Most believe that it’s for the same reason that exterior doors open inwards – it has always been done that way. But there are several benefits that we should not overlook. The doorknob is a necessary component to allow people to open doors. Historically, door knobs were made out of brass or other materials that could withstand the elements. While door knobs may seem like a small detail, they are an important part of our daily lives. Important because they are frequently used.
But why do we have door knobs when we can have door handles? Let’s look at some key UX benefits of door knobs today:
Easier to grip
While it is well understood that elderly prefer door handles over door knobs, it’s important to note that door knobs are easier to grip, especially for people with arthritis or other conditions that affect their hands.
This being said, note that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recommends against door knobs, but does not require lever handles.
Bad UX for animals
Door knobs provide a bad user experience for bears (and pets). I know, it’s odd. However, one newspaper columnist in the pro-knob camp has noted that the velociraptors in “Jurassic Park” were able to open doors by their handles.
Left-handedness or Right-handedness
Door knobs can be installed on either side of the door, which is not the case with door handles. This is especially important for people who are left-handed. That being said, it’s important to mark which way the knob opens.
Aesthetically pleasing and comfortable
Door knobs are more aesthetically pleasing than door handles. They are also more comfortable to use, as they fit nicely in the palm of your hand.
Additional benefits include more protection for children as compared to door handles, things don’t get caught on to them easily.
While door handles may be more practical, door knobs will likely continue to be used in homes and businesses for many years to come. So there are several reasons for the existence of door knobs even in this day and age.