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The graphical user interface (GUI "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ) is a form of
user interface In the industrial design Industrial design is a process of design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specificati ...
that allows
users User may refer to: Ancient Egyptian roles * User (ancient Egyptian official)User was an ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River ...
to interact with electronic devices through graphical
icons An icon (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appr ...
and audio indicator such as primary notation, instead of
text-based user interface In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and s ...
s, typed command labels or text navigation. GUIs were introduced in reaction to the perceived steep
learning curve A learning curve is a graphical representation of the relationship between how proficient someone is at a task and the amount of experience Experience refers to conscious , an English Paracelsian Paracelsianism (also Paracelsism; German: ' ...

learning curve
of
command-line interface A command-line interface (CLI) processes command COMMAND.COM is the default command-line interpreter A command-line interface (CLI) processes commands to a computer program in the form of lines of text. The program which handles the i ...
s (CLIs), which require commands to be typed on a
computer keyboard A computer keyboard is a peripheral A peripheral or peripheral device is an auxiliary device used to put information into and get information out of the computer. The term peripheral device refers to all hardware components that are attached to ...

computer keyboard
. The actions in a GUI are usually performed through
direct manipulation In computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of Algori ...
of the graphical elements. Beyond computers, GUIs are used in many handheld
mobile device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets ...
s such as
MP3 MP3 (formally MPEG-1 Audio Layer III or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III) is a coding format for digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, Digital signal (signal processing), digital form. In digital a ...

MP3
players, portable media players, gaming devices,
smartphone A smartphone is a portable device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can per ...

smartphone
s and smaller household, office and industrial controls. The term ''GUI'' tends not to be applied to other lower-
display resolution The display resolution or display modes of a digital television Digital television (DTV) is the transmission of television audiovisual Audiovisual (AV) is electronic media 200px, Graphical representations of electrical audio data. ...
types of interfaces
types of interfaces
, such as
video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generate visual f ...
s (where ''head-up display'' (
HUD Hud or HUD may refer to: Entertainment * Hud (1963 film), ''Hud'' (1963 film), a 1963 film starring Paul Newman * Hud (1986 film), ''Hud'' (1986 film), a 1986 Norwegian film * HUD (TV program), ''HUD'' (TV program), or ''Heads Up Daily'', a Canadia ...
) is preferred), or not including flat screens, like
volumetric display A volumetric display device is a graphic display device s, LED A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor A semiconductor material has an Electrical resistivity and conductivity, electrical conductivity value falling between th ...
s because the term is restricted to the scope of two-dimensional display screens able to describe generic information, in the tradition of the
computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of computation, automation, a ...
research at the
Xerox Palo Alto Research Center Xerox Holdings Corporation (; also known simply as Xerox) is an American corporation that sells print and electronic document, digital document products and services in more than 160 countries. Xerox is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut (hav ...
.


User interface and interaction design

Designing the visual composition and temporal behavior of a GUI is an important part of
software application Application software (app for short) is computing software designed to carry out a specific task other than one relating to the operation of the computer itself, typically to be used by end-users. Examples of an application Application may refer ...
programming in the area of
human–computer interaction Human–computer interaction (HCI) is research in the design and the use of Computing, computer technology, which focuses on the Interface (computing), interfaces between people (user (computing), users) and computers. HCI researchers observe th ...
. Its goal is to enhance the efficiency and ease of use for the underlying logical design of a stored program, a design discipline named ''
usability Usability can be described as the capacity of a system to provide a condition for its users to perform the tasks safely, effectively, and efficiently while enjoying the experience. In software engineering, usability is the degree to which a sof ...

usability
''. Methods of user-centered design are used to ensure that the visual language introduced in the design is well-tailored to the tasks. The visible graphical interface features of an application are sometimes referred to as ''chrome'' or ''GUI'' (pronounced ''gooey''). Typically, users interact with information by manipulating visual
widgets Widget is a placeholder name for an Widget (economics), unnamed, unspecified, or hypothetical manufactured good or product. The word was coined by in his play ' (1924). This meaning has been extended in various ways: Technology Computing * Soft ...
that allow for interactions appropriate to the kind of data they hold. The widgets of a well-designed interface are selected to support the actions necessary to achieve the goals of users. A
model–view–controller Model–view–controller (MVC) is a software design pattern In software engineering Software engineering is the systematic application of engineering Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, struc ...
allows flexible structures in which the interface is independent of and indirectly linked to application functions, so the GUI can be customized easily. This allows users to select or design a different ''
skin Skin is the layer of usually soft, flexible outer tissue covering the body of a vertebrate animal, with three main functions: protection, regulation, and sensation. Other cuticle, animal coverings, such as the arthropod exoskeleton, have differ ...
'' at will, and eases the designer's work to change the interface as user needs evolve. Good user interface design relates to users more, and to system architecture less. Large widgets, such as
windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several proprietary {{Short pages monitor