A graphical user interface (GUI) is the means by which a user interacts with a computer or other electronic device. You’re most likely reading this using a graphical user interface. Depending on the device, users can interact with a GUI using a mouse, keyboard, touch screen, or even voice instructions.

Before GUI, we communicated with computers through written commands, often known as CLI (command-line interface). In a CLI, if you want to see the contents of a folder named docs, you would open the command prompt and type something like cd docs, which will open the folder, followed by ls, which will show me the contents of this folder. A GUI, on the other hand, allows you to simply double-click on the folder’s icon and you Look at its material right away.

The transition to GUIs made technology more user-centric and readily available. Regardless of whether or not you know how to program, GUIs have enabled technology to become a part of our daily life.

A Brief History of GUI 

User Interface - Ryte Wiki - The Digital Marketing Wiki
Source: Ryte

GUIs were first presented in the 1970s by Xerox’s Palo Alto research laboratories. Following that, firms such as Apple (1983) and Microsoft (1985) created their own operating system, graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for personal computers rather than only computer science research. We now have very complex graphical user interfaces on laptops, smartphones, and even in our cars and appliances. These graphical user interfaces make engaging with technology easier and more accessible to everyone, not only programmers, technology specialists, and scientists.

How Does a Graphic User Interface Work?

As technology evolves, so does our interaction with GUIs. In a span of years, we progressed from a mouse and keyboard to touch screens and voice commands.

Every GUI contains a set of graphics, shapes, and colors that have been programmed to accomplish specific tasks. These graphics are frequently chosen to be straightforward for consumers to understand. Because an email is an electronic letter, the icon for your email inbox is in the shape of an envelope. When developers create a graphical user interface, they define a series of commands that will be executed after the user clicks on a given icon. Without a graphical user interface, the user would have to type commands directly into the command line, restricting how accessible any specific piece of software is. As a result, the accessibility of any given piece of technology is limited. Thus the GUI is simply a more effective way for humans to interface with the machine.

A UX designer will optimize the GUI’s design based on the necessary functionalities. Colors, sizes, shapes, content, and user flows for a GUI are decided by UX designers, and a UI engineer or programmer codes the functionality of the GUI.

GUIs are built using a variety of programming languages, including Python, HTML5/JavaScript, and C/C++. The programming language used is determined by the target platform. The programming language used is determined by the target platform. For example, programmers will utilize JavaScript and HTML to create a website GUI, which concerns the site’s design and navigation. Alternatively, when a programmer creates a computer application (such as a game), they are more likely to utilize C/C++, Python, or another programming language that enables creating programs for the target platform.

Components of a GUI 

A graphical user interface (GUI) is the interface through which a user interacts with electronic devices. A GUI’s components can be divided into three groups.

  • Input Controls: We utilize input controls to obtain information from the user about the tasks they wish to complete. Buttons, text fields, checkboxes, dropdown lists, and list boxes are examples of input controls.
  • Navigational Components: Items that regulate the movement from one GUI to another are classified as navigational components. For example, if you’re on LinkedIn, you can go to “My Feed” to see the posts your network has posted, or “My Profile” to see your profile. These clickable text blocks are examples of navigational components because they allow you to move through the website’s many web pages.
  • Informational components are those that provide a piece of information to the user regarding the status of a task or other system information. For example, a progress bar, notification symbol, or message box are all examples of informative components.

What to look for in a good GUI?

Because practically everyone interacts with GUIs on a regular basis, a key topic to consider is: What makes a good, effective GUI? There are a few design decisions that, in general, constitute a decent GUI.

  • Simplicity. The simpler the design, the easier it is for people to utilize and adapt the GUI on a regular basis.
  • Elements are used consistently. When we create a website, for example, we must ensure that the colors and overall theme are consistent throughout the platform, making it easy to navigate.
  • Color theory is being utilized. Colors can drastically alter how a user views an icon or feature on the screen, so making the right choice is crucial. For example, we frequently utilize the

For example, the color green is frequently used to indicate “continue,” but red is used to convey “stop.” As a result, if I create a GUI and make the OK button red and the cancel button green, users may become confused.

  • Transitions between the various components of the GUI are smooth. Consider Google search: the transition from the page where you enter your query to the results page is subtle and quick. The user can figure out how to navigate between pages. The buttons are strategically positioned, and the transition between pages is fluid.

Examples of GUI

Every day, we interface with GUIs. GUIs can be found everywhere, from ATM graphics to video game animations to smartphone operating systems. Microsoft Windows, macOS, Android, and Apple’s iOS are all popular graphical user interfaces that we use on a daily basis. GUIs are also used to interface with web browsers such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox.


Graphical user interfaces have become so commonplace that we take them for granted. But, prior to the advent of graphical user interfaces, far fewer people used computers. The GUI signified the transition from a niche interest for tech geeks to the new technological revolution we’ve witnessed over the last 30 years.

That is why it is critical to take a step back and recognise how much effort has gone into making computers so usable. It’s up to you, as a designer, to figure out where we’re heading next.