This is not a look at how the UX of the buttons inside the elevator could be improved, it is an observation of a new pattern in the call elevator button.
I recently moved from an apartment without an elevator to an apartment with an elevator and noticed something strange. When I take the elevator from the lobby up to the 9th floor I have the option to press an up OR a down button before getting in the elevator. However once I’ve reached the 9th floor (which is not the top floor) I only have the option to press the down button.
This lead to a bit of frustration when we were viewing the apartment since the landlord owned a few apartments on different floors and prevented us from being able to go from the 8th floor to the 9th floor without passing the lobby.
Looking at this from a usability perspective it makes sense that the user is probably 99% of the time going from floor x to the lobby, which means that they don’t really have a need for an up button on every floor.
I can see how this can be a way for a developer to save money on the building since it takes less plastic and metal to have just one button on every floor instead of 2. But then I wonder how much are they really saving?
Now let look at the purpose of the elevator, why do users use it? What is the need that they are filling?
Quite simply the need is to get from floor x to floor y.
Where floor x can be the lobby or it can be floor 20 and floor y can be floor 1 or floor 35!
Now why would it make sense for the elevator to prevent me from being able to go from any floor in the building to any other floor in the building?
Could it be a safety feature? It prevents a robber from easily getting into the building and then taking the elevator up and down to random floors in the building, but this just seems like overkill.
The only reasonable explanation that I could come up with is that it would save the user a small amount of “processing power” when trying to figure out which button they should press in order to go down to the lobby. The user doesn’t have to make a decision as to which button they need to press they just press the button and the decision to go down in the elevator has already been made.
Where I think this falls apart is when you start to think about people actually living or working in the building. Say you moved into the apartment on the 3rd floor and your friend lives on the 10th. With this type of elevator you would have to call the elevator go to the lobby and then all the way up to 10th floor to see your friend. This kind of interaction just doesn’t make sense and seems like a complete waste of time and resources.