Tog on Keyboard Shortcuts vs. Using the Mouse

Bruce Tognazzini, back in 1989:

We’ve done a cool $50 million of R&D on the Apple Human Interface. We discovered, among other things, two pertinent facts:

  • Test subjects consistently report that keyboarding is faster than mousing.
  • The stopwatch consistently proves mousing is faster than keyboarding.

This contradiction between user-experience and reality apparently forms the basis for many user/developers’ belief that the keyboard is faster. […]

It takes two seconds to decide upon which special-function key to press. Deciding among abstract symbols is a high-level cognitive function. Not only is this decision not boring, the user actually experiences amnesia! Real amnesia! The time-slice spent making the decision simply ceases to exist.

I read this long ago in Tognazzini’s Tog on Interface, and have been looking for a URL to it for years. Found it via the aforelinked article by Scott Stevenson.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007