I don’t know about you, but I have NO IDEA what to do in these scenarios. Haha.
Usually it’s just look like a total moron while I try the first (AND ALWAYS WRONG) way to open the door. Or push the wrong elevator button and look around at everyone else with a “Deer in the Headlights” kind of look like a complete doofus.
Cool. We should totally be friends.
It’s obvious these handles/buttons are messed up. Well the first day someone tries to use it out in the real-world anyway. These frustrations could be overlooked during the design phase due to a variety of reasons, but they should be thought about & prevented if possible!
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that constitutes a major problem after you’ve installed those door-handles or elevator buttons on 10,000 different locations before you notice the issue.
If you don’t think that would be a bad day (or week, or month, or year), you’re done reading. 🙂
Grab a nice drink (preferably with a little umbrella in it) & enjoy your day!
Design Process Examples to Improve Usability
Let’s revisit those elevator buttons from earlier. (Our POTENTIAL DESIGN PROBLEM)
I’ll walk you through the design process (Because, Effective Design is a PROCESS, Not An Act) for how I would go about making them a bit more user friendly and less confusing. We’ll be visually grouping the buttons & arrows together, which will psychologically communicate to people which button does what.
We don’t want to just write the words “UP” and “DOWN” on the buttons, that might limit who could understand our design. If we did we might possibly limit our design to only be understood by 1) those old enough to read, or 2) those who know how to read English.
That could mean Children, or Non-English Speaking People wouldn’t be able to operate the elevator!
(We don’t want to discriminate against people who cannot read, or do not natively speak English.)
Effective Design is a PROCESS, Not an Act because we work through multiple ideas & refine them to really make them shine. Sometimes the answer is not right in front of us, we have to conceptualize, and refine ideas to solve it most effectively.
A) Colored Outlines Grouping Arrow & Button Together
First concept out of the gates, this makes a little bit more sense doesn’t it?
B) Full Colored Backgrounds Grouping Arrow & Button Together
I feel this is an improvement over the first design (a), as it will be easily seen & understood from a farther distance down the hallway.
C) Arrows Touching Buttons
Might be even better if the arrows & buttons touched each other, then you wouldn’t absolutely have to have an outline eh?
D) Color Coordinated Arrows & Buttons
Instead of an outline or background grouping the arrows & buttons together, or having them touch, what if we color coded the arrow to it’s respective button?
E) Arrows ON Buttons
Why do the arrows & buttons have to be separate? Maybe they would look better with Arrows directly on the buttons. Would eliminate the need for color or trying to group them. There’s no way to miss-interpret which button goes down and which goes up. When in doubt… SIMPLIFY!
F) Arrows ON Buttons + Stacked
If we place the arrows directly on top of the buttons that takes up a lot less room, we could make them both BIGGER!
YAY! This could boost readability, even if your the 8th person in line at the elevators.
Provided nobody is doing interpretive dance in front of the panel.
G) Arrow ON button + Stacked + Color Coded
And what if we added color back in to the equation?
I believe this is the superior design (out of my concepts) for improving the elevator button panel.
These Solutions Are Much More:
People instinctively know which buttons do what, no learning/reading/instruction required!
Even from a much farther distance (several doors down the hallway) it’s easily understood.
The Up Arrow is Green because green signifies growth, as in upward momentum, becoming more, growing plants are green. The Down Arrow is Red because Red signifies down, it means stop, or less than adequate (Ex: a lower level than you are currently on).
These are just a couple ideas off the top of my head, they didn’t take long to come up with, and could probably become really brilliant with a little iteration & work done to them. But they’re definitely a lot better solutions than the problem that exists. (and now is quite expensive to fix)
I’m not an Engineer, perhaps some of those would cost a bit more than others to implement, but I bet there’s a simple creative solution that fixes the confusion presented by the elevator buttons that is very economically friendly.
Sound Reasoning Makes For Timeless Quality Design
My concept for the colors is: Green for Up, Red for Down. Just because I love Christmas? Nope.
Green signifies growth, right? And plants that are growing are green, right? Cool.
Red means stop. Or lots of red markings on your paper at school meant you were in trouble, that your grade was GOING DOWN. Hence Red for down.
Does that sound like we’re over-thinking the colors?
Nobody has to really think through it psychologically (like we did) to get it. But when it’s right; it makes sense, it just FEELS RIGHT, even without thinking.
THAT’S THE BEAUTY OF IT.
We don’t want people to have to work to make sense of it.
But in return we have to do a little work & thinking upfront to make it simple for people later.
What if we switched the colors, all willy-nilly like? If the Up arrow was Red & the Down arrow was Green, wouldn’t that look a little strange and out of place? Or what if we used Yellow-Green & Purple? (just because we like them, or for “fun” decoration, or whatever)
It just wouldn’t make sense or flow anymore.
Design Is Meant To Simplify Your Message
Design at it’s least is decoration for your message.
Design at it’s best is the support and structure of your entire Brand message.
How Design Swiftly Communicates In A Split Second
Design is Psychology.
(See: Color Theory: It’s More Than Meets The Eye, It’s Psychology)
It’s about communicating subconsciously to your customers. Through colors, styles, quantity of information,
Ex: What color would support our message best?
A Soft Blue for a calming effect? Or a Bright Red for urgency?
Ex: Does a large block type font best support what we want to say?
Large block type implies power, or would a softer script font work better to emphasize elegance?
Ex: Would one large, powerful image work better than a 10 smaller ones on our Billboard or Sign?
1 Large image would provide much more impact and be much easier to remember (or stick in the subconscious of your customers) than 10 smaller images on a billboard as people whizz by on the highway. The answer is yes. 😉
Ex: Would it be best to state “we’re the best” on our brochure so people will trust us?
Or should we focus our message on the customer & what they want, and not on ourselves?
A lot of self-made advertising proclaims “we’re the best!”, but isn’t “the best” subjective?
What if they want the highest quality? You offer that?
What if your customer wants the fastest response time? You offer that?
What if they want the lowest price? You offer that?
What if they want the most options? You offer that?
None of the largest brands in the entire world offer all of those…
(Think Mercedez Benz, McDonalds, Nike, or Starbucks)
They aren’t everything to everyone, they do one or two things, and do them exceptionally well. They cater to the people who want THAT SPECIFIC OPTION.
It’s advisable to focus on what the customer is seeking, and less on yourself. The harsh reality is they don’t care about you. They care about their problems, and if you can “best” solve them. Hint: They’re probably looking for one of these over the others. (Ex: Highest Quality, Fastest Service, Most Options, Lowest Price)
If you can fill their most important need, they want to do business with you.
Does the advertising copy written on your website “best” support your message? Does your brochure line up with what your website says? Do your employees strive to exceed expectations set forth by any & all of your advertising? Is there a more effective way to communicate what you want your customers to know about you? Are you sure?
That’s why we Designers exist, to help guide you to communicate and get the results you want in less time. We’re all busy and see hundreds to thousands of images a day all begging for our attention. The ones that use big fancy words, lots of imagery, and confusing structure are often getting in the way of their own message. They are making it harder for people to understand what they want them to know, and harder to remember later.
Want to make your message clear and set yourself up for success?
We should definitely talk.
I am Rusty Marnell, a Graphic Designer here in Amarillo, TX.
Designing innovative Brands for people all over the US and beyond is what I do best.
I love working with passionate people who are committed to making a positive impact in the world. Our time is incredibly short on Earth, we have to make our impact NOW.
(Check out: Time – Stop Freakin’ Wasting It!)
I’d be honored to have the opportunity to contribute something impactful to the world with you.
One Man Workhorse
Call: (806) 672-8997
Facebook: Octane Studios
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