To learn a new keyboard layout, some people prefer first getting an ergonomic keyboard1. This is a bad idea to my opinion, and this for many reasons.
First, ergonomic keyboards are quite expensive, more than ~regular ones. Price usually start at 250 €, and can easily go higher. Having one can hugely increase ergonomy, but it’s less relevant.
For some people, it can be a cognitive overload (physical and logical layout change), resulting in a quicker withdrawal or greater difficulties to learn. Unless to have a close to nil typing ability, it’s preferable to stay on an usual keyboard, where you know where physically keys are, the motricity stays the same. Especially these ergonomic keyboards might drastically change key layout (row or column removal, key moved, split), makes it harder to get used to.
Keyboard programmation is a double edge sword in my opinion. This functionality that allows you going deeper in ergonomy seeking, but requires a good layout understanding beforehand. A newbie would quickly be overwhelmed by all the available fine tuning to get the perfect keyboard layout. Understanding layout creators’ intention is preferable, to also understand its natural strength and weaknesses.
To share my own experience, I learned and used BÉPO for three years with a regular 105 keys ISO keyboard, before trying and buying an Ergodox-EZ that satisfies me. This keyboard can be programmed and has less keys than an average keyboard. I had to find the least used keys to move them on a non-direct access. After experimenting during an handful months, I finally settled on a layout that satisfies me for all situtations. I wouldn’t have been as effective and stable if I had not this familiarity with BÉPO layout.
I know my advices are biaised because it’s my experience, but I believe it’s the good way of doing 🙂
Afterall, using a radically different keyboard allows a different muscular memory and segregating it by a different physical layout, and not forgetting the old layout while the new is being learned, like what happened to me 😗 (I don’t know how to type AZERTY any more)
by “ergonomic keyboard” I mean those who are physically different from regular ones, such as Ergodox-EZ like. They are usually ortho-linear. I absolutely not consider Microsoft Ergonomic as one. ↩︎