I think that the close doors button in an elevator does very little. If it works, it saves the person two seconds of their time. If time matters this much to people, why do people stand still on escalators, instead of walking up the steps?

Having the button there can lead to people accidentally pressing the open doors button, in their rush to find the right button, which delays them even further. If the close doors button doesn't do anything, then this means it can only cause delays, and the absence of the button can solve this problem of behaviour that negatively affects oneself.

Not having the button wouldn't lead to people feeling trapped (only the opposite button would do that). Furthermore, I think a small delay before the doors close is advantageous to people who want to get into the elevator at the last minute, so the absence of the button can improve behaviour that negatively affects others.

  • In fact, these buttons are useless. At least in the United States, because in 1990 the "Americans with disabilities act" came into effect. In Germany for example the buttons work, but only under certain circumstances. It won't work if someone is on the way to the elevator or if someone in between the doors. They are really just for a good feeling and simulation of control. – rhauger Jul 1 '18 at 18:08
  • 1
    The scenarios you have mentioned are the safety features. Even pressing the floor buttons won't close or move the elevator if the doors sense obstruction – Shreyas Tripathy Jul 2 '18 at 6:26
  • I think there are similar psychological factors at work here, the same as the button that you press at the pedestrian crossings that are not necessarily functional, but play a role in trying to affect user behaviour. – Michael Lai Jul 5 '18 at 4:50

I feel like this is an opinionated question so I am going to answer it with similar scenarios and try to focus on just the UX part of it.

The time it "saves"

That's not for you or me to decide whether the supposed 2 seconds it saves is worth it or not. I used to work in a team where we used to have our daily meeting at 10am sharp. Anyone reaching the room even at 10:00:01 AM was considered late and there used to be a fine (the value of which went up exponentially with every time you were late). Might sound frugal but it was what it was and I can't tell you how glad I was that the elevator had that "close door" button.

Used by emergency services

Most elevators will skip all floors if you press the close button and the floor button at the same time. Emergency services use this to get up faster.

Manual override

The elevators have sensors and timers on the doors to make sure they close/stay open. They don't work perfectly all the time. Having a manual override is always a good idea. That is exactly why phones have password or a key despite having fingerprint or face authentication. Same is the case of auto-refresh and auto-save activated applications having a refresh and save button respectively.

It's not an unnecessary addition

We people who look at UX researches and user behavior patterns would like to remove unnecessary items from the menu but most of the times we are guilty of doing too much or too little.

If I am the only person entering an elevator that has a 5 second wait time, and there isn't anyone around who asking me to stop it, I would absolutely hate standing in an open, immobile elevator. It would make me anxious!

"I wish there was a close button", I would mumble and grind my teeth while I check my watch 3 times in 5 seconds.

| improve this answer | |
  • Except the close button often doesn't work at all. You're assuming that it is a functional button, when often it's just a placebo button. – gpgpgp Jul 1 '18 at 23:00
  • How often do I click a Delete button in an email, with the expectation that it is going to delete an email and it doesn't actually perform that function? Never. The difference is that clicking the Delete button in email always performs the expected function. Unless you're using some bizarre email client that I'm certainly quite glad I don't use. – gpgpgp Jul 3 '18 at 0:00
  • Disabling the close button on the elevator is a decision that is taken based on safety regulations and laws which change based on the building layout, the state or the country. So, the elevators are designed with the feature that can cater to all these requirements. Your question should be, "Why don't they remove the button rather than disabling it?" To that, I have no answer – Shreyas Tripathy Jul 3 '18 at 10:17

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.