How to design doors to be less confusing
You’ve encountered a door like this. One that looks like you should pull on it, but really you’re supposed to push. Those doors you hate have a name: “Norman doors.”
They’re named after Don Norman, a UC San Diego cognitive scientist, who identified this phenomena in his book “The Design of Everyday Things.”
According to Norman, pushing on a door that says “pull” isn’t necessarily your fault. It is just poorly designed.
So what’s the solution to this mess?
Norman explains two principles of design that make objects, including doors, more intuitive to use.
One is discoverability — that is, just by looking at the door, you should be able to detect what you could do with it. So a door with only a flap would be more intuitively interpreted as something you push on rather than pull.
A well-designed object should also provide you feedback while using it.
Feedback involves any visible, tactile, auditory or sensible reactions that help signal whether your attempted use of the object was successful. In the case of doors, the twistable knobs would signal to you whether the door is locked or not.
And perhaps the true test of a well-designed door may be whether your family cat can open it with ease.