We looked at doors on Tuesday. As our groups we observed people use different doors and noted our findings. We did so for about 45 minutes then for a few minutes discussed our groups findings. We then returned to the classroom and each group brought forth their findings. Many things were learned. I have never looked at people using a door for the sake of just that and noticed things I had missed before.


Many public doors are glass with a horizontal bar to push and a vertical to pull. The door was at the smith building are all glass and highly tinted. This means going out is no problem but going in on a bright day means you cant see in but just barely and the doors swing out meaning you have to approach the doors very cautiously. One could be hit by someone going out from the inside. This is probably 1 reason why high traffic doors are glass so you can see when it is going to be operated from the other side. A simple thing as material changing how its used.

We observed that many high traffic door especially where temperature can get very extreme have double doors. This is to help keep the air inside regulated. We noticed several doors didn’t have vertical handles to pull at all. All we could figure is they didn’t want people walking by those doors to go to open them and around the corner where they cant see the door open and hit them.

We noticed several defective mechanized handy cap doors. The one here had the button literally a few inches to the side of the door. I saw 1 person in a wheel chair try to operate it. It was as predicted barely functional. It forced them to get needlessly close to hit the button then quickly wheel back to get out of the way of the opening door then wheel through it. The button should have been on a post a few feet away or on the door entry way a few feet back or like most doors open at the same time the main door opens as a person in a wheel chair had no where to go but through that door. The other library door had the same button right by the door but they realized it was bad and added a post 1 a few feet from the door. The problem is they still left the small on a few inches from the door but deactivated it. There was no reason to leave it on the door as it appeared redundant.

We also went to the elevator. We noticed that a person will press the button and wait over 30 seconds for the elevator just to reach their floor. Even though in those 30 seconds they could have probably walked up 1-2 floots. I believe the reason they don’t just take the stairs is they don’t know how long it will take. Myself I press the elevator button, if it is not on that floor and i’m only going 1-2 floors and the stairs are with in a few feet of the elevator which they usually are I will use the stairs. When the door opens if there is not any 1 else in the immediate area waiting the person(s) will go in, and not even look to see if any 1 else could want the elevator. It is as thought they think “we have waited long enough, if they are not here and ready they can wait like we did”. This is very different from when a door is open and you know some 1 is a few steps behind and you push the door open more as you walk though so they can grab the door.

Vertical bars the whole width of the door can be confused on which end to push to open it. Some doors fix this with the bar more on 1 side or the other or a paddle push bar making it easy to know which side. I figured out why a bar is for pushing. If you are holding something or say pushing a hand cart you can always push against it even with arms full making it easy to get through. A vertical bar shows that you only need 1 arm to open it as it is on 1 side and matches your arm grasp if you raise your arm up.

The art office glass door is a push bar on both sides and swings both ways. When approaching it I had to very consciously break the convention to push and instead pull. I found a perfect example of a norman door.  The door is unclear to push or pull. You would think ok vertical bar means pull except when you realize you can see through it and see the same thing on the other side. Also the hinge is hidden embedded in the wall so still no clue. All you can do is pull and hope it is correct but then what happens when you are on the other side do you push or pull? Actually the door swings both ways but the only good convention I can think of for this is for restaurants doors that swing both ways. They make it so you cant see through anything more than a small window and make it a push plate so you just push and there is no question about it. They could fix this with a non transparent plate on the door where the handle is about 2ft high and 1ft wide making it very hard to see the handle on the other side and assume that it must be pull with a vertical bar. This would make it more funtional and still decorative.

“As you can see, it’s not clear whether to push or pull the door to get inside. Nothing new so far; and of course, the door has its manual written on it (even in multiple languages!), but with a twist this time: The words are etched into the glass from opposing sides, so you can read both “ziehen” (pull) and “drücken” (push) from either side. Really confusing.” -Don Norman, http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/when_bugs_become_fea.html


There are more things that can be done wrong than right and it is often the few things done wrong that can undo all the things done right. A door is a simple thing with normally only 2 things you can do, push or pull but all things must be considered. The handles, way it moved, material (can you see thought it, is it same materiel as a wall). Many things I only realized by watching others use it and considering many problems.


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