Going up


tepping into an unfamiliar elevator is always a surprise. While you are trying to remember what floor you need to get to, there are a couple of paralel processes going on. There is the friendly nod, the chat about the weather or overhearing someone else’s conversation while entering the elevator. You don’t want to get out on the wrong floor and there is limited time to process the input and to make a decision. And then there is the interface. Especially when you are in an unfamiliar place it can be interesting to find the right button for the right floor.

'Choose your destiny'

I once discovered that some elevators have the interface in the hallway in stead of the elevator, so when you walk confidently into the lift, that emotion quickly changes into light panic mode and you hope that the other person has the same destination floor.

In your quest to “go up”, you are looking for some sort of structure that helps you to press the right button. Floor labels or some name plates are crucial here. The orientation of these elements can really make a difference. I’m used to low numbers at the bottom, high numbers at the top, but when there are a lot of floors, things get creative.

Think quick - choose the right floor
Think quick - choose the right floor

The elevator that made me think about these interfaces was in a hotel in Kaohsiung (Taiwan). I remember that I needed a brief moment to figure out what button I needed to press. I knew that the number 4 is sometimes not used for building floors because it is considered “unlucky”, so that one was missing. Then the double labels misguided me a bit because of the information overload and the orientation of the number in the columns needed some processing time.

I must admit that after a while, the interface grew on me and I guess I adapted to the button setup.

What is the weirdest elevator interface you have encountered?