GUI interface showing icons on Windows desktop

Advantages, disadvantages, and features of GUI

A graphic user interface (GUI) is a visual interface through which a system or device user interacts with the computer. GUI interface is characterized by having small graphical representation images called icons, uses of buttons, window interface, and menus among other features. The graphical representation makes the interface more user-friendly and simple to learn.

The main benefits of using GUI are user-friendly, simple to learn and users can customize the interface to their preference. However, the system requires more resources to execute and store the graphics. The main characteristic of GUI is WIMP. This is the use of Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointers to interact with the system.

Features of GUI interface

For the graphic interface system to be user-friendly today’s computing devices come with features that are mostly on the operating system.  The operating system types determine if the device will use GUI or other types of interface. These are some of the characteristics that can also be considered by programmers when they are designing a GUI application software.

  1. Graphical elements. The system uses a wide range of graphical elements such as icons, windows, toolbars, scroll bars, and sliders, among others. They are sometimes called WIMP for Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointers.
  2. Use of pointers and cursor.GUI interface supports the use of all kinds of pointing devices such as a mouse, trackball, touchpad, touchscreen, etc.
  3. Drag and drop. This is where the user is able to click an icon hold and move it from one point on the screen to another. This is a GUI feature that makes moving document simple and fast.
  4. Customizable interface. Users can customize their screen background interface using background images, and wallpapers, and apply different themes among others. This feature allows the user to personalize their device to their preference and taste.
  5. Use of icons and shortcuts. GUI interface uses standard icons to represent different commands. For example, the icon to print, and save a document are universally known. The use of shortcuts is also a unique feature that makes command access faster.
  6. Menus and toolbars.GUI interface comes with menus that give a list of options for users to choose from. A toolbar is a group of icons that can be used to give different commands in a GUI interface. Toolbars can be used as shortcuts to menu commands.
  7. User accessibility tools. Devices that run on Windows or Mac operating system which use GUI, offers user ease of access tools that can be used by users who are physically impaired in one way or another.

Functions of GUI

The graphic user interface acts as an interface that links the user with the hardware, operating system, and other application software. It provides a graphic interactive way for the user to perform actions such as clicking, opening files, dragging and dropping, and using other visual elements.

Components of Graphic User Interface (GUI)

For a system to implement GUI interface it should at least have some of the following graphic elements. They may be used for different functions in different systems but if present then we can system that has a GUI interface.

  1. Windows. This is a rectangular section when you open an icon. It opens a working area and usually has buttons used to minimize, maximize and close the window.
  2. Icons. This is a small image or graphic that represents a specific command, file, shortcut, etc.
  3. Menus. These are options that are arranged in levels where the user can click on the command name to execute it. It usually comes as a list for users to choose from.
  4. Toolbars. These are buttons that are grouped together and each has its specific function. Toolbars are mostly at the top part of the window although the user can customize and position them in a different location.
  5. Buttons. It is a graphic that represents a command and it is activated to give a command when click on.
  6. Progress, scroll, and slider bars. These are used to scroll the document or the window from side to side, and up and down.
  7. Checkboxes and radio buttons. They are used to give users the option to choose different options available. Checkbox allows a user to select more than one option while with the radio button, only one option can be selected. 
  8. Dialog boxes. It is mostly a pop-up box that prompts the user to react to a specific action. Mostly dialog boxes are given priority and users must deal with them before they proceed to the next step.
  9. Ribbon. It is a feature that is becoming common and it is replacing the menus and toolbars at the top of the window. It gives icons that represent different commands.
  10. List and combo box. These are used to display a list of items. List box the list can be viewed as a whole list. While with a combo box, you have one item then when you click on the box it generates a dropdown list of other items on the list.

Advantages of Graphic User Interface (GUI)

  1. Simple to learn. A system that is designed to use GUI is simple to learn since it uses common standard icons that are recognizable. When you master one type of system it becomes simple to learn another.
  2. User friendly. The graphic interface is simple to use because the user needs to interact with the graphic element to give commands.
  3. Graphical representation. People are more attracted to using visual elements which are found in GUI systems. It is more engaging to the user than the command systems
  4. Multitasking. Most operating systems that offer GUI interfaces are multitasking systems. This means they can execute many processes at any given time.
  5. Customizable to user preference. The graphic interface gives users more options to customize their interface by changing the background, themes, color, and general outlook of the interface. This gives it a more personalized working screen.
  6. It makes searching content from the system very simple and fast.
  7. GUI interfaces are more accessible to users with disabilities and other physical impairments than command-line interface-based systems

Disadvantages of GUI

  1. Requires more system resources. For a system to process all those graphics it requires more RAM to store and a better processor to execute the command. This means a high-specification device.
  2. Less efficient. It requires more steps to carry out a task compared to using of command-based system. This means for an experienced user it is more time wastage.
  3. It is more prone to user-generated errors from the inaccurate clicking of the icon. Using a point device user is more likely to click the wrong icon compared to using a command where they either know the command or not. Users can use guesswork to give wrong commands.
  4. The system is slower compared to the command-based system when executing instructions.
  5. Users are limited to using only those commands that are presented on the interface. This limits users to only those commands that are available.

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