Does Ola need an elevator button?

Whenever I am rushing for an office meeting and have to take an elevator, I press the elevator button multiple times, even after seeing it already ON. It is an act I do to alleviate my stress in the moment. I act irrationally, inspite of knowing that I cant speed up things. This happens to all of us in our daily lives, especially when we are in a hurry and can’t wait for things to happen on their own.

Ola, the ride hailing service in India, has introduced a cool feature on their app recently, that asked the user to let them (Ola) keep looking for a ride for five more minutes, in case the user didn’t get one in the first go, in an attempt to make things easier for the users.

While I think this is a really good problem to solve that actually helps users from having to try multiple times to book a ride, I felt it could have been implemented in a slightly better way. Let me explain you why I feel so.

Be it going to theatres to watch a movie, or heading to a railway station to catch that train to my hometown, whatever the situation is, I always get ready in the nick of time and then try to find a cab. Sometimes, I don’t get a cab when I try for the first time, but I keep trying. I count every second as I stare impatiently at the progress bar hoping to find a ride as soon as possible and whenever I feel it is taking longer, I cancel the ride and try to book again. Not that doing it this way gets me the cab faster but I feel I am in control of things by doing so. I reduce my anxiety by doing so. This is precisely why I felt this feature could have been implemented in a better way.

As you can see in the screenshots below, whenever I choose the option of letting Ola look for a ride for five more minutes, I don’t see the progress bar anymore. I don’t see anything inching forward. Sure, I am notified that the app is going to search for a ride in five minutes. Sure, I have an option to cancel this attempt and place a request one more time. But, by not showing the progress, the app is not making me feel that I am in control. Showing the progress of an action that takes longer is a fundamental principle of user-interface design.

Ola- Look for five more minutes feature


  • Progress indicators make a slow system insufferable and reduce uncertainty as explained in the article
  • Here is another article from NewYork times.

Does Ola need an elevator button? was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.