Understandable Bathroom Locks

Consistency and Standards

From the course website: Consistency and Standards refers to the idea that products our to be consistent with industry standards and with other versions of the the product (on different platforms, for example). Sometimes these two different types of consistency can come in conflict and designers will have to choose whether to prioritize consistency with the industry or consistency with other version of the product.


Positive Example: Locks in a public bathroom






This public bathroom in Kirkland House has one door, and the lock is consistent with industry standards. The door’s locked position looks clearly different from the the door’s unlocked position, and by seeing the physical mechanism of the lock itself, users know to push the little tube into the opening on the right to lock the door. No counterintuitive turning of a lock is involved because the user simply pushes a small bar in the only direction it can go.


Negative Example: Locks on my own bathroom

Door 1, Unlocked



Door 1, Locked



Door 2, Unlocked



Door 2, Unlocked    


My dorm bathroom has two doors, but the locks are not consistent nor standard. The position of Door 1’s lock looks the same  for “locked” and “unlocked, “ and the same occurs for Door 2, so users do not know if the doors are locked or unlocked at any given moment.  In order to lock Door 1, the user must turn the lock counterclockwise, but in order to lock Door 2, the user must turn the lock clockwise, which causes a lot of confusion. Locking the door requires the user to turn the lock in the opposite direction from the door, which is counterintuitive. Furthermore, the two doors’ positions on the locks do not even match each other, let alone the industry standard, since Door 1 is always horizontal and Door 2 is always slanted downward in any case.


Negative Example Redesigned






In this redesigned bathroom lock, the user clearly understands when her door is unlocked or locked. Not only does the new design give users written indicators of what position the lock is in, it also provides arrows suggesting the direction to move the lock in. This is consistent with industry standards because many locks use turning locks with clear positions representing when the door is locked and when the door is unlocked. In addition, the positions are different for “locked” and “unlocked,” solving the most fundamental issue with the negative example of my dorm bathroom’s locks.

About the author: michaelhe

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