The User Experience Blog

July 16, 2009

Benjamin Floyd, The User Experience. Time for a New Convention?

A convention is simply a standard.  Not the convention hall or a group of people meeting but rather a conventional standard accepted by the mainstream of the population. Only an extreme innovation can break a traditional convention and thus become a new convention in itself.

For example, here are a list of accepted conventions in use today:

  • The numbers laid out on an ATM machine
  • Looking for the shopping cart symbol online to buy something or to check out.
  • The keyboard (which hasn’t drastically changed in close to 80 years).

As some people may know, the majority of websites no longer need the “www” typed at the front of a web address. Most hosting servers ignore the WWW and simply take the unique address, such “theUserExperience.wordpress.com“…there is a quantifiablie metric to give your boss!!! Instead of typing the 3 letters and the “dot”, you have just increased your productivity! Think of how much more company time you can spend surfing the WWW by NOT typing in the WWW. But I digress.

So I am looking at my keyboard the other day and it dawned on me that it is time for an update to the keyboard!  There should be a “.com” button.  Statistically the “.com” address is still by far the most used Internet address extension in use. iPhone has integrated their browser with a “.com” button….why not break the convention of a traditional keyboard and ADD a new button….the “Dot.Com” button. Simply have one button that you click and it puts in a complete “.com” for the address.

So on the front end we are saving the time, steps, and keystrokes by not typing in the “WWW.”, IF you know this information.

But we can carry this over to the back end of the Internet and simply create a new button on each/every keyboard with a “.com” button.
Yes, I am aware that there are keyboards & mice that can be programmed to run an application, put in this extension, a host of things. But this takes time and special skill. What I am proposing is a new convention to the old keyboard by adding one button, strategically placed, that will increase the User Experience by simply clicking one button.

My thoughts: once you used this button for a day, most people would not want to use the older keyboards and would upgrade. Perhaps we can start a stimulus package to recall the old keyboards and start the new ones rolling!!!  🙂

Here is a very rough drawing of where I put the button and how it would take dominance on a keyboard as the Internet has become so integral in most aspects of life.

New Convention with a new Keyboard

New Convention with a new Keyboard by TheUserExperience.Wordpress.coom

Your thoughts? Comments? I would appreciate the feedback on not just this idea but breaking a convention and starting a new one.

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14 Comments »

  1. Perhaps the time has come for the initials ‘BF’ to be updated, from a famous thinker-tinkerer-inventor, who often eschewed convention himself, and in so doing brought about a number of significant changes and improvements, to a more modern thinker-blogger, working with comfort and effectiveness in observation, ideation and suggestion.

    Is it simply coincidence that there be two such inventive Benjamins with last names beginning with the letter ‘F’?

    BF, your posts are not just amusing, but informative and thought-provoking as well.

    As to the ’80-year-old’ keyboard…did you realize the keyboard for Spanish-speaking countries (which use the ‘English’ alphabet) have extra keys already for the double l and the ‘nyon’ n? (tilde on top) as in canyon. (American English spelling of Spanish word)

    I like your idea. Get a patent on it like Dolby did.

    Comment by chris cooper — July 17, 2009 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

  2. I loved this blog – it is very easy to get carried away with your business and look at it from the inside-out instead of the outside-in. It is something every proprietor should remember every so often and could, in effect, bring constant revitalisation to an otherwise staid business.
    Thank you.

    Comment by demhalluk — July 22, 2009 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  3. There is no need for .com, simply type the name and press ctrl-enter at the same time. it’s like magic. Or maybe just a shortcut….

    Comment by Steven Butt — July 22, 2009 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  4. I couldn’t use the button in its current location. When you touch type, that’s where your thumbs rest when you are not using the space bar.

    Comment by Nicki — July 22, 2009 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

    • Well the board would have to be molded a bit larger to fit the key in to begin with. And if you haven’t used a “natural keyboard”, you really should. I am firm believer that once a person uses the natural keyboard for a month, you never go back to a standard keyboard. As you can tell I feel the same way about having an adaptable .com/net/uk whatever button right where there is the perfect location for the thumbs!

      http://www.google.com/profiles/thebejaminfloyd

      Comment by theuserexperience — July 22, 2009 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  5. .com was never meant to be the most common website ending–it was where we were going to put all of the commercial stuff so it didn’t get in the way of the actual, information sharing stuff that the internet was constructed for.

    With ICANN on the verge of releasing thousands of new TLDs (Top Level Domain names), .com is likely to be even less relevant over time. Also, with the .com namespance thoroughly saturated with squatters and speculators, not to mention legitimate websites, more and more services are getting pushed to new domains endings.

    Your keyboard is destined to be a gimmicky niche product which fades away with this brief anomaly in time (~10 years) during which .com was the important ending. Phones, which are disposable on 2 year contracts and all have new interfaces that have to be learned anyway, do have a compelling reason to need this feature.

    Keyboards, which people use over the course of an entire career and have hundreds of hours invested in learning to use quickly and accurately, can’t be so easily changed. Many new special purpose keys have been introduced on keyboards, and failed to catch on. The fact is that it takes most people longer to figure out where that new .com key is and how to hit it than it takes to actually type .com, as usability studies have shown time and again on other special purpose keys.

    None of this really matters, though, because the same usability studies have shown how few people actually enter .com into their browsers. Most of them search their bookmarks, open to google, or simply type the service or company name into their location bar for it to be automatically located for them. Links these days are meant to be clicked, dragged, or cut and pasted. Site URLs from the non-computer world are usually not remembered, even when repeated, so that the URL in an advertisement often has more impact as a simple mechanism for increasing customers likelihood of looking up a website.

    At the end of the day, ideas are good, and we need more of them, but usability studies and practical considerations together bring about solid design.

    Comment by Paul — July 22, 2009 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

  6. Good idea, yet after living out of the USA, I’ve found that many sites use “.es,” “.uk,” etc. instead of “.com”.
    Any suggestions on how you would incorporate other website endings?

    Comment by demallen — July 22, 2009 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

    • How about unique keyboards to that country? A .uk or a .br or such may be the case?

      Or better yet, why not have the key where you can snap it into place yourself, almost like a plastic model airplane. The different buttons could have a contour or bump that when pressed would hit the circuitry in the keyboard, thus producing the .uk or the .ca, .net, etc?

      Empower the end user…not the way the company thinks it should be.

      Comment by theuserexperience — July 22, 2009 @ 11:44 pm | Reply

  7. I like it!

    Comment by twistedmuser — July 22, 2009 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

  8. Most web browsers now do not even require a .com added to the end of typed URLs; if nothing is added to the address, the browser will automatically guess the “http://www” and “.com” portions. Also, what about all the .net, .org, and etc. domains?

    Nice thought, though. Maybe search for a different use for the Caps Lock key, since that is all but obsolete.

    Comment by Josh J. — July 24, 2009 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  9. I think a more useful convention change would be to put a ‘tab’ button on the right in addition to the one on the left. You could put it and another one with the arrows. There is a space to either side of the up arrow on most keyboards.

    Comment by Becky — August 14, 2009 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

  10. As a number of people have commented, an extra key is not required. It’s better experience and simpler to make the default state the one that is most common, so just entering the name part of a URL defaults to the .com TLD. What would be even better though, is if users could set their own default ending. which would help with users who visit their national sites more often.

    Comment by Jonk — September 3, 2009 @ 7:46 am | Reply

  11. Kill the .com. Why can’t we have free from domain names? It’s just a database look. Why do I have to have a .anything at the end? The TLDs are just a way for ICANN to make money. However, back to keyboards…

    The Apple and the Amiga keyboards had “extra” keys back in the 80s. Microsoft finally picked up the idea. Do you use the Windows key? Try [Windows]-[e], [Windows]-[f], [Windows]-[r], [Windows]-[d], [Windows]-[l](L on i), or [Windows]-[Pause]. I use these all the time. Others include [Windows]-[Tab], just the [Windows] key, [Windows]-[F1], [Windows]-[M] (that is Windows-Shift-m) and [Windows]-[m].

    The “context” key (aka the right click key) is another “new” key that few people use.

    If Stars Wars was remade today, I am sure we would hear Obi-Wan say “Use the Windows Key, Luke.”

    Comment by Eric Case — September 24, 2009 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

  12. Absolutely daft idea. Anyone who uses the internet for extended times must use additions such as .net, .org, etc. PLUS country extensions such as .au, .uk, etc.

    As for dumping the whole .com concept and having ‘free from’ domains (not quite sure what that means), the horse has now bolted. It would locked out legitimate businesses, organizations and individuals who cam in late or structure their domains differently depending on what country they operate from or have operations in.
    Yes, it’s frustrating but having a .com keyboard certainly will not work.

    New generation browsers are getting smarter at guessing what the domain will be, based on usage habits, etc and therefore autocomplete before you get to the domain extension in many cases.

    For me on keyboards, GET RID OF THE CAPS LOCK KEY!!!! (oops – could’ve used it there LOL). Finally,for those of us using different operating systems, who needs a key with a stupid Windows logo on it?

    Comment by David — October 18, 2009 @ 9:18 pm | Reply


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