How to: Elevator


After an extended shopping tour you are standing with your full shopping cart at the elevator and just want to get to your car, which is two floors below you. Sou you stand at the elevator and are faced with a extremely complex user interface whit which evil designers expect you too operate the elevator. That is the feeling i get sometimes!

Lets look at this situation as a normal person. You stand in-front of an elevator. There are two buttons on the wall, one with and up arrow and one with an down arrow. Which one to press? My brain goes: I want to get two floors down into the garage, so I should press the down button. Sound logical right? If you want to go down press the down button, if you want to go up press the up button. No it’s not! Because there are people who are in the same situation and press the wrong button. Why is that?

My first suspect was the user interface itself. But there is not much of an UI to criticize. And to be honest I can’t see how to make it simple. So there has to be another cause for the “misunderstanding”. Once in the same situation I asked the person pressing the wrong button why he did so. And his answer really surprised me. He thought that he has to tell the elevator to come down.

That was a surprise. I find this way of thinking quite funny because of the following:

  1. Why should the user know the location of the elevator (he has to at least know if the elevator is above or below him)?
  2. Why would the manufacturer of the elevator expect the user to know the location of the elevator?

I have no answer to those questions as does the person pressing the wrong button. So to finish this off please stop pressing the wrong button!

And there is something in there for developers to. Regardless of the simplicity of the user interface there will be people that will just not get it.

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