While most people like some sense of order to their custom rubber keypads, you may wonder if there should be a rhyme or reason to how the keypad is laid out. If you’re designing a new product or revamping an old one, consider the order and placement of the keys.

Purpose
One of the most important parts of devising the buttons on a custom keypad is to choose what buttons to include and how they should be labeled. Rubber keypads should help your users achieve their purpose quickly and efficiently. People planning to use words, letters and numbers to operate a device will probably be most comfortable with an alphanumeric keypad. For security codes, a numeric keypad is probably sufficient. When there are extra steps involved, such as confirming an entry code or answering yes or no questions, there should be additional options on the keypad. If the user needs to choose a direction or move a cursor, you may want to create rubber molded keypads with arrows. Some keypad configurations are designed specifically with the purpose of functions in mind and abandon letters, numbers and directions completely.

Customizing Rubber Keypads
Once you’ve decided what information to put on your custom rubber keypads, you’ll need to arrange them in a specific order. Separating numbers and letters into different areas is one option. Another choice is to arrange the buttons in the QWERTY format for typing versus the old school telephone keypad order, where multiple letters are represented on one button.

Order
Numbers can be arranged differently too. Does it really matter what order you use? It depends on the length of the string. According to a study on the Usability Evaluation of Randomized Keypad published in the Journal of Usability Studies in 2010, a conventional numeric keypad is generally more efficient than a randomized one, but not always. Users in the test group were given a series of four-digit and eight-digit PIN numbers to type into a keypad. The error rate on the shorter series was notably lower than the longer PIN when the numeric key order was randomized.

One conclusion that the usability study reached is that if you want to scramble the order of a numeric keypad for any reason, as a security protocol for example, it won’t affect the accuracy of the entries if the PIN codes are kept to a lower sequence number, like four.  An interesting note is that 34 of the 50 participants said that they liked the idea of having the numeric order on the keypad randomized. It gave them a stronger sense of security.

This information could be especially helpful if you’re designing a keypad product for a grocery checkout, a banking transaction or a security checkpoint entry.

At SiTECH, we can manufacture rubber molded keypads for a variety of uses. We can provide different printed keypads with colors, layouts and languages to suit your designs. All of our products are made on-site at our Virginia manufacturing facility. Contact our office for more information on how we can help you create custom designs for your new or revamped product.