I use keyboard shortcuts constantly, for everything. I believe it is fair to say that I am obsessed with anything that can save me a few seconds working. I learned this habit from of all things, video games. Even if you don’t play video games you need only to look at a gamers hands while they are playing and you can see the unbelievable speed at which actions can take place. Literally hundreds of button presses per minute are possible.
At my old company, SolidWorks, I had prodded the UI team to out the old shortcut system and bring in a new version for two reasons. First, the old shortcut system was classic clunkiness. I won’t get into it, but suffice it to say it was one of the worst implementations I could imagine. Second, the existing shortcuts were not intuitive and were really a mishmash of commands. The SolidWorks application has literally hundreds of commands and is one of the most complex desktop applications you could imagine. Even the most experienced users can’t know everything that is possible.
So it was with great pleasure when a usability project opened to maximize the use of shortcuts. The end result is the best shortcut management system I have seen devised. You can save yourself a lot of time by learning from their system. I won’t take all the credit for this implementation – PD did an excellent job of setting early specifications and I remember that the developer did a fantastic job completing this project on time and never pushed back on making UI changes. It was truly one of the best projects I got to work on. (more…)