Norman Doors

photo by Alexander Oberdörster, Institute of Applied Sciences, Albert Ludwig University, Freiburg, Germany

Don Norman’s proverbial glass door shows how the error of affordance, can lead to a piece of art that stimulates conversation. A lack of affordance leads to low learnability, but, in the eyes of this thesis, an error of affordance can lead to new knowledge when rewarded through play.


“As you can see, it’s not clear whether to push or pull the door to get inside. Nothing new so far; and of course, the door has its manual written on it (even in multiple languages!), but with a twist this time: The words are etched into the glass from opposing sides, so you can read both “ziehen” (pull) and “drücken” (push) from either side. Really confusing.”
- Alexander Oberdörster

Norman Doors are doors that are, within Do Norman’s circle, poorly designed doors. The Glass Door in question is a doors that only open in one direction, but identical looking “pull” handles were installed on both sides of the door, making it extremely unclear as to push or pull the door open. The words pull and push are etched into each side of the door in several languages, meaning the user can read both – adding to the confusing experience of how to open the door.

  1. 1. Post-it » Blog Archive » Error of Affordance, said on 23.09.09

    [...] error of affordance (Don Norman’s Glass Door) can lead to a piece of art that stimulates conversation. An error of affordance that can lead to [...]