Default Keyboard Focus

flow|state: Show mercy to keyboard users (yourself included) by setting the default keyboard focus In this post on flow|state the author explains the importance of setting the default keyboard focus in a web application – i.e. where text will appear if the user starts typing without clicking on a control or otherwise changing the focus. Some sites do set the focus appropriately (e.g. google search) but others seem to overlook this simple but important point (e.g. google reader, microsoft.com).

I’ve facilitated several agile projects where the customer or product owner has come up with a user story something like:

As a web site visitor
I want to start typing without having to change focus
so that I can get the results that I need as quickly as possible

This is usually simple to implement (unless you can’t use JavaScript) and provides an immediate reduction in aggravation for users. For some applications this can actually make a difference to the business case. For example, if call handling time for a large scale call centre application can be reduced by just a second, it can result in significant cost reductions over a year.

I encourage all product owners to consider whether there is room for such a feature in their product backlogs!

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