I was sitting near to a couple of lifts waiting for my wife and I had the opportunity to observe people using the lifts for quite a time.
Now, despite my advancing years, I have been pretty efficient when it comes to operation of the elevator. If I want to go up then I press up and if I want to go down I press down. That is to say I press the button that has an arrow on it pointing in the direction that I want to go.
Imagine my surprise as I saw countless people wrestling with two up buttons and two down buttons for these two lifts. Incidentally, as per normal, the two down buttons for the two lifts were linked so pressing one caused the other to light as did the two up buttons.
And yet, I watched as countless grown adults, without any sign of mental deficiency, proceeded to press up buttons to go and vice versa. Often the ensuing frustration would cause them to push all four buttons even though they were all ready lit!
But suddenly it dawned on me that these people were simply applying a different form of logic to mine because of two other indicators that I have so far not mentioned. One was a pair of arrows next to the lift that indicated the direction of travel of the lift and the other was a display that showed which floor the lift was on at that moment.
The logic that was being applied went something like this. I am on floor 5 and I want to go down. However, the lift is on floor two so I need to press up to bring it from level 2 to 5. If I press down it will go to 1 or 0 and so on. In other words, people cannot equate the calling action with an instruction to take them to their ultimate destination.
I therefore asked myself why do I need to know what floor the lift is on? I saw no evidence of people using the stairs because of where the lift was positioned when they reached the buttons. However, knowing the floor confused their operation and often resulted in timewasting stops.
What was needed was a simple button that said press to go down or press to go up! All of the rest was confusing extraneous candyfloss! The same is true of bus shelters that tell you how far away the bus is. If I need a bus I am going to sit it out regardless, and if the bus is only a few minutes away it is likely to dissuade the potential walker not encourage walking instead of riding.
So here is a lesson to the entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs of the world. Please keep things simple. Before you put things out there to confuse us all, ask yourself the simple questions, ‘Why is it there?’ and ‘Does anyone want it’.