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The Norman Door

There is a design phenomenon that plagues our everyday lives. It is something you will probably encounter today on your commute to work, in your workplace, or on your lunch break, and it is something you will come across time and time again for the rest of your life. That phenomenon is the Norman Door.

Coined by Don Norman, director of The Design Lab at the University of California, the Norman Door is defined as “a poorly designed door that confuses or fails to give you an idea whether to push or pull”.

Apart from being an almost daily annoyance, the Norman Door acts as an unofficial symbol for unsuccessful design. A door is a relatively simple object, so for one to fail to clearly communicate its functionality shows an almost intentional lack of consideration for the end-user.

The principle behind the Norman Door is in no way limited to doors. End-user consideration should apply to all design, whether it’s in the physical, digital, or printed space.

Essentially, everything that is designed should be designed much like a door. It should invite the audience to easily enter into an experience and tell them what to expect when they do so. Unfortunately a lot of design fails to achieve this. There are a lot of messages that can be told in a much better way. No one wants to encounter frustrating or confusing design. If someone has the option to use another door, they will simply use another door.

Every brief we receive we approach in this way. We ask, how do we want people to use this? How do we lead them through it effortlessly? And how do we want them to come through the other side? What is the message? What is the call to action?

It’s integral that your audience navigates your message in the way you want them to. If you feel that you’re currently placing Norman Doors along your audience’s journey then we can help you make their experience a smoother one.

Swing by. Our door is always open.