The role of visual search in the design of effective soft keyboards
As portable, handheld computing devices become more common, alternatives to traditional keyboards must be explored. These alternatives must be compact, lightweight and sufficiently efficient to support the users' tasks. One alternative is the use of small physical keyboards or soft keyboards presented on touch-sensitive surfaces. Many alternative layouts have been explored, including the QWERTY, Dvorak, telephone and various alphabetic organizations. Soukoreff and MacKenzie proposed a model to predict typing times for alternative layouts, but have experienced limited success matching their predictions to observed performance. This paper proposes a revision of the visual search component of their model that considers the familiarity of the organization and the number of letters represented by each key. Results are reported of an experiment that supports the claim that both familiarity and the number of letters per key must be considered when predicting visual search times for alternative keyboard layouts.