Why The QWERTY Layout Is More Inefficient Than You Thought

Everything About The QWERTY Layout And Its Contenders, DVORAK And COLEMAK.


A tenkeyless keyboard, made by :3ildcat

By: Jeremy Huang, Journalist


You’ve probably used the QWERTY keyboard layout for your entire life. But why? Why do we use this layout specifically? You might think it’s for convenience, so the most common keys are made to be easily accessible, but in reality, it’s quite the opposite. In this article, we will go through the most promising keyboard layouts that contend to the throne and why the QWERTY layout is flawed.

What is Qwerty?

First, we have to look at QWERTY and its history, the standard keyboard layout. Typewriters, the predecessor of the modern day keyboard, used QWERTY to make typing slower, since the mechanical arms jammed too often. It is a common misconception that QWERTY was designed for speed. So technically, the keyboard layout you’ve been using your whole life was originally designed to slow you down as much as possible while still being efficient enough to work on. This begs the question, are there layouts that would be faster?

Other Layouts

Out of all the keyboard layouts out there, DVORAK is well known amongst them. Patented by Dr. August Dvorak and William Dealey in 1936, this layout was originally designed for ergonomics, and to reduce the amount of typing errors.  Tests and demonstrations have been conducted to prove how much more effective DVORAK is compared to QWERTY. According to those studies, typing speeds measured in words per minute (WPM) can increase by around 60 percent! These statistics are quite amazing, although the credibility and reliability is questionable, but is this the only layout fighting for the crown?

The most recent known layout, and the most promising one yet, COLEMAK. This layout was designed for efficiency and reduced finger movement by placing the most common keys in the home row where your fingers rest. This ingenious idea was implemented by Shai Coleman in 2006. Although few, some studies have shown that COLEMAK is the most efficient and is quite easy to adapt to. Many users said that this layout improved their typing speed, while others barely noticed any improvements. There aren’t enough studies to prove that COLEMAK is all that much better than the standard QWERTY. In short, COLEMAK is generally more efficient compared to DVORAK and QWERTY, but not necessarily beneficial enough for the amount of effort it takes to change and adapt to it.


To quickly summarize this article, even though there are some studies showing that COLEMAK and DVORAK improve user’s typing significantly, it is still a controversial topic that isn’t backed up with enough evidence to confidently say one is better than the other. Since most keyboards currently use QWERTY, it is hard to adjust to the newer layouts. This applies especially for laptop users, since there is no way to change the keycaps of built in keyboards, rendering changing the software to different layouts useless. So besides the lack of evidence to prove that they’re more ergonomic and efficient than the standard QWERTY layout, the two contenders aren’t familiar enough to be used in name brands. So until these newer, improved layouts receive more attention and get proper studies conducted about their benefits, the world will have to stick with the classic QWERTY.

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