s simple: just get off at the next stop and go to the destination�control box in the elevator hall, and specify the intended floor.PEOPLES RESPONSES TO CHANGES IN CONVENTIONS�People invariably object and complain whenever a new approachis introduced into an existing array of products and systems. Conventionsare violated: new learning is required. The merits of thenew system are irrelevant: it is the change that is upsetting. The
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destination control elevator is only one of many such examples.The metric system provides a powerful example of the difficultiesin changing peoples conventions.�The metric scale of measurement is superior to the English scaleof units in almost every dimension: it is logical, easy to learn,and easy to use in computations. Today, over two centuries havepassed since the metric system was developed by the French inthe 1790s, yet three countries still resist its use: the United States,Liberia, and Myanmar. Even Great Britain has mostly switched, sothe only major country left that uses the older English system ofunits is the United States. Why havent we switched? The change�is too upsetting for the people who have to learn the new system,and the initial cost of purchasing new tools and measuring devicesseems excessive. The learning difficulties are nowhere as complexas purported, and the cost would be relatively small because themetric system is already in wide use, even in the United States.Consistency in design is virtuous. It means that lessons learnedwith one system transfer readily to others. On the whole, consistencyis to be followed. If a new way of doing things is only slightlybetter than the old, it is better to be consistent. But if there is to bea change, everybody has to change. Mixed systems are confusingto everyone. When a new way of doing things is vastly superiorto another, then the merits of change outweigh the difficulty of150 The Design of Everyday Thingschange. Just because something is different does not mean it is bad.If we only kept to the old, we could never improve.The Faucet:A Case History of DesignIt may be hard to believe that an everyday water faucet could needan instruction manual. I saw one, this time at the meeting of theBritish Psychological Society in Sheffield, England. The participantswere lodged in dormitories. Upon checking into RanmoorHouse, each guest was given a pamphlet that provided useful information:where the churches were, the times of meals, the location ofthe post office, and how to work the taps (faucets). The taps on the�washhand basin are operated by pushing down gently.�When it was my turn to speak at the conference, I asked the audienceabout those taps. How many had trouble using them? Polite,restrained tittering from the audience. How many tried to turn thehandle? A large show of hands. How many had to seek help? A fewhonest folks raised their hands. Afterward, one woman came up tome and said that she had given up and walked the halls until shefound someone who could explain the taps to her. A simple sink, a
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