The Norman door

This is supremely a Mary, Queen of Scots, Not Dead Yet posting: a brief posting that I hope you’ll find both entertaining and informative, while showing that I’m Still Standing, despite a run of extremely unpleasant days, taken up almost entirely with writhing in pain and with sleep, the sleep of exhaustion and scary narcoleptic sleep. But here, a moment of sunshine.

Supplied by Mike Pope a few hours ago with this photo from real life:


(#1) MP writes: Documentation solves another design issue … An interesting variant on the Norman door

(MP is a regular source of material for this blog; WordPress tells me I have cited him in 30 postings so far. He is also — and this is ¬†absolutely relevant to his comment — a technical editor at Google. Explanation and documentation are his business.)

My responses to MP on Facebook (somewhat amended here):

Not every reader will get this reference. A Norman door is not, as you might have imagined, a door characteristic of Norman architecture, in churches in particular, but a badly designed door, a door whose mode of use — push or pull?, up or down?, left / counterclockwise or right / clockwise? — is unclear from the door’s design, and must be indicated by symbols (as above) or verbal instructions: by auxiliary documentation.

The Norman door is named after Don Norman, who pointedly complained about them in his excellent book The Design of Everyday Things (1988).

(As a side note: I’m pleased to say that Don, though retired, continues his work. Since he’s 5 years older than I am, and I’m just barely hanging on, I’m doubly pleased.)

Then there’s Norman Door & Plywood, a specialty lumber company in Norman OK:


(#2) The Norman Door logo — a nice piece of graphic design, by the way

Meanwhile, linguists at the LSA annual meeting in Denver have posted, some in bafflement, about the instructions the conference hotel provides on how to use the elevators. From Monica Macaulay:


(#3) Documented, but then what?

One Response to “The Norman door”

  1. Michael Newman Says:

    Not a Norman door (of not the Donald nor French region nor conquered English origin) but a Normandy door, with an interesting history that can be found right in my neighborhood: https://untappedcities.com/2021/05/07/lost-ss-normandie-doors-brooklyn-church/

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: