Design Of Everyday Things: Doors

3 Jul

Doors. We use them multiple times every day, everywhere. Home, office, shop, airport. Doors are so integral to our lives that we never pause to think about their design.

Wait. What? Doors are beautiful or ugly, they open and shut. What is there to think about?

Stupid people or stupid design?

This is the front door in my office. It’s beautiful. It’s pulled from inside or pushed from outside to open it. Even after using it for five years, I sometimes make a mistake and do the opposite. I have seen many people make the same mistake. Why can’t we open a simple door? Are we stupid? Or the designer of the door had other ideas?

What do the smaller handles on the inside and longer handles on the outside convey? That the smaller handle means it should be pulled and the longer handle means it should be pushed? This seems to be the thinking behind the design of this door. Unfortunately, no such convention exists.

Don’t make me think
Below is the restroom door in my office. There is only one way to open it from outside – by pushing it. A simple plate on the door, no thinking required. A handle on the inside indicates that it needs to be pulled.

Here is the emergency exit. Again, there is only one way to open it. By restricting the things we can do with a door to only one, it’s a simple and powerful design that can save lives during a fire.

Some doors open on both sides. If possible, this would be the best design. It would work for everyone. A door should not make us think how we should open it. That would be stupid design.

Related readings
Design Of Everyday Things


One Response to “Design Of Everyday Things: Doors”


  1. The doors at my work are poorly designed | Effective Problems - October 28, 2012

    […] I learned to look out for this stuff after reading The Design of Everyday Things. This guy did a good job of summarizing the thoughts around Door Design.  […]

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