A few years ago I attended a fantastic UX conference at a gorgeous hotel. The place had about 30 floors and all of the latest tech gadgets.
When I arrived at the hotel I was given my room card. The folks at the desk explained that it would also function as my elevator delivery card.
My room was on the 15th floor. I was hauling a 50 lb suitcase behind me and I couldn’t wait to get to the room to crash after my 10 hour flight.
When I got to the elevators I was impressed. They were really sleek, and each had a small card slot on a pedestal in front of it, along with a button for the gym. There weren’t even any lighted floor indicators, it was a very minimalist design.
I slid my card in, and a few seconds later the elevator slipped to a halt in front of me. I got inside, and again there were no buttons other than an emergency call.
Not So Sleek Experience
The doors closed, and the elevator swooshed up. I watched the numbers tick by: 10th floor, 11th, 12th, and then started to panic when it shot past 15 and on to 16, 17 and eventually to 30. I’m REALLY claustrophobic and felt like I was being held hostage. Malfunctioning elevators is the stuff nightmares are made of. The doors finally opened and I leapt out of the elevator mid panic attack and discovered that it had ushered me to the fitness floor right outside of the sauna.
There was absolutely no way that I was dragging my 50 pound suitcase down 15 flights of stairs, so I nervously inserted my card in the card slot pedestal, and again the doors opened. It shot past the 15th floor again and back to the lobby. I marched up to the front desk, stood in line for 20 minutes and explained that the elevator was refusing to let me off at my floor. They apologized and explained that the system was new and that they were experiencing quite a few glitches. They “reset” something, and assured me that this time it would work fine.
Long story short, it took no less than 3 attempts and conversations with the front desk to get from the lobby to the 15th floor where my room was located.
The ridiculous elevators+heavy luggage+10 hour flight exhaustion combo made this make my top 5 list of worst hotel experiences.
Sometimes Small Details Make A Big Difference in UX
New features do not automatically equate to a better product. I learned several months after my infuritating experience that the entire elevator system had been replaced by a more traditional version at all of the hotels in that chain, costing the parent company millions of dollars.
Negative user experiences with your product, even small ones, can leave long lasting impressions on your users. To this day every time I see a sign for one of those hotels I experience a flash of irritation—I haven’t stayed in one since I had that experience.
On the other hand, positive UX can create brand fans for life.
Products that do what yours do are popping up every single day. If a user has a negative experience with a product, they can now just jump ship and replace it with something shiny and new. Your competitors are standing in line right behind you, ready to snap those frustrated users up in a flash. Conduct extensive usability testing prior to release to ensure that you’re not letting poorly executed features diminish your brand’s good name—or worse, cause you to loose customers and revenue permanently.