Mechanical Keyboard design feedback roundup

If you’re into the mechanical keyboard scene, then you’re most likely familiar with the Reddit/mechkb, Geekhack and Deskthority mechanical keyboard forums. A hub of not only information but also creation and inspiration. We want to thank everybody for sharing their opinion, knowledge and experiences on these forums. Not only does it help fellow users, but also helps us avoid pitfalls and improve on what we’ve built. But what’s the point if it’s a one-way relationship, we also want to share what we’re doing.

That’s why we had reached out to the community through a Reddit and Geekhack post last week. We asked for feedback on our initial Wooting keyboard design. Whether it would be negative or positive, we welcomed them all and braced ourselves for trolls. But we were pleasantly surprised how a majority took the time to give their honest opinion.

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All the feedback, input, criticism, advice, inspiration, ideas and etc. gave us not only valuable information but, more importantly, a moral boost.

To process everything, we had to decide if the feedback would have a dramatic impact on our vision or ideas. Everybody has their own expectations of a keyboard, that might not always fit with what we’re trying to achieve. So we also had to be critical with everything we received. In the end, we want to communicate with consistency, honesty, and clarity.

Now, what’s the point of receiving feedback, if you don’t do anything with it. That’s why we summarized all the highlights and our response/action in bulletin style.

TL; TR Feedback on Wooting Keyboard

Design and Shape

Refers to the general design and shape of the keyboard.

Feedback highlight:

  1. A majority compared it to the Corsair line keyboards, particularly the K65. Besides design, Wooting plus points were:
    1. Standard front key row.
    2. Detachable USB (even though K65 has it, lol 🙂 ).
    3. No dedicated media bar/keys.
  2. The name of the keyboard could be different, the logo, on the other hand, was well received.
  3. The front incline of the keyboard could be a bit shorter and lower.
  4. Concern when using a wrist pad.
    1. Might cause a less appealing gap between keyboard and wrist pad.
    2. Influence ergonomic factors with wrist pad, because of the distance created by the front bezel.
  5. Love/hate relationship for the floating keycap.
  6. We shouldn’t suggest that it is easier to clean the keyboard with floating keycap.

Action:

  1. No action required. We’re glad about the generally positive response, and see the comparison with our given differences as a compliment.
  2. Our company name is actually Wooting, and we’ve not assigned any particular name to the Keyboard yet. We believe it’s a matter of getting used to.
  3. We like the front incline of the keyboard and will make sure to keep it, but we believe it can be improved as suggested
  4. We are going to shorten the front bezel without a noticeable change. Also, will change the total height of the bottom case of the keyboard to compensate. The aim is on full compatibility with aftermarket wrist pads
  5. We’re sticking with floating keycap, as it depicts our design and has an added bonus for a t.b.a feature
  6. We’re going to hold back a bit with promoting the “cleaning” aspect of it, and rephrase it more appropriate. It doesn’t make it easier to clean, but it does help avoid things from disappearing into the keyboard.

Keycaps, legends, and layout

This refers to the keycaps, legend and current (ANSI) layout on the keyboard.

Feedback highlight:

  1. Suggestion to change the font/legend to Gotham rounded or Novatouch style. Otherwise, keep the legends as plain as possible.
  2. Offer to ship the keyboard without keycaps, because most hardcore users would have their own keycaps anyway. This would, in turn, save a bit on the price/cost.
  3. An option for ISO layout with Balkan, Nordic or other special EU layout.

Action:

  1. We’re going to improve the font/legend on the keycaps to make it feel more organized, and maybe utilize more icons. We’re going to keep it as plain/simple as possible, as we don’t want it to become a dominant aspect.
  2. We’ve gone over our options for shipping the keyboard without keycaps. In theory, we’re able to separate the keyboard and keycaps, but it strongly depends on the total demand and we’re still evaluating if the keycaps will really make that much of a difference in price.
  3. We wish to offer the ISO layout (necessary for any Balkan, nordic or other EU type keyboard), and are able to produce them without too many consequences, but once again, it’s only a viable option if there is enough demand.

Type of USB and cable routing

Refers to the type of USB we’re using and the cable routing underneath the keyboard.

Feedback highlight:

  1. There was much controversy about the type of USB. Many manufacturers choose to use Mini-USB or no detachable cable. It was suggested to use Micro-USB as it is more common, but as the same time, there were suggestions that these break too fast.
  2. Add more cable routing options underneath the keyboard.

Action:

  1. We’ve done some more research, and we’re still not sure why so many manufacturers stick with mini-USB. In either case, we are switching to micro-USB. This will also better fit our suggested portability of the keyboard.
    1. Our research concluded (and confirmed a statement made in the feedback) that micro-USB has a higher insertion life cycle and low risk of breaking the keyboard connector. There is also no concern for stability and rigidity of the connection.
    2. Also, since 2008 micro-USB has become the standard instead of mini-USB.
  2. We’re going to stick with a quality cable routing solution that comes out from the bottom middle of the case. We believe that adding too many cable routing options doesn’t promote any significant benefits, and if manufactured improperly or using a different size cable can become an annoying feature to use.

Function keys, Firmware, and backlight

This refers to our function layer on the keyboard and firmware installed on the keyboard hardware.

Feedback highlight:

  1. A single person missed the scroll lock key, that we swapped for a “mode” key.
  2. It was suggested that we add an option for full customizability of the keyboard mapping to the users.
  3. Function keys should be on the first layer of the keyboard.
  4. Add a Numpad to the function layer under the 789.
  5. People were asking if we would have (RGB) backlit keys. One person was even so bold to mention that if we don’t use RGB backlit keys, we would lose 90% of the market.

Action:

  1. We’re sorry, but see action point 2.
  2. Since we’re building the firmware from ground up, and we believe in customizability, this is actually on our development roadmap.
  3. If you take a look at our previous blog, we have a function toggle key. This will basically allow you to use the functions on the first layer.
  4. We’re still discussing if we’re going to add the Numpad function out of the box, as we don’t like to make the keyboard too overloaded with functions. We’re definitely adding it as an option further down the road (see point 2), but we don’t believe it will be essential at first release.
  5. Actually, our keyboard already has white LED backlit keys, it just doesn’t show it clearly yet. We’re not planning on making an RGB version, we believe this will unnecessarily inflate the price and is also not our unique selling point.

Join the discussion; leave your feedback

That’s the feedback round-up in a nutshell. As we’ll be doing this more often, we hope to get better in sharing, If you have anything to add, then you’re more than welcome to share your opinion. Also, be sure to check out our previous blog about the function keys.

Next week we’ll be launching our new landing page for the Wooting next generation mechanical keyboard.

Stay tuned…

Share your opinion

PS: Scroll down and subscribe to receive the latest news. It’s also a great way to support our keyboard.

Calder Limmen Written by:

Founder of Wooting. Entrepreneur, gamer and any(thing)thusiast living in Taiwan.

4 Comments

  1. Öcü
    March 16, 2016
    Reply

    Dont make it glossy.( glossy = Fingerprint ). Let it have matte aluminum finish like das keyboard 4c. Put something better for height adjustment instead of tiny feet that can broke easly. Make keyboard base as thin as possible so that gamers could play with it without wrist pad. Add onboard memory, dont be like razer who forces customers use synapshit all the time. Here comes the most important part! Do you see [windows] & [Fn] keys. Every so called “gaming peripheral” company puts them right below your hand. These are most useless keys has no job in gaming yet they stays where your hand is mostly. Look at pro gamers they remove these keys. This should be a joke. So my advice is change them into something bindable in game software ( like [+] and [-] )so people can use thumb finger for more things then spamming space bar. Change them for both sides of keyboard. Put them somewhere else. Oh btw make a version of cherry mx browns with o rings. They are delightful for RTS and MMO gaming. Thanks for reading. I will add things if i remember something else.

    • March 17, 2016
      Reply

      Cool! Really like your input.

      – I can confirm that we’re avoiding anything glossy. Thankfully the aluminum top plate isn’t a fingerprint magnet.

      – This post is considerable old since for example we’ve further explored RGB and found out that the implementation isn’t even that crazy, so, we’ve added RGB. But design wise, we’ve lowered the entire profile already and from our side we don’t feel a wrist pad is necessary at all but as you know, everybody has their preference.

      – We’re working towards full customizable keyboard with onboard memory, we want PC software to help you configure thing on the keyboard but make it necessary for using the keyboard. By default, depending on the profile you activate, we’re already planning to make the left windows key into a second mappable function type of key for macro activation. We feel you though, a lot of the keyboard “gaming” periphals” out there, are a joke.

      – Switches, in time, will get more options. We’re not sure how much the o-rings will influence the analog input though (the thickness decreases travel distance), yet to be tested.

      Feedback whereever is always welcome! Thanks for the input, appreciate it.

  2. Xavier
    March 23, 2016
    Reply

    First, I just want to thank you for NOT adding RBG. I want to buy it even more now.

    Second I have two recommendations. Offer for blank caps. PBT or ABS, doesn’t matter. If you’re buying in bulk, they can get pretty cheap.

    The other suggestion is switching the plate form aluminum to steel. While more expensive, it adds a little more heft, and feels a little different, upon bottoming out. It has a more sturdy feel to it. It’s subtle, but there.

    • March 24, 2016
      Reply

      Ahhhh! Kind of have to disappoint and relieve you of something. We were not fixated on making it RGB because it’s not our USP, white leds are great and other gaming companies focus their marketing entirely on it (sigh) but after a while we’ve found that the cost for RGB leds isn’t expensive at all and the implementation for individual RGB control might not be that bad either. We’ll be testing this with the next prototype.

      In either case, we felt that if the implementation wasn’t expensive, we might as well add it because the more modular/customizable the keyboard, the better! So if you don’t like backlit keys, turn it off, if you like a single color, change them all to the single color 🙂

      Can you elaborate why you’d be very pro- blank keycaps? Will you still make custom engravings or use it blank?

      I believe I’ve talked with you on Twitter concerning the top plate 🙂

      Thanks again !

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