What can a typewriter teach us about great user experience?
June 23, 2016
Ask around to your staff members whether they’ve ever used a typewriter before. If you have any millennials or even generation X or Y-ers in your office, chances are they will say no. But if they had to use one, do you think they could figure it out with very little training? Or would someone who hadn’t used one in awhile quickly remember what to do? You might be surprised when you realize that the answer is yes. That’s not something that can be said for some of the more technologically advanced options of today.
This is just one of a few UX fundamentals can we glean from the typewriter – a tool that many would consider a dinosaur in the age of technology today. Throughout, you’ll find many of the cornerstones to great user experience.
There’s a reason why certain items that were once old become new again. It’s that feel that you get. The clicking of the typebars. The ring of the bell with every carriage return. The smell of oil and fresh ink. It’s that great user experience that keeps you coming back.
The QWERTY keyboard that we all know and love originated on a Sholes and Glidden typewriter back in the early 1870s. Alternatively layouts were attempted over the years. But because of its effectiveness, QWERTY remains as the deeply entrenched standard.
There’s a reason the typewriter was considered indispensable for so long. It provided a simple and highly-usable alternative to writing by hand for both personal and professional reasons. Much like smartphones have done for modern times, the typewriter revolutionized the way people were able to communicate.
Obviously there are many reasons why the typewriter is no longer the powerhouse it once was. It leaves absolutely no room for error. You can’t go back and edit or fix a misspelled word. So in today’s high demand, fast paced world, it’s a productivity fail. But for over 100 years, it was the #SimplyBetter way to communicate. Without it, we wouldn’t have had word processors, which led to computers and now smartphones. And for the same reason why people will never give up books for an e-reader, many still hold their typewriters dear because of the great feeling you while using it.
THAT is the epitome of great user experience.