If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that paying attention to the things that everyone else takes for granted can pay off when you're a user experience designer. It's our job to not simply climb over the obstacles as most people do but rather to stop, observe and inquire how the experience might be improved.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a Starbucks near my house writing at a small table by the window facing the door. I love going to cafes and getting a little people time when I've been holed up in my cave for longer than usual. But after a few minutes I began to register a scene that played out over and over. A person would approach the door, invariably with their hands full, juggle their drinks, reach out and pull the door handle...and bang. The door would resist, they would read and finally push to head out the door. After 90-minutes of watching this happen with over 80 percent of the customers, I got up to look at what was happening.
What do you notice about this picture? Well, to me...this is a good example of how the little things in our world fail to communicate effectively. Notice the pull sign but the handle on the door. This provides mixed signals. A handle indicates to most of us that we should pull. Even the addition of panels the same color as the handle would help communicate. But realistically, the best communication of all would be to remove the handle on this side and leave the push instructions. I'm great with not being able to make a mistake...even if it is only at the door to Starbucks.
A couple weeks later, I was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium when I noticed an excellent example of this type of door, going in the opposite direction. There's only one way to interact in either direction.
Have you noticed any of these types of mismatches in your day-to-day?