Did The Elevator Need A UI Redesign?
from the who-knew! dept
Many years ago, when I was a kid running around Manhattan getting into various degrees of trouble, a friend of mine taught me a valuable lesson. If you're in need of a bathroom in midtown, go to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. You just head up to the fifth floor and there's one of the nicest public restrooms you'll ever find. It's bound to beat any random place you walk into off the street. I've used that trick on multiple occasions, but apparently it's become much, much trickier sometime recently. A lot of blogging folks are at a conference in New York at the Marriott Marquis, and it's absolutely hilarious to read the various different accounts of what appears to be the most poorly designed elevator interface ever imagined (so bad that even Hollywood stars are swearing about it!). The details on this supposedly "revolutionary" new elevator control system are a perfect case study in pointless UI design. First off, was there really a problem with existing elevator UI design? It seemed that most people figured out the system just fine, and found that it was quite efficient. However, the folks at one (oddly famous) elevator company decided to start from scratch and basically screw everyone up. The system apparently works by requiring passengers to punch in their floor of choice before they enter the elevator. That is, instead of punching the up or down button, you're required to give your exact floor. The elevator system then tries to schedule (not particularly well, from the descriptions) how to best process your request and gives you a cryptic symbol telling you which elevator to use. Once you're inside of the elevator, you no longer have any control over it -- you're stuck with your pre-determined destination, so make sure you don't get in the wrong elevator. The claim from the elevator company is that it helps process people faster and more efficiently (especially during heavy use times) by avoiding the mad rush for any open elevator. Of course, the amount of lost time and confusion from riders seems to have eaten away at any such efficiencies (especially in a hotel where the majority of elevator takers are likely to be visitors rather than regulars). You would think the hotel would realize this when they apparently needed to designate an entire TV channel in the hotel to explaining how their elevators worked. Maybe they just did this to keep the trouble making kids like myself from sneaking up to the 5th floor restrooms.