Keyboard quality matters

I spent much of the day today working on a slightly older model HP Compac laptop.

To be as plain as I can: the keyboard was utterly atrocious. To say the keys are mushy is an understatement. To say the designers lacked a sense of aesthetic pleasure would only be slightly less obvious than to say that they had no concept of the value of ergonomics.

When I returned home and started typing on my 2007-era Macbook Pro, I experienced an immediate (although not immediately conscious) sense of tactile pleasure. Within a very brief time, the consciousness of this pleasure had risen to the forefront of my mind – the experience of typing was no longer a source of frustration, and this was a notable difference from my experience earlier in the day.

Keyboard quality matters. There is a reason Apple products continue to sell well, and it is not (as so many have intimated) some cultish phenomenon. Rather, the phenomenon is a response to well-designed machines that put the user’s experience at the forefront.

There is a lesson here for all designers, including web designers. It is possible that people will not consciously notice if we do our jobs badly. It is even possible that they will not consciously notice if we do our jobs well. However, the reality is that the pleasure inherent in using something well-designed and well-crafted does make a difference in our productivity.

Pleasure, as it turns out, is not an incidental component of good design. It is essential.

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