Efficient Elevators, Finding Exceptional Experiences Everywhere

How many times have you stood at the base of an elevator and waited…and waited…and waited…until finally it finally stopped at your floor? And then after all that seemingly endless waiting, you discover a crowd of people already on board…followed by a painstaking floor by floor tour of the building?

This month, our Remote Year Group has taken up residence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our co-working space is located at WeWork right in the heart of the city, inside a 50-story building called Equatorial Plaza. It’s an amazing location! The building itself is gorgeous with a glass encased spiral staircase, towering ceiling and contemporary finishes throughout the lobby.

And the WeWork space is nothing short of stunning with a fun and playful theme spanning multiple floors. But we’re not here to talk about the building UI, we’re here to talk about the UX – and the how something as mundane as an elevator can deliver a extraordinary user experience.

When you walk into the main lobby of the Equatorial Plaza there are two sets of elevators separated by the reception desk. The left set for floors 16 – 26 and the right set for floors 4 – 16. After you pass through the security barriers, you approach your intended elevator bank to discover that the typical up/down buttons are missing.

Instead, you are greeted with a 10-digit keypad asking you to input the number of the floor you plan to visit. Punch in your destination, and the keypad’s screen tells you which elevator will soon be yours—A, B, C, D or E. Less than 60 seconds later, the doors of your assigned elevators car opens.

Step inside and you will find nothing! Well, at least no numbered floor buttons. The only controls are to open and close the doors, which are accompanied by an LCD screen showing your current floor number.

These elevators, known as Destination Control Lift Systems, were conceived originally in the 1960s, but not practical for use at that time. Today with the advent of advanced microprocessors, DCL systems are a reality in many high-rise buildings. Now, thanks to intelligent UX design, something as trivial as riding an elevator can be made into a great experience. From the efficiency of the split elevator banks to the grouping elevators based on floor destination, this system fosters maximum usability…achieving the users goals in nearly half the time of a traditional elevator system.

So, what can we learn from this experience?

Every interaction matters! As a designer, we must develop end-to-end experiences—from the moment the user first engages with our product, service, app or in this case, a building to the last second the user is experiencing the interaction we have designed, we need to optimize the user’s journey.

It’s the little details in the interactions that make for a memorable experience. Even something as trivial as riding the elevator can enhance an experience and create a little pocket of delight to remember. As UX designers, our job is to discover these moments and ensure each one counts!

While the average building visitor in downtown anywhere may never consider the UX of an elevator, the designers and engineers at Equitorial Plaza did, and in doing so brought a little extra joy, a bit of greater customer satisfaction, and most importantly, a clear lesson that there is always room for improvement.

As UX designers, we must find ways to increase efficiency, usability, and customer satisfaction in each every day experience. Our job is to elevate the user experience in all we do!

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