How many different ways can CS kids use elevators?

rough sketch of the elevator button pad and the swipe machine

This semester, I took a class at Brown on UI/UX Development, and loved our project on Personas. A Persona is a “combination of multiple [interface] users who actually exhibit similar characteristics,” in contrast to a stereotyped single user. By using empathy mapping in the creation of a Persona, designers are able to ensure that their design is centered on the interface’s intended users. After learning about Personas and empathy mapping, we were instructed to pick any public interface, observe people while they use it, and create Personas based on our findings. The elevators in Brown’s computer science building have swipe machines that activate during certain hours; however, many students don’t really know how to use these machines, while many other students do. Consequently, I decided to observe people interacting with the swipe machine interface, in order to understand the types of interactions that users have with these machines. The questions I asked users were:

  1. Do you always/ever swipe your card before pressing the floor button?
  2. At what time do you expect that you’ll need to swipe your card to reach your destination?
  3. How many swipe tries does it generally take you to get to your destination? What about button tries?

After acquiring this information, I created 2 Personas: Calm Casey and Nervous Ned.

Calm Casey

Calm Casey knows that she needs to swipe her Brown ID to access the top floors after 5pm on the weekdays, and also knows that she needs to swipe once before hitting her floor button. She may believe that the swipe process is a mild pain but is, overall, no big deal.

Nervous Ned

Nervous Ned, on the other hand, doesn’t know when he’s supposed to swipe his Brown ID, and is not confident in his ability to use the machine. After stepping into the elevator, he may be fidgety and looking nervously at the floor buttons. To work the elevator, he may perform some combination of swiping his card up and down multiple times and smashing the floor button; however, if this doesn’t work, he may legitimately question whether he did something to get his swipe access revoked.

This project gave me a much more robust understanding of the various ways that people attempt to use the CIT elevators. In general, people really know what they’re doing or … they really don’t.

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