Microsoft has revealed in their blog on how much thoughts had been put into to design the virtual keyboard on Windows 8. It is interesting to see how Microsoft has adopt technology to understand how a person type.
Based on their findings, they confirmed a few assumptions: –
- Most people have developed very strong habits based on the conventions of physical keyboards. When you break these conventions, it slows their typing down appreciably. This even applies to very young folks or dedicated T9 typists, for example, as most of us learn to touch-type in some form at a young age.
- There are optimal targetable sizes of keys. The extensive research Microsoft has done into physical keyboards applied here too. For example, the letter keys on our touch keyboard are 19mm wide, the same as on most physical keyboards, because people showed faster typing speeds with targets of that size (rather than smaller or larger).
- The more keys you include, the more likely people are to make mistakes. This is partly because more keys mean the keys need to be smaller and there’s a greater likelihood of hitting a key you didn’t intend. More keys also create visual clutter and distraction and slow your ability to scan and find a key.
- You don’t want to obscure more than half the display with a keyboard. A too-large keyboard creates a claustrophobic experience and you lose context. However, there is a counter rule that says obscuring about half the display works fine. This is because entering text is most often a “modal” activity, where your focus is very much on typing something and not on the periphery. Your area of focus outside the keyboard is relatively small, and directed toward the characters you’re typing. Our eye-tracking studies, illustrated in this post, demonstrate this.
- People use some keys more than others. We deduce this from analyzing passages of text written in real-world circumstances. There are clear patterns of frequency in the use of letters and symbols.
- People will learn to do new things—and learn quickly—if they don’t interfere with habits.
There are a lot more information on the blog post. Do check it out. Remember to watch the video at the end of the post.