Optimize for keyboard shortcuts

2018-02-10 2 min read

    I’m a big believer of offering keyboard-only experiences to your power users. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to build a loved productivity application without keyboard shortcuts. Productivity applications are all about productivity and keyboard shortcuts are what give your users power and speed. The mouse and menus are easier for newcomers but those that stick with the application inevitably need the speed that comes from shortcuts.

    The ultimate example of this is Excel. If you watch any power user of Excel they rarely, if ever, use the mouse. Instead, they’re able to do everything they need using the keyboard and significantly quicker than if they were force the mouse. There’s some functionality that’s not even possible to do with a mouse alone - for example array formulas.

    If you think about our favorite tools are almost all keyboard-shortcut based. These range from the modern IDE to the text editors of old. You see a screen with a cursor but the real power comes from the gamut of options we have from a few keyboard clicks. They offer a massive extension to our productivity and something that all productivity focused apps should embrace.

    It feels as if the move to the web has made applications worse. They’re generally less snappy and generally make me feel less productive. Keyboard shortcuts are a big part of this and I’m hoping that we realize that moving to the web shouldn’t stop us from doing all the behind the scenes work to make us more productive.