If it looks the same, it should act the same

This morning, I had a very embarrassing user experience while walking in my staircase… I was waiting for a delivery man to bring me several parcels. Because I wanted to help the delivery man, I started to go downstairs and met him at his truck. It was dark in the staircase. I obviously turned on the light by using the round button near my entrance door.

Once I was downstairs, the guy gave me some parcels and took the remaining ones. We started to go upstairs. My flat is at the third floor. While we were between the first and second floor the lights automatically turned off. Indeed, the light system turns off after a given amount of time. Both the delivery man and I were stuck in the staircase. I started to climb the stairs blindly to reach the second floor. I wanted to press the exact same button near my neighbour's entrance door. After hesitating and hitting some steps several times, I finally reached the second floor and found the button.

In order to turn on the light, I pressed the button … and a bell rang. I actually had used the doorbell. This was a very embarrassing moment as I was still in the dark with the delivery man and I may have woken up the neighbour from the second floor. After 2 or 3 minutes, my neighbour opened the door wearing a dressing grow … I actually had woken him up.

This situation is a perfect example of a real life user experience. In addition to demonstrating my staircase light system sucks (no presence detector, no subtle light indicator on buttons, etc.), it also showed me I was heavily relying on the assumption a button that looks the same would act the same regardless of the current floor. And this is completely natural. People tend to consider interactions regardless of the context/floor.

UX is not only about pixel-made interfaces. UX also exists in real life. Day-to-day experiences fuels a good UX in a product. This morning case is a perfect example of the "if it looks the same, it should act the same" rule. Make sure you follow this rule, too.
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