With the help of Graphical User Interface (GUI), occasionally pronounced ‘gooey’, users interact with electronic gadgets via colorful icons and visual displays. In other words it’s a software interface via which accessing and using computer programs (hopefully) becomes a breeze.
The mouse, for example, is a handy hardware instrument that makes maneuvering text and images on a display screen look so simple. By manipulating the mouse-directed screen cursor a user quickly selects options from menus, activates applications by clicking icons, or sift through choices using buttons, so on and so forth — but that little bundle of hardware would mean nothing without the powerful user interface designs that allow it’s rollings and clicks to mean something to a computer.
A GUI is a system that has standardized working with computer programs. Graphical User Interfaces are in every nook and cranny of our modern lives – on websites, on mobile devices, on the display screen of televisions, and even on your washing machines and wrist-watches.
An awesome user interface makes for a happy user — likewise a terrible user-interface creates a frustrated user. That’s the saddest part. Despite such a wide ranging usability the ‘user interface’ facet of web design just has not been paid the kind of attention that’s required.
The job of a graphic designer is to produce beautiful stuff – at the same time he also has to ensure that the design doesn’t create any user interface conflicts. It all boils down to creating designs for the end-users, and to produce a product that enhances the quality of users’ experience, making a users’ life easier.
Let’s check out the new trends currently in vogue in user interface design:
Google and Microsoft, the trend-setters in software, have taken a u-turn – they are turning to making interface designs with minimal bells and whistles. They are of a feeling that the current trend is quick, intuitive interfaces, free from clutter. Simple single-color icons, rich gradients having plain solid color combinations is the way forward.
Minimalistic interfaces are the craze today. Windows 8 interface design is seeing a shift towards monochromatic icons plus simple solid colors. Likewise, Pinterest has a minimalist user interface – barring user content, you’ll not see any other element that takes up space on the screen.
Users today love the spartan nature of these visual details – they love an interface that’s easy to consume and has elements that don’t block the tasks they are trying to finish.
In a laser focused interface the visual focus is placed on a single, visible task that needs to be done when a user opens a web application, in place of giving various options having equal importance. A good thing about this interface design is that it makes it easy for the user, to discern what the application is about and what the indicated action is.
Google homepage is the top example of this class of web application – the search box is clearly visible, while all other elements are downgraded. This kind of laser-like focus is becoming more and more common among app designers, and web design is sure to follow.
Context Sensitive Navigation
When it’s about getting a clutter-free design a context sensitive design naturally comes into picture. It’s more like dynamic user interfaces – a user decides the navigation elements he wants to see on the screen all the time, and stuff he wants becoming visible, only in particular situations or actions.
A nice example is Pinterest; the action buttons pop up when you hover a pin. Likewise, in Gmail message action buttons appear whenever the message is selected. This makes working with these applications simple, and simple is the goal of the modern GUI.