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Stupid Doors

I’m sitting at a Starbucks, watching with amazement at how many people coming in and going out can’t properly operate the doors.

In usability circles, these are a classic example of what are unaffectionately known as “Norman Doors”.

How bad is this particular set of doors? I couldn’t open the door on my first attempt today, and this was my Starbucks for years when I worked on Market street, a convenient few steps from my evening bus stop.

And here’s the research to show you I’m not an idiot:

For 20 minutes, I counted all the people who opened the door, excluding those who piggy-backed. 22 out of 56 (39%) failed to succeed on their first attempt! If I had excluded those people who clearly had seen which direction the door opened prior to opening it, the percentage of failure would have been even higher.

What’s the problem? The horizontal bar on the outside that must be pushed on is the perfect diameter to grab—an affordance that tells our brains that we should grab it and pull.

Which brings up an interesting survey question. Should the doors on a coffee shop open inward or outwards? To me, the answer is obvious, but I’m curious what your opinion is.

Posted in Design, Usability.

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