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Joel on Software

More about elevators

by Joel Spolsky
Thursday, May 03, 2007

Elevators, actually, are a great usability subject, because so many people are familiar with them, and they seem like they should be so simple, but pitfalls are everywhere.

I couldn't resist telling you the second usability bug with those elevators where you select a floor before getting on. People who work in buildings with the new elevators but live in buildings with traditional elevators report that when they get home at night, they sometimes get into the elevator and then just stand there, expecting the elevator to know their floor already.

And one more story. Doug wrote in to say:

“A number of years ago a programmer friend of mine worked for a company that was brought in to optimize the elevators in a San Fran hotel. After doing their due diligence/study, they had the hotel install mirrors in the hallway where the elevators were. By the time the visitors were done preening, the elevator had arrived. Human engineering at its finest.”


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, easy web-based collaboration software, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracking and software development tool, and Kiln, a distributed source control system that will blow your socks off. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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