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17 March, 2006

Door closed: does not compute

A while ago, I wrote about the potentially-confusing design of Intercity train doors, and the idea that it's not a matter of improving signage or audible warnings; the doors need to 'Just Work'.

Every day this week, the main entrance to my building has been locked, to deter any protest invasion by the hippies camping outside. There are three doors: the one on the left obviously isn't in use, the central one is a revolving door with an ingenious revolving 'shutter' currently in place (i.e. the whole door is masked), and the 'normal' door on the right is locked, displaying a very obvious sign. The sign (the only one on the whole entrance frontage; it's not exactly lost amongst several other notices) states "Please Use The Side Entrance", in ~40pt. text. It couldn't be clearer.

Yet at least twice per day this week, I've seen people approach the revolving door, find it's inaccessible, push in vain on the right-hand door, turn to the left door, then give up and start to walk away, scowling. Whenever I've pointed the sign out to people, it's been plain that they were literally unaware of a 40 x 30cm (16½ x 12") sheet of white paper at about head height, stating a clear message in large black type.

What more could be done? People simply don't read. Some things have to 'Just Work', and no amount of signage will help. If it doesn't do exactly what's expected, in the expected way, it won't work at all for a significant number of people.


*looks ashamed* - I've done exactly that :)

I think the problem is that people don't expect to see the sign there.. so no matter how huge it is, people will still not see it. You normally don't expect those doors to be locked :)

Posted by cds at March 17, 2006 06:43 PM
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