Pick a piece of interactive technology in public, used by multiple people. Write down your assumptions as to how it’s used, and describe the context in which it’s being used. Watch people use it, preferably without them knowing they’re being observed. Take notes on how they use it, what they do differently, what appear to be the difficulties, what appear to be the easiest parts. Record what takes the longest, what takes the least amount of time, and how long the whole transaction takes. Consider how the readings from Norman and Crawford reflect on what you see.
Elevators are a piece of “interactive technology” used in our Tisch building. Gathering from my past experiences with elevators, I would assume that once you press either the up or down button, the elevator will pick you up once it’s ready to go the direction you choose. Once in the elevator, you press the button that corresponds with your destination floor. The context for our Tisch elevators is that students use them to get to class, usually in a rush.
Some students will press a button multiple times, as if to hasten the elevator’s arrival. Some will look up at the progress bar to see where the elevator is, and leave if they discern a long wait. Some will press a button without looking at the bar, and leave after their patience runs out. Some will simply look at the size of the crowd that’s accumulated in front of the elevator bank to decide whether to wait for the elevator.
A difficulty of these elevators is that sometimes you will be picked up seemingly regardless of whether the elevator is going in your desired direction. The bemused users then must choose their floor once again, lest their destination is skipped entirely. This happens most often at the ground floor, when the crowd boards, chooses their destination, only to be brought to the basement and forced to press their floor’s number again. Another difficulty is the wait itself, which causes users to reevaluate their decision to take the elevator. Unless you’re lucky, this part will take the longest of the entire transaction.
The easiest part is pressing your floor’s button once you’ve boarded. The time it takes to travel to your destination is usually the part of the process that takes the least amount of time, unless there’s a big crowd that wants to go to every floor before yours. Another part which is quite easy is the initial pressing of the up/down buttons in the lobby.