norman doors

Have you ever had troubles going through a door, maybe pulling instead of pushing and vice versa? Then you may have found a Norman door.

What is a Norman door? 
No it’s not a door dated back to the times of Normans! – ok I know, nobody wants to be an acquaintance of my bad humor…sorry-.

Norman doors take the name from Donald A. Norman, psychologist and engineer.

Thanks to him we can give the fault for when we step into glass doors, to their design! I don’t know if it’s a positive thing or not for me since I would like to be a designer.

How can we recognize a Norman door? 

First of all, you may have had an accident with it, secondly when you have it in front of you, you don’t know what to do, pull, push, die?

An example Mr. Norman does, is the one of his friend, let’s call him xx, that was going into a public office, and he had to go through 2 doors. The first one opened without problems, the second one didn’t. He moved a little to the left, and the other glass door couldn’t be opened.

What’s wrong with xx’s door?


  1.  He had fake signifiers (something that help us understand where the action should take place) so xx couldn’t understand whether he had to pull or push.
  2. The doors were made of glass and didn’t had a simple handle, it was design made for aesthetics and not for being used by humans.

norman doorWhat can teach us a Norman door?

You can learn how not-to-step-into them, so you’re gonna avoid a bump.

The point is that we make a mistake into blaming ourselves for bad designs, if we can’t use a pc, or we make the same error over and over, we usually don’t blame the poor design. Instead, we blame our capabilities, why?

Because we consider machines as logical, and something we should adapt to.

But the truth is that machines are made by humans, who are not logical, and that, as designers, should have planned the machine in a way to prepare the object to ours errors, or modify it so the error won’t exist anymore.

If we get overwhelmed by anxiety if a device doesn’t give us feedback, than create some feedback!

The same thing happened to me and my boyfriend when we were trying to fix his new nexus tablet who didn’t give signs of life ( ok, I was just trying to calm him down). It was hilarious, him panicking because of a brand new (used) tablet who didn’t gave feedback. At least we can say it was a british one… all day in Brighton to buy it!

To sum up, Norman doors, are a practical example of how a designer SHOULDN’T DESIGN: designers should think about all ranges of possible errors and design for humans, wonder why I love renaissance architecture? At that time everything was anthropocentric!

Things for man, thought for man, considering “human errors” not as errors but as a behaving-scheme.

Hope you liked this little article, kisses!