Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Mobile Phone Keyboard Redesign

A normal keyboard way designed to be typed with both hands, ten fingers.

A mobile phone Keyboard was just a copy.

Using Fitts law, I think the mobile phone keyboard should be redesigned for one or two fingers. The keyboard would be circular, with the most used keys towards the center. Just like a normal keyboard's most used keys are the home keys.

Would this increase speed and efficiency for user?

Would this be a bad idea for a mobile phone company to come out with this?

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

share|improve this question
5  
Conventions beat good engineering at a certain point. Keyboards are so far past that point it's not remotely funny. See also What are the benefits of non-QWERTY keyboards? –  Ben Brocka Jul 22 '12 at 3:05
2  
Possible duplicate of: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/22712/… –  Danny Varod Jul 22 '12 at 9:54
1  
Oh no! Not yet another Fitts reference :-P –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Jul 22 '12 at 14:17
    
As someone who learnt to touch type - I don't actually 'know' (consciously) the keyboard layout. Only my fingers know where the letters are. So having a mobile keyboard in the same format is actually no help to me at all. –  PhillipW Jul 22 '12 at 19:32
    
To answer your question anyway: there is such a keyboard: youtube.com/watch?v=q3OuCR0EpGo –  rikkit Jul 24 '12 at 10:39
add comment

5 Answers

Keyboards used today are designed after the success found in the typewriter. One of the main reason the the keys are laid out the way they are is because they keys have been placed in such a way that as a user types the machines would be less likely to bind up mechanically. As such QWERTY is simply the most popular layout of them all.

I believe the main reason we still see this layout today is because it has been come the standard convention that users are expecting to see it. The benefits of switching layouts is really up to the user. If the user can type faster with a different layout and the speed increase beats the learning curve of another layout, I would say go for it. Since soft keyboards on mobile phones are just another software package, a user could easily download and install the layout that they feel works best.

Would this be a bad idea for a mobile phone company to come out with this?

While the idea of implementing a custom keyboard on a vendors mobile phone is very possible. I don't think you will ever see a company release a mobile phone with a different default keyboard than what its user base primarily used. In the US the QWERTY keyboard would be the default. This is mainly because most user know where the keys are already, to change the layout would cause a large amount of initial frustration to its user base.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It looks like someone else has been thinking along these lines in 2004:

http://www.esato.com/board/viewtopic.php?topic=59621

Over the years, people have tried to get various different kinds of keyboard setups adopted, arguing very logically that QWERTY was designed to stop typewriters from jamming, which makes no sense today, but the learning overhead is simply too high for widespread adoption. If you can remember learning how to type on qwerty, it didn't become intuitive until you'd practiced for quite a long time.

If you look at the link above, and imagine using that, consider two factors: 1. How quickly could you learn that 2. How much faster could you type?

If the answer to 2. is "not very" then the effort required in 1. becomes a dealbreaker. And since we're talking about an essential, non-optional part of the interface causing a longish period of frustration, I doubt a manufacturer of a phone like this sell many units.

share|improve this answer
    
"arguing very logically that QWERTY was designed to stop typewriters from jamming" This may be an urban legend. QWERTY may also have been designed so that "Typewriter" is all in the top row, for quick demos...or that might be an urban legend too. –  Alex Feinman Jul 24 '12 at 14:45
add comment

You are dealing with different set of constraints on mobile keyboards than you are on normal-sized keyboards. So the optimal solution for improving typing isn't necessary the same as the one for physical keyboards.

On mobile devices, constraints are:

  1. You are typing with two thumbs - This slows down your typing, because you only have one stand-by finger (i.e. your other thumb) to hit the subsequent key, rather than 8.

  2. Keys are small and have no tactile boundaries. - This leads to far more typing errors.

  3. There are so many devices with varying screen sizes and touch-screen sensitivities - There's no guarantee that one ergonomic solution will work equally well across different devices.

These three constraints are not something that can be best remedied by alternate keyboard layout. Instead, we have things like auto-correct, auto-suggest, and improved speech-to-text to reduce the need for typing altogether. (accurate touchscreen mapping and haptic feedback help too)

share|improve this answer
add comment

Why would alphabetical order be the right order for typing? The only benefit it has is that it's the canonical ordering, but when using the letters to form words, it makes no sense.

You might ask why keyboards don't use ETAOIN SHRDLU instead, which has to do more with convention than anything else.

share|improve this answer
add comment

From the article on Fitts's Law on Wikipedia:

"It describes untrained movements, not movements that are executed after months or years of practice (though some argue that Fitts's law models behaviour that is so low level that extensive training doesn't make much difference)."

share|improve this answer
    
was this not appropriate to point out given the question? –  Shash Jul 25 '12 at 7:27
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.