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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Command Line Interface
3.
Graphical User Interface
4.
UI Design Process
5.
UI Design Principles
6.
FAQs
7.
Key Takeaways
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

User Interface Design

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Ashwin Goyal
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Introduction

The front-end application view with which the user interacts to use the software is the user interface. The user interface allows the user to manipulate and control software and hardware. Today, user interfaces can be found almost everywhere where digital technology exists, including computers, mobile phones, automobiles, music players, airplanes, and ships.

A user interface is a component of software that is designed to provide the user with information about the software. The user interface (UI) serves as the foundation for human-computer interaction.

UI can be graphical, text-based, or audio-video-based, depending on the underlying hardware and software combination. The user interface (UI) can be hardware, software, or a combination of the two.

There are two types of user interfaces:

  1. Command Line Interface
  2. Graphical User Interface

Command Line Interface

A command prompt is provided by the Command Line Interface, where the user types the command and feeds it to the system. The user must remember the syntax of the command and how to use it.

Until the advent of video display monitors, CLI was a fantastic tool for interacting with computers. Many technical users and programmers prefer the command-line interface (CLI). The command-line interface (CLI) is the most basic interface software can provide to its users.

The following elements can be found in a text-based command-line interface:

  • Command Prompt - This is a text-based notifier that primarily displays the context in which the user is working. The software system generates it.
  • Cursor - A cursor is a small horizontal line or a vertical bar of line-height that represents the position of a character while typing. The cursor is almost always in the blinking state. As the user writes or deletes something, it moves.
  • Output - The output of command execution is displayed on the screen inline. The command prompt appears on the following line when the output is generated.
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Graphical User Interface

A graphical user interface (GUI) is a simple interactive interface that allows you to interact with the system. A graphical user interface (GUI)  has a graphical representation of various operations to be performed and users can navigate using them. It can be a combination of hardware and software. The user interprets the software through a graphical user interface (GUI).

Every graphical component provides a means of interacting with the system. A GUI system includes the following components:

  • Window- An area where the application's contents are displayed. If a window represents a file structure, its contents can be displayed as icons or lists. An exploring window allows a user to navigate the file system more quickly.
  • Tabs - If an application allows multiple instances to run simultaneously, they appear on the screen as separate windows. The Tabbed Document Interface was created to allow you to open multiple documents in the same window. This interface is also helpful for viewing the application's preference panel. 
  • Menu - A menu is a collection of standard commands grouped and placed in a visible location (usually at the top) of the application window. The menu can be set to appear or hide based on mouse clicks.
  • Icon - An icon is a small image that represents a related application. The application window is opened when these icons are clicked or double-clicked. The icon is a small picture that displays applications and programs installed on a system.
  • Cursor - In a graphical user interface, cursors represent interacting devices such as a mouse, a touchpad, or a digital pen. In almost real-time, the on-screen cursor follows hardware instructions. In graphical user interface systems, cursors are also known as pointers. 

UI Design Process

A spiral model can represent the iterative process of analyzing and designing a user interface. The user interfaces analysis and design process is comprised of four framework activities.

1. User, task, environmental analysis, and modeling: Initially, the focus is on the profile of users who will interact with the system, such as understanding, skill, knowledge, user type, etc. Users are classified based on their profiles. Requirements are gathered from each category. The developer understands how to create the interface based on the requirements. Once all of the requirements have been gathered, a thorough analysis is carried out. The user's tasks to establish the system's goals are identified, described, and elaborated on in the analysis section.

2. Interface Design: This phase's goal is to define the set of interface objects and actions, i.e., control mechanisms that allow the user to perform desired tasks. Explain how these control mechanisms influence the system. Specify the task and subtask action sequence, also known as a user scenario. This phase lays the groundwork for the implementation phase.

3. Interface construction and implementation: The implementation process starts with producing a prototype (model) that can be used to test different usage scenarios. A User Interface toolkit that permits the creation of windows, menus, device interaction, error messages, commands, and many other parts of an interactive environment can be used to complete the construction of an interface while the iterative design process proceeds.

4. Interface Validation: This phase focuses on interface testing. The interface should be designed so that it can perform tasks correctly and handle a wide range of tasks. It should meet all of the user's expectations. It should be simple to use and understand. Users must accept the interface as a tool for their work.

UI Design Principles

There are eight qualities or characteristics that all great interfaces have in common:

  1. Clarity: The interface eliminates ambiguity by using language, flow, hierarchy, and metaphors for visual elements to make everything apparent.
  2. Concision:  If too many things are on the screen, finding what you're looking for is difficult, and so the interface becomes tedious to use.  The critical problem in creating an excellent interface is keeping it concise and clear.
  3. Familiarity: Even if someone is using an interface for the first time, certain elements may be familiar. To transmit meaning, real-life metaphors might be employed.
  4. Responsiveness: A decent user interface should not be slow. This means that the user should receive clear feedback from the interface about what's going on and whether their input is being correctly processed.
  5. Consistency: It's critical to keep your UI consistent throughout your program so that users can detect usage patterns.
  6. Aesthetics: While you don't need to make an interface attractive for it to do its job, making something look good will make the time your users spend using your application more enjoyable, and happier users can only be a good thing.
  7. Efficiency: Since time is money, a good interface should help the user be more productive by providing shortcuts and sound design.
  8. Forgiveness: An exemplary user interface should not punish users for their mistakes but instead provide tools for them to correct them.

FAQs

  1. What is UI design?
    The process of designing user interfaces in software or digital devices focusing on appearance or style is known as user interface (UI) design.
     
  2. What are the two categories of UI?
    There are two types of user interfaces:
    Command Line Interface
    Graphical User Interface
     
  3. Is GUI and UI the same?
    The terms "graphical user interface" (GUI) and "user interface" (UI) are interchangeable. The term "GUI" refers to a subset of the term "user interface." Screen readers and command-line interfaces are examples of non-graphical interfaces that aren't considered GUI.
     
  4. What's the difference between UX and UI?
    UI is made up of all the pieces that allow someone to engage with a product or service at its most basic level. The user experience, on the other hand, is what the person using the product or service gets out of the whole thing.
     
  5. Which are the principles of UI design?
    The principles of UI design are as follows:
    Put the user in charge of the user interface. Make interacting with a product pleasurable. Reduce your mental workload. Consistently design user interfaces.

Key Takeaways

The process of designing user interfaces in software or digital devices focusing on appearance or style is known as user interface (UI) design. In this blog, we have learned about User Interface Design and its categories - Command Line Interface and Graphical User Interface. We also learned about UI Design Process and its Principles.

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