Lately I recognized a usability limitation in the control interface of an elevator that I use often. The elevator doors tend to close very slow. Naturally people want to make the process faster and press the button in the elevator interface that closes the doors. However, the button to call the service is placed between the buttons to "close door" and to "open door" (sketch below). All three buttons are very close together. As I went to work this morning still feeling sleepy, I nearly pressed the service button. Fortunately recognized the mistake in time. I wonder how often the service is accidentally called at one day.
The department which I work for moved in another building. The building consists of three interconnected houses (or three single houses if you ignore the connecting way). Each house is similar in design. The design integrates an easy fire escape route, but does not integrate the fire safety concept well.
One side of a house consists of big open offices and the other side of meeting rooms and smaller offices for higher management. I'm working in one of the big offices. It is the room right to the kitchen in the sketch below. The office can be accessed through two doors, both of them are fire doors. Each level has two kitchens and two restrooms that are located in the opposite corner of a house. The nearest kitchen for my office is the one marked in yellow in the sketch below. The nearest printers are on the other side (left) of the kitchen. People working in my office need to go through the fire door and pass by the kitchen to access the nearest printers. So the nearest kitchen and printers for people in my office are located behind the fire door. Following, the fire door towards the kitchen is used many times each day. According to safety standards the fire door is self-closing. Whenever it closes it results in a specific noise. I can only imagine that people sitting in the vicinity of the door feel disturbed by that noise and leave the fire door open. More exactly, I have hardly seen the door closed. Leaving a fire door open is of course contra productive to the fire door's purpose.Positively, the escape route leads through the staircase in front of the kitchen which is a common way to enter or exit the building. Integrating an escape route in a common way in the building layout is a preferred design. People are already familiar with such a way and can easier orientate themselves in an emergency situation, compared to an escape route that is not typically used.
- whether the water flow starts manually or automatically via motion sensor. Automatic taps are can be indicated by an icon with a hand and two lines marking the motion sensor)
- whether the water temperature can be adjusted (photo below, 2 and 3) or is fixed (photo below 4)
- how to adjust the temperature (adjustment before the water flows through rotation of the button on top in photo 2 or while the water flows through movement of the handle in warm or cold direction in photo 3)
- in case it works manually, how to start the water flow (push the handle (photo below, 2) or pull the handle (photo below, 3) or rotating of the handle in (photo below, 4))
Recently I got trapped in a revolving door. If you have read Don Norman's "Design of everyday things", you already know that doors as simple as their design appears can be a rich source of usability limitations. My experience starts with a night out. After a wonderful dinner at a restaurant, we wanted to go to a cocktail bar. As I was short of money I wanted to withdraw some from a cash machine. The entrance was a huge revolving door (upper photo). The door consisted of two large segments. Just as I wanted to get in some people came out of the revolving door. It was still moving, so I quickly jumped in the empty half.
The door moved further, but suddenly stopped in the middle where it was not possible to reach any exit. I waited a bit, but nothing happened. Then I tried pushing the door unsuccessfully and I started feeling slightly nervous - What are you supposed to do when you get stuck in the middle of a revolving door at night when no one is around? A thorough look around revealed a green sign on the center post in the middle of the revolving door (left photo). The sign appeared to show that something needs to be pushed in order to open the door. So I tried pushing the in different directions and locations, but nothing happened. I felt helpless. Then I discovered another sign (right photo). Red letters on a white background - it looked like an alarm sign, but showed the promising word "Door opener". The red letters made me think about an alarm and I tried pushing again and looked for other options. After I could not think of anything else I finally pressed the button. There was no alarm sound, but the door started moving again and I could go out.It appears that the door stopped in the middle as a protection mechanism. It was late after the opening hours of the bank and I did not use a card to activate the door. That's why it stopped moving in the middle. Thinking of the design of the sign next to the button that opened the door and its position in the periphery of the door I'm quite sure that I'm not the only person who got trapped for a bit.