Make It More Usable!

Time again for a Make It More Usable! post.

This usability issue applies not just to library buildings, but to all public buildings in general, and it’s a very simple issue:  doors.

More specifically, I’m referring to two problematic door designs.

(1) Doors that are confusing to open:


This picture is a good example as it illustrates a common problem. On which side of the door do you push to open?

I’ve encountered these types of doors many times, and it’s always inevitable that I end up pushing on the wrong side of the door.

How to make it more usable?  Doors should communicate 2 important pieces of information to people:  (a) whether it should be pushed or pulled and (b) which side of the door should be maneuvered.  (Revolving doors and automatic sliding doors are two obvious exceptions to this).  Ideally, door handles should be placed on only one side of the door.  The handle designs should also make it clear as to whether they should be pushed or pulled; if the handle designs do not communicate this information, then the words “Push” or “Pull” should be indicated on or near the handles.

(2) Opaque doors:

This issue isn’t just about usability, it’s also about safety. Although I understand that in some cases, certain doors should not have windows due to privacy reasons, users can benefit greatly from see-through doors.  The problem is simple:  doors that are completely opaque prevent users from knowing whether someone is on the other side of the door; consequently, the door can suddenly swing open and potentially cause injury.  Opaque doors also prevent users from knowing whether a room is occupied, which could cause them to interrupt private meetings (assuming the door is unlocked).

How to make it more usable?  Whether the door is entirely made of glass or just partially, implementing see-through doors can prevent unnecessary injuries and interruptions.

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About intelligentuxdesign

I am the Assessment and User Experience Librarian at the University of Dayton Libraries. I am a graduate of Kent State University, where I received a Master of Library and Information Science degree in August 2011 and a Master of Science degree in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management with a concentration in User Experience Design in May 2012. My professional interests include usability, user experience design, information architecture, visual and information design, human-computer interaction, information technologies, and outreach services.
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