Constructing Chinese characters: Keypad design for mobile phones

Min Lin, Andrew Sears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Increased use of mobile phones and associated services in China highlights the need for effective Chinese input methods for mobile devices. Mapping thousands of characters to a standard telephone keypad is a significant challenge. Structure-based methods provide an appealing known-character/known- code solution, but assigning multiple strokes to each key forces users to learn new, often unfamiliar, mappings. Using an established stroke input method, our study revealed important effects of keypad legend on performance. Novice user performance was evaluated with several alternative keypad designs. The results confirmed that both abstract symbols and concrete examples helped improve the usability of the keypad in Chinese text-entry tasks. Further, combining abstract symbols and concrete examples resulted in performance nearly tripling as compared to the original design. The stroke-to-key mapping accuracy also increased significantly. Handwriting analysis confirmed that the reduced errors are directly associated with the keypad-based text-entry technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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