Using Graphics With an Overlay Keyboard

Using Graphics With an Overlay Keyboard : The human mind thinks in pictures. When designing an overlay for an overlay keyboard it is possible to use pictures, i.e. graphics, to label keys.

The standard computer keyboard is based on the typewriter. On a typewriter the letters of the alphabet, number and common punctuation characters are used to label the keys. A few extra keys such as shift for capital letters and tab were added.

The computer keyboard kept all the typewriter characters while adding the keys necessary to control the computer. The function keys, control and alt keys, arrow keys and page up & down are a few examples. These additional control keys are labeled with a short word or simple graphic.

It is possible to purchase keyboards with additional keys. My favorite keyboard has keys to start and control my browser and email programs. Other keys initiate My Computer and the Calculator and are labeled with short words.

When designing an overlay the designer can use graphics that appear in the program the overlay is designed for or create their own unique graphics.

A simple example is using the standard folder open icon instead of the word open. One overlay designed to work with Photoshop uses the lasso, eye dropper and eraser graphics along with others program icons to initiate different program options.

When the keys are also color coded and grouped according to general function finding a specific key becomes easy. The results are faster data entry, fewer errors and more work getting done in the same amount of time.