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.
People new to the mouse find the process of acquiring it every time they want to do anything other than type to be incredibly time-wasting. And therein lies the very advantage of the mouse: it is boring to find it because the two-second search does not require high-level cognitive engagement.
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.
While the keyboard users in this case feels as though they have gained two seconds over the mouse users, the opposite is really the case. Because while the keyboard users have been engaged in a process so fascinating that they have experienced amnesia, the mouse users have been so disengaged that they have been able to continue thinking about the task they are trying to accomplish. They have not had to set their task aside to think about or remember abstract symbols.
Hence, users achieve a significant productivity increase with the mouse in spite of their subjective experience.