In browsing the site today, I came across a question about doors somewhat related to something I’ve been wondering for a LONG LONG time:
Why don’t we remove all door handles and let doors open both inwards and outwards?
I have lost count how many times I failed to open a door the first time I grabbed the handle, mainly because of the consistency problem:
- Some doors open inwards, some outwards.
- Doors in some countries open inwards, some outwards, some either way.
- Door handles come in way too many styles: knob, lever, car door style, vertical bar, etc.
- Door handles are positioned sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right hand side of the door (in the case of lever-style, will make left- or right-handed people grip the handle in an awkward way)
- So-called "local conventions" are regularly violated
I can understand that there’re historical and cultural reasons with people getting used to the way doors open growing up. However, as the world is getting flat, people traveling and immigrating everywhere now, shouldn’t the design of the door be evolved somehow?
What about this design?
Remove the handle completely, let doors open both ways (inwards and outwards) and just let people push the door swing open the direction they are going towards.
Naturally, removing the handle and letting doors open both ways would solve many usability problems:
- Remove the confusion regarding which way to turn the handle
- Remove confusion regarding which hand (left/right) they need to use
- Usable by both left- and right-handed people
- Remove the confusion about whether we need to push or pull (always push now, as there's no handle to pull)
- People can always keep moving forward after opening the door
From a UX perspective, what would be the reason for arguing against that solution? I'd also wonder if there's some kind of study about this.
Update - Regarding the door smacking another person coming from the opposition direction, the same risk occurs in the current designs. We can never be sure if somebody is behind the door when we push it open. And that person is never sure which way the door is going to open either (towards or away from them). So he will always be in a defensive position anyway.