Since I’ve started using my mobile phone more often for web browsing I have become painfully aware of how many damn key presses it takes to enter some of my favorite URLs. It’s great that so many sites are offering stripped-down versions for quick mobile browsing, of course with the added expense of entering the URL. This sort of thinking led me to ask, how many taps does it take to get to a website?
Multi-tap is the method by which many mobile users interact with their phone. Each letter is entered by tapping a given key a number of times corresponding to the letter on that key. For instance, the letter ‘S’ would be entered by pressing the 7 key four times. I have developed a system to calculate the tappage for an arbitrary string. You can find it here:
In addition to the standard tap semantics, I add an extra tap for each time a key is repeated. This is because a repeated key requires that you either press a forward button (painful), or wait for the letter to register (painfully long). Also, since the tap dynamics for symbols vary from phone to phone, I set ‘.’ to one tap and everything else to 4 taps. So of course everyone is asking at this point: who has the shortest URLs?
- First things first: Yahoo! beats Google 22 taps to 23.
- Which TLD to use? .net wins with 6 taps, followed by .org (8 taps) and .com (9 taps). .mobi weighs in, brilliantly, at 11 taps.
- Dodgeball? 29 taps. Twitter? 23 taps. Mixd? 16 taps.
- Blogger, Typepad or WordPress? Typepad by 6 taps.
- Flickr beats Del.icio.us by only one tap.
- Upcoming.org beats them both with 25 taps.
- RSS or HTML? HTML by 7 taps.
After playing with this (highly addictive) tool for a few hours, I find the results to be really non-intuitive; some short things are long, some long things are short. I guess this is yet another dimension to consider when you are looking for a domain name.