How many UX people does it take to lock a door?

[tweetmeme source=”usabilitygal” only_single=false]
We experienced the door lock from hell this weekend. The simple task of locking a bedroom door turned into major STRESS!

Background:
Attending wedding. Time VERY tight. Going to be late if don’t leave immediately.

The problem:
Hotel room door will not lock!

Current mental model:
Put key in lock……turn key……door locks

What actually happens:
Put key in lock….turn key….try putting key in upside down…still won’t lock…turn key again…..open, close door….keep turning key….slam door….shake door handle… after several attempts and visions of entering church after the bride, I rush downstairs to get help, leaving UX boyfriend with Satan’s lock.

Solution:
Receptionist casually informs me of a small panel attached to the INSIDE of the door explaining how to lock the door, which apparently can only be done from the inside. The fact that this notice is there shows that this must be a common problem. But it’s on the inside of the door! People lock doors from the outside as well as the inside.

Skill required:
It turns out that locking the door isn’t as simple as following the instructions on the panel. Skill is also required. The instructions say to twist to lock, however, after much trying we discover that you also need to hold the handle stable with the other hand to get the lock part to turn.

picture of lock

Danger!
Not only is this locking method not intuitive and difficult to do but it also increases the risk that the guest will leave their key in their room as they aren’t required to use the key to lock the door.

So, how many UX people does it take to lock a door? 2 with the help of a hotel receptionist already familiar with the method of locking.

Did we make it to the church on time? Unfortunately, we arrived after the bride (upon seeing the empty bridal car, panic and cursing of the hotel door ensued) but we managed to sneak into our seats before she walked down the aisle. Phew!!!

One thought on “How many UX people does it take to lock a door?

  1. Jacob says:

    Great article, great example of poor UX. Not sure if there was any usability testing on that design, but it sure could have used some.

    This reminds me of when I was visiting a navy museum when I was younger, I’d walked the whole way around a submarine, taking pictures the whole way round – there were no signs to indicate otherwise anywhere on the sub or at the entrance, but when I walked out the exit what do I encounter but a ‘Photography strictly forbidden on submarine’ sign… Go figure.

    Thanks for the article, glad you made it to the wedding on time!

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