Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keyboard vs. Mouse

When it comes to speed nothing beats keyboard shortcuts. First time users of Gigantt often start out by using the mouse quite a lot: clicking on buttons, zooming in and out with the mouse wheel. But once they learn the keyboard shortcut alternatives they usually adopt them and don't look back. Ten fingers are faster than two fingers.


Keyboard shortcuts also have the advantage of not cluttering up the screen with endless buttons and menus. But there's a UX price to pay - a steeper learning curve. For everything but the most obvious and intuitive keyboard shortcuts, like ESC (cancel), Ctrl+C (copy), there's no getting around the fact that users probably won't be able to guess which key-combo corresponds to which feature.


We still try our best to make sure keyboard shortcuts are as intuitive as possible. For example:


D - Mark a task as done
I - Implode a few tasks into one complex task
E - Explode a complex task into several tasks (the opposite of implode)
L - Create a link between tasks
DEL - deletes anything selected
INSERT - inserts a new task.


See? It all makes sense...


Until now nearly all mouse operations had keyboard alternatives. I say nearly because there's one thing you still couldn't do: select and manipulate arrows between tasks. Now you can. 




The Up & Down keys still navigate between tasks according to their vertical order. If you want to select the arrow into the current task, just hit Left. You can then delete the arrow with DEL, insert an intermediate task with INSERT, and so on. If there are more than one arrow you can move between arrows with Up/Down as well.


These new shortcut solve a painful UX problem: switching input modes. No matter which you prefer, mouse or keyboard, having to constantly switch between them is a real speed bump. So rejoice, fellow typists! From this day on no feature is beyond your keyboard's reach.



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