Street Use

Mismatched Makeshift Door Handle

It’s all in the details. Why do door handles need to be symmetrical? In fact there may be good reasons to have them different — perhaps to invite visitors to use one side before the other. But in this case it looks like it’s simply a sign that one can purchase a replacement part of one type but not the other. In other words one side is more repairable then the other. Much of street use is repair work. And sometimes repair work is improvement. A good question surfaces: with this repair is one side of the door now more usable than the other? If you came upon this unequal set, which side would you reach for? Thanks to Splintered*Light for posting this on Flickr.

Door Handle

Posted on September 14, 2006 at 12:38 am | comments

  • eli

    I’d pick the one on the right, unless my hands were full. Then I’d just stand there and wait for someone else to open it.

  • Which is more usable? Reach out with your hand as if you are about to pull something to yourself. Do that a number of times. Did your natural grasp match the vertical bar or the horizontal handle? That’s one test.

    Here is a completely different test. Which handle is larger, and allows a less precise grab? Is this an example of Fitts’ law?

    From these experiments, did you conclude that the vertical handle with its larger target size on the left is a more usable handle?

    Lastly, the keyhole in the horizontal handle gives a visual cue that MAYBE the right side one could be lockable. Not wanting to risk pulling on a locked door, might your mind guide you to the one without an apparent lock?

    Finally, the rust on the right handle doesn’t look appealing. I’m not gonna touch that!