This is not the entrance

25Oct12

The last few times I’ve gone out to breakfast, I’ve watched an amusing scene unfold. You see, the restaurant in question was constructed without a revolving door. As temperatures have fallen, this means that a harsh gust of wind blows right through the standard door each time someone opens it. To remedy the situation, the restaurant decided to use a separate enclosed walkway as their so-called winter entrance, and direct customers to that door instead.

What’s so funny about this? I typically sit near the inoperable door, and it’s incredible to watch how many people walk up, stare at the door incredulously, and even try to open it. This occurs despite numerous cues showing that the entrance door has been moved, including printed signs, brightly-colored arrows, and even a fall decorative display blocking half of the door opening. Eventually, they give up and walk over to the second entrance.

As this experience illustrates, people are creatures of habit, and it’s hard to retrain them once they’ve gotten accustomed to something. To get customers to follow a request, you might need to take things to a near-comical level. Returning to my example, I’d love to see what would happen if the restaurant covered the entire inside door frame with giant text saying “This is not the entrance”, or even removed the outside handle from the door. While they might still get a few confused customers, I bet a larger percentage of people would figure out which door to use on the first try.



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