card ever leaving the table. It has a printer for receipts and makes for a better dining experience. You can browse appetizers, drinks, desserts and play games.


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One of the primary objectives of the business was to increase game conversion. When I started, the gaming model was in its infancy. There was only a handful of games to play. Now there are 30+ games that you can play for $1.99. You pay once, and play them all.


Also, I want the reader to understand that Ziosk does user testing and collects analytical data to help make informative decisions on how to best meet the consumer needs and business goals and expectations. Using those metrics played a key role in my decision process on how to approach this project. I also believe the single most helpful tool was learning from what did not work. Now back to it.


In this case study I will be sharing details about my journey and the impact it had on the company.


Getting people to pay for the games proved very difficult. There would be all kinds of visually interesting promotions we would create. There were dozens of strategic user flows and approaches that didn’t make much impact. Conversion remained virtually the same regardless of what game we promoted and how we promoted it. If we were ever going to increase conversion, we had to start thinking differently.


Portion of a game promotion designed to show depth of games Ziosk has to offer.



I would often visit restaurants to observe and talk to people using the Ziosk device (guerrilla usability testing). I quickly learned that kids were the primary users playing games. Most of the time, ages 18+ were only using the device to either browse the menu or pay for their meal. But for the most part, adults ignored the device. Reaching kids would never be an issue. In order to increase conversion we would have to find a way to reach the older audience, which would prove challenging to say the least. This is where my journey really began.


I started to ask myself of series of questions.


How do I grab your attention?

Just getting someone to look at the screen is the first step. But more than half the people in the restaurant weren’t even looking at the tablet, it was mostly being ignored. If no one is looking, it really doesn’t matter what your selling.


Once I have your attention, how do I keep it?

A lot of things can get a person’s attention. But with so many distractions already in play, how do I keep your attention long enough to sell my product?


Now I have your attention; what reasoning must I give for you to pursue my product?

People don’t go to restaurants to play games, they are there to eat and talk. And less than an hour at that. I’m competing for a short window of the user’s time, attention and money. That is going to take some real convincing. I have my work cut out for me.



By focusing on a game that would enhance the dining experience and not take away from it, the game would need to be communal. Which was the purpose for creating the game ZTrivia. Most of the other games on the device did the opposite, they essentially isolated you. That’s probably why a lot of parents don’t mind their kids playing, it gives them a break and keeps the kids distracted and quiet. Good? Bad? Maybe both?

ZTrivia game screen.


The game was really fun! People love to put their knowledge to the test, and learning new things is stimulating. The questions are updated weekly, so the game stays fresh. And people were playing together, not just one person. So, I started thinking of ways to get people to see what I saw; a game that was worth playing while eating at the restaurant. Trivia is a game that everyone at the table could participate in. Win-Win!


In order to show real value I would need to share it. I began to think of the promo and the game as a whole. The promo would be a game to start the ball rolling, after 10 seconds the question would time out and the next screen would house the call to action to keep playing which included the price point. Touching continue would launch the game.


Breaking Away From The Standard

Now, for good measure, I would like to compare my concept with the conventional methods we were using. The standard conversion process is actually broken up into 3 steps.


Step 1, the user touches the promotion which takes them to the games landing screen. This is a disconnect. In a way, it would be like starting the process over again. There are several reasons why this was the standard, reasons beyond my control.


Step 2, from the games landing screen the user must navigate to the game you want to play.


Step 3, touching the game icon will launch a popup alerting the user they are about to pay for the game. Finally, after touching “Let’s Play” they are now playing the game that was being advertised. In other words, the promo-to-game process is fragmented and the user has to deliberately and intentionally be set on playing. Now back to it, again 🙂


I was now ready to answer my series of questions I asked myself earlier.


Does it grab your attention?

I chose vibrant colors; the game had a countdown timer that gave a sense of urgency; and content simple enough to be understood within just a matter of seconds.

I wanted to find familiar but likable context, and animals were a good fit. I found a cat and cow question that I thought would accomplish my goals best.


Does it keep your attention?

I chose questions that were super short, but thought-provoking. Countdown timer still in play. Satisfaction factor: a chance to get the question right.


Does it give you a reason to pay money to play the game?

My goal was to make the promo transition to the real game as seamless as possible. I wanted it to feel as if the real game was a continuation of the promotional game as I previously explained.

Final storyboard for Cow Promo


It was now time to field test my concepts. Within a day or two the results were in. We did it!


There was an unprecedented 18-20% spike in conversion across the board. Since 2013, the two trivia game promotions internally code-named “Cat & Cow” are still working hard for Ziosk. There have been countless iterations and evolutions of the promos, but all of them have made the revenue drop. The original Cat and Cow promos have remained unchallenged for over 3 years.


Long live Cat & Cow!

Final storyboard for Cat Promo