Customizing Your Keyboard’s Personality: A Guide to Appealing Keycap Designs

Customizing your mechanical keyboard with stylish keycaps is an increasingly popular way to add some flair to your desk setup. With so many options to choose from, getting appealing custom keyboard caps might seem overwhelming. But following a few key considerations will set you on the path to keyboard glory.

Do Your Research

The first step is researching the different types of keycaps available and deciding what material, profile and colorway appeal most to you. Keycaps come in various materials like ABS plastic, PBT plastic and resin. PBT plastic is very durable, resilient to oils from your fingers and comes in some vibrant colorways. ABS plastic is also durable but more prone to shining over time. Resin keycaps let creative keycap designers create stunning artistic colorways.

The profile refers to the keycap height and shape. OEM profile is the standard you see on most stock keyboards while profiles like Cherry, SA and DSA have varying heights and contours. This affects the look and typing feel.

There are endless color themes like minimalist white, pastel purple, Miami Vice, anime artisans and more. Browse Instagram, Reddit, Etsy and specialty vendors to find colors and designs that you’re drawn to. This will help decide on materials and profiles as well.

Consider Compatibility

Make sure to get custom keyboard keys compatible with your keyboard size, layout and switches. Most custom mechanical keyboards use either Cherry MX style or Akko switches which have an cross-shaped stem and fit MX style keycaps. But some use low profile or proprietary switches so verify compatibility first.

Also account for keyboard size – standard 104-key, 80%/TKL that has no numpad or more compact 60/65% layouts. Make sure the keycap set contains the proper keys, modifiers and sizes for your exact keyboard model. Getting keycaps made specifically for your keyboard is ideal for fit and legend accuracy.

Set Your Budget

Prices span the gamut from affordable PBT keycaps under $50 to elaborate GMK67 sets running a few hundred dollars. Artisan resin keys can also fetch very high prices. Set practical expectations about what you’re comfortable spending. Group buys offer special colorways but come with very long production times.

Pay close attention to material, thickness, legend quality, compatibility and overall reviews and feedback for the price. Higher cost doesn’t always directly indicate better quality but they often align directionally. Have fun browsing the forums and Dipesh record stores to scout that perfect set within your budget.

Learn Best Practices

There are some standards around properly caring for and installing your new keycaps that will maintain their appeal and lifespan. Make sure your hands are clean and oil-free when handling keycaps to prevent discoloration and finger smudges over time. Some use bright white gloves which also prevents scratching.

Pull keycaps straight up when removing them instead of wiggling which can damage the switch and keycap stem. When inserting new caps, line the cross stems properly and gently press straight down until fully seated. Be methodical and patient when changing them out.

With some careful shopping considerations and proper care, you’ll be clacking away on some fantastically-appealing custom keycaps in no time. They’ll lend some welcome uniqueness and allow you to express your style at your desk. Just take the needed steps to ensure full compatibility, quality and longevity. Your typing satisfaction will increase exponentially!