Another workaround to bad elevator design

Modified emergency button at Berri metro elevator

Remember back in September when I predicted that the design of the panel on the metro elevators would cause a problem because the call button and the emergency button were the same size and shape, and placed in such a way that an inattentive passerby might mistake the emergency button for the “up” button?

And then when the elevators actually opened there was a quick redesign that put big arrows toward the call button?

Well turns out the STM has implemented a more permanent solution to the problem of people mistaking the buttons. This transparent plate, which easily swivels out of the way, gives this button a more nuclear-missile-launch vibe to it, and will probably prevent most people from pressing it unless they’re absolutely sure they either need help or want to prank the security guards.

The new panel. Press here, NOT HERE!

11 thoughts on “Another workaround to bad elevator design

  1. Shawn

    You called it! Really, the STM should just hire you to tell them what’s stupid and what’s not BEFORE they install or do, well, anything.

    But then I know you’re making too much money freelancing for the Gazette to consider a pay cut.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      Actually I’m making very little money freelancing for the Gazette, mostly because I don’t have time to do more on account of my actually working for them.

    2. Amanda

      Fagstein’s keen eye for idiocy is indeed great (not to mention entertaining), but the real key to picking up stupidities like this before launching anything is to do usability testing on a bunch of customers/users and see what issues they run into. There is no one in the world savvy enough to predict how people will interact with something once it’s installed for real.

      Then again, when something THIS obvious makes it through, there are probably other forces at work besides mere stupidity. i.e. the economics of having 2 different button shapes, technical reasons why the call button needs to be placed higher, not to mention budgetary/political issues preventing STM from choosing a better design because they need to buy from a Quebec supplier…then not having enough money to properly fix the problem because they paid said Quebec supplier 5x more than they should have… ;-)

      (j/k about those last two….sorta.)

      1. Fagstein Post author

        I suppose usability testing would have helped here, but … this is an elevator. It’s not the first elevator ever designed. Surely there are some guidelines for elevator call panels that cover this already after extensive usability testing. And I would think one of the major points would be “don’t make the emergency button look like a regular call button”.

        Then again, emergency buttons look like call buttons all the time inside elevators, and emergency buttons rarely appear on the outside.

        1. Amanda

          True. I don’t know much about the world of elevator design, but the button arrangement on this panel looks pretty non-standard, thus voiding any previous usability knowledge (not to mention maintenance procedures) that had been accumulated based on prior installations.

          I’d be very interested to know more about WHY it ended up this way.

  2. Seth

    I guess anglo tourists are outta luck if they’re looking for help.

    The panel looks more like a test to see if kids can resist pushing either button, the “forbidden” plastic-covered one, or the yellow-arrows one, after you say “Now don’t push either one, no matter what.”

  3. Cindy

    I am looking for that emergency button cover. Do you have the manufacturer’s contact information?

    Thank you.
    Cindy Wright


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