here is our current design of Mobile Point of Sale (MPOS) UI for the Gratuity (leaving tips if simple). MPOS is that device that you see mostly in supermarket when paying by card (small screen, card reader, buttons for up-down navigation, buttons for PIN entry). Like this:

enter image description here

Here we are adding UI screen/page to be able to leave tips also, e.g. at restaurant

So customer has small device before him, list of elements is displayed as described below (example1), first item is selected by default (highlighted), user can navigate up/down using arrow buttons, user can press "green OK" button to select item

The dilemma is:

  1. If "No tip" is selected by default (example 1), then many customers will simply press OK and proceed without leaving tips. That is bad for the merchant (less tips)

  2. If some percentage is selected by default (example 2), then some customers will simply press OK and leave tips unintentionally. That is bad for the customer

  3. If some "unclickable" line is added to the first line (example 3) to force customer make explicit deliberate decision, then it will be probably bad for User Experience, because up-down navigation will be required. But this can be good for the merchant, probably more tips

Example 1, "no tip" by default

No tip (highlighted)
10%, <calculated amount>
15%, <calculated amount>
20%, <calculated amount>
Custom tip amount

Example 2, percentage selected by default

No tip
10%, <calculated amount> (highlighted)
15%, <calculated amount>
20%, <calculated amount>
Custom tip amount

Example 3, non-clickable item by default

<...> (highlighted)
No tip
10%, <calculated amount>
15%, <calculated amount>
20%, <calculated amount>
Custom tip amount

What are your thoughts regarding this?

  • This is a US-only solution, right? If you had to cater for i18n a proper answer would differ substantially. – Crissov Dec 3 '14 at 15:56
  • If an answer works for you, you should probably accept it. – Sonny Dec 15 '14 at 20:07

Tipping varies wildly between countries, and even between industries.

I would suggest two alternatives:

  1. If possible, have the operator cofigure the menu according to his particular indusry's customs. Perhaps he could choose between placing the "No tip" item at the top or at the bottom (I think it's usually very inappropriate not to tip, or very uncommon to tip. Not a lot of middle ground, so first option for tipping-industries and last option for non-tipping-industries should be ok.
  2. Perhaps stronger wording can dissuade user from auto-choosing the "No tip" item. If the label read

    I don't want to leave a tip

    I believe it would be harder for the user to choose. If this sort of wording is an option, it's worth considering.

  • 1
    Even when its inappropriate to not leave a tip, being presumptuous can turn a good tipper into a resentful tipper. – Andrew Hoffman Dec 3 '14 at 20:56
  • @Andrew Hoffman Not sure I understand what you mean. Could you please elaborate? – Navot Dec 4 '14 at 2:01
  • If you presume that tipping is appropriate and force someone into a position where they have to make the decision not to tip, in order to keep the atmosphere normal, they have to tip. God forbid they overcome the pressure and do not tip, now everybody is uncomfortable, and you've probably lost a customer forever. – Andrew Hoffman Dec 8 '14 at 23:19
  • I understand. This is indeed a delicate social issue. However, UX will always be a gradient of probability and convenience, so I'm still under the impression it's better to lose a (rare, under my assumption) non-conformist tipper than to lose good business due to bad UX – Navot Dec 8 '14 at 23:24

It looks like you can't do much to make this easier. If these are the only options you have than I would go for option 1 and leave it up to the seller to explain the tipping function. Your option #2 is misleading and #3 is confusing.

Explaining the tipping function can be done in a very approachable way:

Press the arrows to choose a tip if you will and press ok when you are done.

The seller will not have to know what the customer did so it doesn't have to be pushy.


I wouldn't display "No Tip" as an option in a list of tip amounts, that is a form of social pressure.

To avoid social pressure, do not require the user to say yes or no, in this way by not taking any action, the decision is to not leave a tip.

One idea might be to provide a button at the bottom when reviewing the total payment. "would you like to leave a tip?"

Selecting the option to leave a tip could take you to the tip workflow, and afterwards return you to the total charge review, where now it would allow you to edit the tip.

But having the decision to leave a tip as a required acknowledgement in the workflow can cause social pressure and possibly make the user feel resentful.

Just a thought.

  • yes, it's pressure. If you have pressure - then its better for merchants/waiters, if you have no pressure - then its better for clients. So here is the dilemma that you cannot produce software that is best for both of them – user57910 Dec 10 '14 at 14:03

This totally depends on your culture. In some regions/countries, tipping is seen as normal whereas in other areas, tipping is totally up to the customers and not taken as an offend it a customer doesn't tip (some places in europe e.g.)

So depending on your culture I'd go with option 1 or 2.

  • feature is made for UK merchants – user57910 Dec 3 '14 at 16:17

I personally like the table checkout at Chili's Restaurants. They use Ziosk.

Once you've swiped your card, you're taken to a tip selection screen. If I recall correctly, 20% is selected by default. To not leave a tip, you have to move the slider to zero. You then click "Tip This Amount" to get to the signature step. I feel that making the tip selection an interactive step decreases the likelihood of accidental tip selection, while encouraging customers to leave a tip.

Here's a photo from their checkout process which shows the tip selection step:

Chili's Ziosk Checkout: Tip Selection

  • in your photo there is touchscreen, and therefore no default selection. in my case it's old-school simple screen with the up-down buttons for navigation and default selected item the question is much about - what should we select by default? – user57910 Dec 3 '14 at 14:59
  • I'm pretty sure that 20% is selected by default. You'd have to move the slider to zero in order to leave no tip. It would probably be best to make the default percent a configurable option. – Sonny Dec 3 '14 at 15:58
  • I sure would like an explanation for the down-vote. – Sonny Dec 3 '14 at 16:00
  • 1
    not me downvoting, your suggestion of Ziosk is very useful. video made year ago youtube.com/watch?v=zZNVZl8aNJg indicates that that version had "Add tip" as fully optional, because "Swipe Card" was activated right after "Pay Check" was requested. of course it can happen that "Add tip" UI is activated after the card was swiped... – user57910 Dec 3 '14 at 16:15
  • Yes, as soon as you swipe the card, you're taken to the tip screen. You have to move the slider to zero to not pay a tip. – Sonny Dec 3 '14 at 16:19

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