My Experiences with the Dvorak Layout
I found a freeware typing tutor and dedicated a couple of hours per day to switching over. This was the first real effort I'd put into improving my typing speed and accuracy since high school, and it worked. At the end of the month, I was typing 85 words per minute without errors.
Typing using the Dvorak layout is like alternate strumming - sequences in English text move from hand to hand and form patterns or waves that one can feel and see.
Is it really better? Let's try an experiment. Let's look at this well-known text:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
This sentence from the United States Declaration of Independence contains 178 characters (excluding spaces) which can be typed. Let's compare using a Dvorak layout and a QWERTY layout. We'll look at frequency of handedness, frequency of row used, and which characters required a displacement of the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth fingers from the home row.
56% of all keystrokes were typed by the right hand using the Dvorak layout. 71% of the keystrokes were in the home row, 23% were in the top row, and 6% were in the bottom row. 17% of keystrokes required displacement from the home row.
Using the QWERTY layout, 38% of the characters were typed by the right hand. 32% of keystrokes were in the home row, 52% were in the top row, and 14% were in the bottom row. 27% of the characters required displacement from the home row.