Good words for mobile

Not good words about mobile. But good words for mobile.

It’s unlikely that predictive text is really going to help you type a .com or .mobi address into your mobile browser. And you want the user’s experience to be as streamlined as possible.

Efficient URLs are the order of the day. And no “slashwalls”.

(I mean expecting users to append /mobile or /wap or whatever. That’s so 1999)

But length is not everything thanks to the way that most alphabetic text entry works on numeric keypads. A is 1. B is 11, C is 111, D is 2, etc. So not all letters are created equal, which can spell (!) trouble for some domains.

As an example, you might be particulary proud of and think it is a great snappy URL for mobile users. But wait: Z is four keypresses of the 9 key, and I is three of the 4 key.

So just those three letters demand 11 clicks from the mobilely-impatient user.

In contrast the first five letters of (whatever that might be about) cost 5 clicks. If you really want to burn 11 clicks, then why not go for

So this set me thinking… what are the good and bad words – on a mobile keyboard – and which have a good ‘keypress ratio’ of clicks to actual word length resulting. KPL: “Keypresses Per Letter”, and lower is better.

A quick bit of spreadsheet magic and I’ve got my list. My source of nearly 20,000 words was 12Dicts 3esl, and my algorithm was simply to add 1 for a, d, g, j etc, 2 for b, e, h, k etc… and then divide that total by the word length.

The winners and losers in summary:

3 letter words:

</u>  24 words (from add through to www) have a KPL of 1

  SOS is the worst 3 letter word with a KPL of 3.67

4 letter words:

</u>  damp, data, mama, papa and watt all have a KPL of 1

  fizz and loss have a KPL of 3.5

5 letter words:

  adapt and madam have a KPL of 1

  sissy has a KPL of 3.6

6 letter words:

</u>  damage, gadget, jagged, jammed, madman, and matted all have a KPL of 1.16

  crisis, fossil, frizzy, and sizzle have a KPL of 3.33

7 letter words:

</u>  adamant, attempt both have a KPL of 1.14

  bossily thru viscous have a KPL of 3.14

8 letter words:

  amputate, Muhammad, and teammate have a KPL of 1.25

  scissors has a KPL of 3.5

9 letter words:

</u>  appendage and attendant both have a KPL of 1.33

  fossilize has a KPL of 3.22

10 letter words:

  amalgamate has a KPL of 1.3

  crisscross has a KPL of 3.4

And the list goes on of course. I’ve zipped up an HTML version in{#p18} (~110k). For those interested, there’s also

My rather crude algorithm hacked up in Excel VBA is:

Function keypress(word As String)<br />     keypress = 0<br />     For i = 1 To Len(word)<br />         c = Mid(word, i, 1)<br />         Select Case LCase(c)<br />             Case "a", "d", "g", "j", "m", "p", "t", "w"<br />                 keypress = keypress + 1<br />             Case "b", "e", "h", "k", "n", "q", "u", "x"<br />                 keypress = keypress + 2<br />             Case "c", "f", "i", "l", "o", "r", "v", "y"<br />                 keypress = keypress + 3<br />             Case "s", "z"<br />                 keypress = keypress + 4<br />             Case Else<br />                 keypress = "n/a"<br />                 Exit Function<br />          End Select<br />     Next<br /> End Function

I can see plenty of room to enhance this, by the way… taking into account those words that have consecutive letters from the same key (which slows you down as you have to wait for the cursor to move on). And then there’s the fact that .com, .net and .mobi have varying KPLs, and that some devices even make . a real nightmare to insert. Any other ideas?

I’ll probably get round to building a dynamic web-based KPL analyser too… We’ll see.

Anyway, in the meantime, please dwell on the fact that you can type amalgamate with only 3 more keypresses than a QWERTY keyboard – and be thankful that you don’t own