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The Design of Everyday Things

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Have you ever approached a door that you thought should be pushed when actually it needed to be pulled? The design elements of the door suggested the wrong functionality. The door pictured above opens into Kansas State University's Cardwell Hall. The flat panel suggests that the door is to be pushed, when actually the door needs to be pulled in order to open. When first encountering this door, I routinely made the mistake of pushing. Lot's of people do. Even when taking the picture above, I witnessed a student attempting to open the door incorrectly. In the design world, this is known as a Norman Door after Don Norman; cognitive scientist, usability engineer, and author of The Design of Everyday Things.

Encounters with Norman Doors can be frustrating and even embarrassing as you falsely attempt a simple and routine action. But are you at fault or is the design? In The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman proposes the fault lies not on us but in design that ignores the needs …