Poor UX: When The High Tech Buttonless Elevator Holds You Hostage


A few years ago I attended an entirely fabulous UX conference at a snazzy updated hotel. The place had about 30 floors, was gorgeous and had all the latest tech gadgets.

Sexy Elevators 

When I arrived at the hotel I was given my room card. The folks at the desk explained that it would also function as my elevator delivery card. The hotel was locked down so that you could only arrive on a specific floor if you were in the elevator with a person who had swiped their card and was staying on that floor.  It was odd, and not very secure since anyone who got in the elevator with you could just follow you out, but apparently it gave some people peace of mind. My room was on the 15th floor. I was hauling a 50 lb suitcase behind me, and couldn’t wait to get to the room to crash after my 10 hour flight.

When I got to the elevators I was impressed. They were sleek and sexy looking, and each had a small card slot on a pedestal in front of it, along with a button for the gym. There weren’t even any lighted floor indicators, it was a very minimalist setup. I slid my card in, and a few seconds later the elevator slipped to a halt in front of me. I got inside, and again there were no buttons, other than an emergency call.

Not So Sexy UX

The doors closed, and the elevator swooshed up. I watched the numbers tick by: 10th floor, 11th, 12th, and then started to panic when it shot past 15 and on to 16, 17 and eventually to 30. The panic came from the fact that  I’m a touch claustrophobic and felt like I was being held hostage. Malfunctioning elevators is the stuff nightmares are made from. The doors finally opened and I leapt out of the elevator and discovered that it had ushered me to the fitness floor, complete with a sauna and a huge gym. (If I hadn’t been coming down from a massive panic attack I probably would have been offended.)

There was absolutely no way that I was dragging my 50 pound suitcase down 15 flights of stairs, so I nervously inserted my card in the card slot pedestal, and again the doors opened. Once again it shot past the 15th floor and back to the lobby. At this point I was annoyed. I marched up to the front desk, stood in line and once it was my turn explained that the elevator was refusing to let me off at my floor, and they apologized and explained that the system was new and that they were experiencing quite a few glitches. They “reset” something, and assured me that this time it would work fine.

Long story short, it took no less than 3 attempts and conversations with the front desk to get from the lobby to the 15th floor where my room was located.

The ridiculous elevators had triggered what was quite possibly the worst hotel related user experience of my life.

Sometimes Small Details Make A Big Difference in UX

New and fancy does not always equate to better. I learned several months after my anger inducing experience that the elevator system had been replaced by a more traditional one, at a great expense to the hotel chain.

To this day every time I see a sign for a hotel from that particular chain I experience a flash of frustration. Negative user experiences with your product, even small ones, can have long lasting impressions on your users. Make sure that you’re not letting small, poorly executed details diminish your brand’s good name.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Poor UX: When The High Tech Buttonless Elevator Holds You Hostage

  1. Andy Cowin says:

    I feel your pain, Jennifer. Your tale reminded me of the perils of voice activation in lifts captured in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAz_UvnUeuU

    • jma245 says:

      haha! Yes! Tech completely failing in the category of function is awful! I’m all for progress… but I’m all for delivering tech enhancements that actually work! They clearly didn’t test that enough. If you don’t have time to QA your product enough to be sure it will function properly (especially when the function is to carry human bodies up and down 10’s of stories) you shouldn’t release it to the market! The same goes for apps and software. lol I’ll step off my soapbox. 😛

  2. This is what scares me the most when it comes to technology. Poor UX. It’s scary in a way that confusion on how to use something might lead to very scary scenarios. Especially if the users are non-techie elders. 😦

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: