What is user interface?

The user interface (UI) is the point at which human users interact with a computer, website or application. The goal of effective UI is to make the user’s experience easy and intuitive, requiring minimum effort on the user’s part to receive maximum desired outcome.

UI is created in layers of interaction that appeal to the human senses (sight, touch, auditory and more). They include both input devices like keyboard, mouse, trackpad, microphone, touch screen, fingerprint scanner, e-pen and camera and output devices like monitors, speakers and printers. Devices that interact with multiple senses are called “multimedia user interfaces”. For example, everyday UI uses a combination of tactile input (keyboard and mouse) and a visual and auditory output (monitor and speakers).

Other types of user interfaces can include:

  • Form-based user interface: Used to enter data into a program or application by offering a limited selection of choices. For example, a settings menu on a device is form-based.

  • Graphical user interface: A tactile UI input with a visual UI output (keyboard and monitor).

  • Menu-driven user interface: A UI that uses a list of choices to navigate within a program or website. For example, ATMs use menu-driven UIs and are easy for anyone to use.

  • Touch user interface: User interface through haptics or touch. Most smartphones, tablets and any device that operates using a touch screen use haptic input.

  • Voice user interface: Interactions between humans and machines using auditory commands. Examples include virtual assistant devices, talk-to-text, GPS and much more