User Interface Development
User interface design (UI) or user interface engineering is the design of user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with the focus on maximizing usability and the user experience. The goal of user interface design is to make the user's interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals (user-centered design).
Good user interface design facilitates finishing the task at hand without drawing unnecessary attention to itself. Graphic design and typography are utilized to support its usability, influencing how the user performs certain interactions and improving the aesthetic appeal of the design; design aesthetics may enhance or detract from the ability of users to use the functions of the interface. The design process must balance technical functionality and visual elements (e.g., mental model) to create a system that is not only operational but also usable and adaptable to changing user needs.
Interface design is involved in a wide range of projects from computer systems, to cars, to commercial planes; all of these projects involve much of the same basic human interactions yet also require some unique skills and knowledge. As a result, designers tend to specialize in certain types of projects and have skills centered on their expertise, whether it is a software design, user research, web design, or industrial design.
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F.A.Q. about User Interface Development
What is a Graphical User Interface?
The graphical user interface, developed in the late 1970s by the Xerox Palo Alto research laboratory and deployed commercially in Apple’s Macintosh and Microsoft’s Windows operating systems, was designed as a response to the problem of inefficient usability in early, text-based command-line interfaces for the average user.
Graphical user interfaces would become the standard of user-centered design in software application programming, providing users the capability to intuitively operate computers and other electronic devices through the direct manipulation of graphical icons such as buttons, scroll bars, windows, tabs, menus, cursors, and the mouse pointing device. Many modern graphical user interfaces feature touchscreen and voice-command interaction capabilities.
How Does a Graphical User Interface Work?
Graphical user interface design principles conform to the model–view–controller software pattern, which separates internal representations of information from the manner in which information is presented to the user, resulting in a platform where users are shown which functions are possible rather than requiring the input of command codes. Users interact with information by manipulating visual widgets, which are designed to respond in accordance with the type of data they hold and support the actions necessary to complete the user’s task.
The appearance, or “skin,” of an operating system or application software may be redesigned at will due to the nature of graphical user interfaces being independent from application functions. Applications typically implement their own unique graphical user interface display elements in addition to graphical user interface elements already present on the existing operating system. A typical graphical user interface also includes standard formats for representing graphics and text, making it possible to share data between applications running under common graphical user interface design software.
Graphical user interface testing refers to the systematic process of generating test cases in order to evaluate the functionality of the system and its design elements. Graphical user interface testing tools, which are either manual or automated and typically implemented by third-party operators, are available under a variety of licenses and are supported by a variety of platforms. Popular examples include: Tricentis Tosca, Squish GUI Tester, Unified Functional Testing (UFT), Maveryx, Appium, and eggPlant Functional.
Graphical User Interface Examples
Sketchpad, believed to be the first graphical computer-aided design program, was developed in 1962 by Ivan Sutherland while he was at MIT, and consisted of a light pen that enabled users to create and manipulate objects in engineering drawings in real-time with coordinated graphics.
Modern operating systems and graphical user interfaces are incorporated into nearly every interactive application, such as ATMs, self-service checkouts, airline self-ticketing and check-in, video games, smartphones, and desktops. Some popular, modern graphical user interface examples include Microsoft Windows, macOS, Ubuntu Unity, and GNOME Shell for desktop environments, and Android, Apple's iOS, BlackBerry OS, Windows 10 Mobile, Palm OS-WebOS, and Firefox OS for smartphones.
Advantages of Graphical User Interfaces
The advantage of a graphical user interface is a stark improvement in useability for the average person. The features of a graphical user interface leverage familiar metaphors, such as drag-and-drop for transferring files, and use familiar icons, such as a trash bin for deleted files, creating an environment in which computer operations are intuitive and easily mastered without any prior practice or knowledge of computing machinery or languages. Graphical user interface applications are self descriptive, feedback is typically immediate, and visual cues encourage and steer discoverability.