Push or Pull?

In the building I work, we have a pair of large metal-framed glass doors in the central corridor. I presume they are fire doors. Anyhow, it is not obvious whether you push or pull on them. So, they had lettering put on the doors, near the handles, to let you know if you should push or pull.

I don't think it made much difference because I, and others, still push or pull at the wrong time. I think this falls in the category of poor user interface design. The problem is that putting the lettering near the handle is pointless, unless you have never used a door before and have to think about grabbing the handle. For most of us, this is an automatic reflex and we simply reach out for where we expect the handle to be and then push or pull. We keep our eyes pointed straight ahead, there is no need for us to lower them and look at the handle.

Image nabbed from here.


It's that 50/50 thing. I blame it on Murphy's law.
tin-tin said…
when i see a door, the first instinct i would do is always push :)
Hmmm...can't even recall, but I think I may actually look at the doorhandle because of my poor dexterity or just plain Klutzyness! Half the time I do the opposite of what I'm to do even if I've done that same door before!

I'm also ridiculously unable to get keys to work! Those Canada Post Box keys for parcels never work for me! And the credit card type keys at Hotels now? I can't get the trick to using them either!

I'm a ditz at some stuff!
freckled-one said…
I tend to pull but just this last Wednesday I was entering a large conference room full of people and pulled when I should have pushed. It was noisy and drew lots of unwanted attention. From now on I think I'll be more apt to look before I pull.
ghee said…
I have the same troubles when I first came to Japan.

There were instructions written in Japanese.I used to push the doors,but some doors needed to be pulled.

Not only that,some needed to be slided.they have lots of sliding doors here.Now,I am so used to it,although I still cant help my usual thing..,to push.
Norman said…
Oh for the days when we had to deal only with design problems, as opposed to handling far more complex issues such as "poor user interface design"?
Ancilla said…
maybe it also because we are not sure the cleanliness of the handle :p
the same thing happens in the public restrooms, right?

or, let the door-boy open the door for us... huehehehe....
Coffee fairy said…
my instinct if there is a handle (except door knob) is to pull, if there's none I push. However, just this morning in the office I went to, there were handles on both sides of the door so I got it correctly by pulling but when I was going out I pulled again but I should've pushed. And yes, there was a big sign of push that I read on my way out, so I agree that signs dont really work.
Richard said…
man with the fun: if it is 50-50 I would say it is random chance. But I am sure Murphy is lurking around somewhere.

tin-tin: I try to read clues from the door, such as, does the placement of the door and door jamb require me to push or pull. Since there is no central column, no central door jamb - I lose orientation. I suppose I could move my eyes to the outside of the door and get my bearing from the door hinges. Bleh.

MOI: as mentioned to tin-tin, the primary problem is that you wouldn’t expect to have to change your gaze. Normally, I believe, you would take your cue from the door and the central jamb. In this case there isn't one. One place I have problems with is bank doors that read your debit card to let you in. The problem is that I never know which way the card is supposed to go in. Even the picture they provide is rarely straightforward.

freckled-one: those conference room doors probably lack visual cues that would have allowed you to sort out which way to push/pull the door.

ghee: adding sliding doors to the mix would probably make it more confusing. Here, sliding doors (aside from patio doors) are almost always automatic.

Norman: I was actually going to gripe about user interface designs too. It is pretty amazing how much poor usability we put up with. On the other hand, the only reason we put up with it is because natural resistance to change, once we learn something, we just keep doing it that way.

ancilla: I definitely hate public washroom doors that open inward. Often trying to lodge my foot in the door while drying my hands.

coffee fairy: I thin kit is because the signs are in the wrong place. If they were right in front of were your eyes are looking as you approach the door, they would be more effective.
I'm pretty much a simpleton at working those bank cards too....even once I'm at the teller's! I seem to need more repetitions for learning than most others! Scary!

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