The Elevator Button Problem

John Graham-Cumming: The Elevator Button Problem

User interface design is hard. It’s hard because people perceive apparently simple things very differently. For example, take a look at this interface to an elevator:
Now imagine the following situation. You are on the third floor of this building and you wish to go to the tenth. The elevator is on the fifth floor and there’s an indicator that tells you where it is. Which button do you press?
Most people probably say: “press up” since they want to go up. Not long ago I watched someone do the opposite and questioned them about their behavior. They said: “well the elevator is on the fifth floor and I am on the third, so I want it to come down to me”.

One thought on “The Elevator Button Problem”

  1. Have you ever unscrewed an elevator call panel and put it back reversed?
    i.e. the /\ button is now the \/ button and vice-versa? [i have it on
    “good authority” this has happened in Evans Hall here.]
    i think how long that “out-of-equillibrum” condition last and whether the fixer figures out it was reversed and can be solved via unscrew and re-screw or it is seen as a fundamental electrical problem and is solved from scratch would be interesting to see [and what the diagnosis of the problem was].
    –psb

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