Just because you are a ...

Posted by Jake on 24 January

You maybe a manager, developer, designer, a big boss but it really doesn't mean you should silo yourself away and let others handle their niche.

Sure you may not be an expert in "X" but that doesn't mean your opinions aren't important and not worth expressing.

I'm a Front End Developer and take my role extremely seriously but over the years I have really found that being passionate about other areas of projects, have resulted in better projects. It has also helped me grow as a developer.

One little example that has become a little pet hate over the last few days is the 'traffic light button'. Warning this is not in anyway tech related....


Looking at the above picture can you tell me.

  • Has the button been pressed?
  • If so, how many times has it been pressed?
  • Does it need to be pressed?

This is feedback 101

A little background on how it actually works. When you need to cross the road you press the button. Simple. It then does some wizz bang stuff to notify the traffic light to change the walking symbol at an appropriate time (I think). But, when the button is pressed it immediately pops back out giving you no feedback on the current state.

There is no way to tell if it has been pressed. If ten people have pressed it (you may have witnessed it though) or how long until you will be able to walk.

So, after a little research and some conversations with fellow co-workers I was enlightened that these stupid traffic light buttons actually have a name and are intended to be stupid.

The placebo button (also referred to as an idiot button) is a push-button with apparent functionality that actually has no effect when pressed.
source - wikipedia

The traffic button may not actually do anything but it gives your hands something to do while you wait for the time to pass, which makes you think that the time is less.

Ok, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt now, but I still feel that it would be helpful if it had some user feedback. Just like when you are in an elevator and each pressed button has a light surrounding it.

Anyway, I may have gone down a rabbit hole in regards to the traffic light button but I do feel a little wiser.

So why is a Front End Developer writing about a stupid traffic light button that is more related to a UX issue?

Well, I care about other aspects, not just my niche. This traffic light in my eyes can be improved and if I approach all projects with the same openness hopefully they will also be better.

Topics: Design