Magnets and Norman Doors

Design Principle(s): Consistency and Match between System and Real World

Poor Design:

  • The sign reads “CAREFUL – To release the door stop, push, DON’T pull!” and the smaller yellow one says “please PUSH OPEN TO RELEASE DOORSTOP. DO NOT FORCE DOOR CLOSED! (you’ll damage the stop)”
  • The door clearly lacks a match between the system and the real world, obviously the sign indicates that users try to pull the door instead of push. This is the intuitive motion when trying to close the door, why would you think to push the bar when trying to swing the door in the opposite way?
  • It also violates consistency as seen by the next example, doors should be consistent, especially in the same building.










Better Design:

  • This door has a magnet to keep it open instead of a stop, allowing the user to pull it to “unstop” it rather than push, which creates a match between the system and the real world as the user is more inclined to pull the door closed than push it.



IMG_2665 copyI would take the magnet concept from the better door and apply it to the environment of the badly designed door.  I wouldn’t just add the same magn
et stopper because then it would be in the middle of the hall, an obstacle (not hidden in the corner like the picture above).  I would have a magnet on the bottom of the door that sticks out when it is opened a certain amount, and the floor would have a magnet on it in the proper place, but not sticking out (as seen above) where someone could trip.



About the author: Frances Shapiro

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