Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Bad Designs: Which Way Does the Door Open?

Bad Designs: Which Way Does the Door Open?
[人因工程 ]

Bad Designs: Which Way Does the Door Open?

Can you guess which end of the bar to push in order to open the center door? The door provides no obvious visual clue. If you push on the wrong end of the bar -- the end closer to the door hinge -- it is very difficult to open the door, it takes a great deal of force.

Design Recommendation:

One solution to this problem would be to add an easy-to-push surface to the bar on the end closer to the latch. This surface could merely be a thickening of the bar or it could be a flat plate, but it should look like something that would be easier to push than the bar itself. This would "invite" people to push on the correct end of the bar.

Editor's Comments:

This example constitutes further evidence, as if it were needed, that false symmetry equals bad design. Doors are not bilaterally symmetrical. They have hinge sides and latch sides. The hinge side remains in place while the latch side travels in an arc. Yet the push bar fails to reflect the reality of the door's inherent asymmetry, to the detriment of end users. Why? Two possibilities come to mind. One, manufacturing expedience. It is easier from a manufacturing perspective to fabricate a simple push bar that is uniform in cross section along its entire length. Two, and this is worse, the designer labors under the misguided belief that symmetrical shapes are "better looking" even when they flagrantly misrepresent how a device actually works. Here the primary responsibility lies with the product designer who "designed" the push bar, while the secondary responsibility lies with the architect who specified the door hardware for the project in question. Again, a case of failing to visualize the impact ones' design decisions have on hapless end users in the real world.

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Bad Designs: Which Way Does the Door Open?
Illustration: Which Way Does the Door Open?
Author: Michael J. Darnell
Affiliation: Bad Human Factors Designs
Source: www.baddesigns.com
Publication Date: 1998-1999
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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