Throughout modern civilization, red buttons have generally communicated one of a few things, depending on who you ask. “Press in Case of Emergency”, “Press to Stop”, or “Don’t Press! (but if you do, you can be damn sure something’s going to happen)”. But unless you work in a nuclear power plant, regularly operate heavy machinery, or are an elevator attendant, you probably don’t run into these very often.
Yet here’s one in the strangest of locations; a Citibank ATM, next to the door, actually controlling the door. Obviously (as I’m sure you guessed) it’s a trap… as this one seems to say “Press to Exit and Let us Record How Tall You Are”. Note the inconspicuous tape measure.
It’s a crafty yet unsettling ploy that seems out-of-place in Chicago’s uppity Gold Coast neighborhood. Was this ATM a frequent target for robberies because of all the big spenders in the area? Did something horrible happen here? Do I feel safer or less safe now? Are they recording my height to better target me as a potential new customer for a future ‘Join Citibank’ marketing campaign?
These are the questions I found myself pondering as I stood in front of that door, my wallet full of cash, eyeing that big red button.
The design lesson here — don’t mess with classic design conventions.
But the real lesson — as always — use your own bank’s ATMs.