Elevator buttons – another example of lousy design

In the wake of Darren Barefoot’s amusing post a few days ago about lousy interface design on mundane items such as stoves and washing machines, I stumbled upon this item by Simon Cohen at sympatico/msn today.

Cohen asks why there is no way to “undo” the choice of floor in an elevator:

People make mistakes. To err is human, right? Most of the technology that we interact with was built with this concept in mind. Light switches go on and off, cars have accelerators and brake pedals, computers have the indispensable ‘undo’ command. So why is it that elevators require us to live with our first choice?

Reading Cohen’s tail of misery, trapped in an elevator where someone had pushed all the buttons before getting off, I can see his point.

So what’s with elevator buttons? A few days ago I was in a nursing home. All of the elevator buttons were very stylish, stainless steel contraptions that required an enormous amout of pressure to activate. I’m sure that some elderly or disabled people would have found them very difficult to use. It seems to me that many years ago soft-touch elevator buttons were pretty common, but I guess they’re no longer considered cool-looking.