Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Industrial Engineering (Engineering)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Shihab Asfour

Second Committee Member

Murat Erkoc

Third Committee Member

Eunji Lim

Fourth Committee Member

James R. Lewis

Fifth Committee Member

Arzu Onar


Despite the increase in popularity of handheld devices, text entry on such devices is becoming more difficult due to reduced form factors that limit display size, input modes, and interaction techniques. In an effort to circumvent these issues, research has found that five-key methods are effective for text entry on devices such as in-car navigation systems, television and gaming controllers, wrist watches, and other small devices. Five-key text entry methods use four directional keys to move a selector over an on-screen keyboard and an Enter key for selection. Although other researchers have described five-key character layouts using alphabetical order and predictive layouts based on digraph frequencies, there is considerable latitude in designing the rest of a comprehensive on-screen keyboard. Furthermore, it might be possible to capitalize on the relative strengths of the alphabetic and predictive layouts by combining them in a hybrid layout. Thus, this research examines the design of alternative keyboard layouts for five-key text entry techniques. Three keyboard layouts (Alphabetical, Predictive, and Hybrid) were selected to represent standard and less familiar arrangements. The analysis centered on a series of controlled experiments conducted on a research platform designed by the author. In this work, when the immediate usability of three alternative keyboard layouts for supporting five-key text entry was investigated, results indicated no statistically significant differences in performance across the tested keyboards. Furthermore, experimental results show that following immediate usability, but still at the onset of learning, there was no overall difference in performance among the three keyboard layouts across four text types. However, the Alphabetical keyboard surpassed both the Predictive and Hybrid keyboards in text entry speed in typing Web addresses. The nonstandard keyboards performed superior to the Alphabetical keyboards in typing Words/Spaces and Sentences, but performed no better in typing Address strings than the Alphabetical. Use of mixed effects modeling suggested that the longitudinal data was best fitted by a quadratic model. Text entry performance on all three layouts improved as a function of practice, demonstrating that participants could learn the unfamiliar layouts to complete text entry tasks. Overall, there was no indication that use of nonstandard layouts impedes performance. In fact, trend in time data suggests that the learning rates were greater for the nonstandard keyboards over the standard layout. Overall, participants preferred the Hybrid layout. In summary, this dissertation focused on creating and validating novel and effective five-key text entry techniques for constrained devices.


Predictive Techniques; Few-key Text Entry; Selection-based Methods; Handheld Devices; Text Entry