Human Computer Interfaces

The operating system of devices provide an interface for users to interact with the device.

GUI – Graphic User Interface

Users interact using windows, icons, menus and pointers. Some GUIs will have additional features like help screens, shortcuts and toolbars. Most laptops and desktops use GUIs.


  • Intuitive – easy to use with no complicated commands or complex code to learn.
  • Compatibility – data can be exchanged easily between applications (importing data or simple copy and paste)


  • Storage Space – these interfaces require a lot of storage space on the hard drive
  • Memory – similarly, the size of the GUIs mean that they take up a lot of space on RAM when running.
  • Processing – the complex graphics and shortcuts mean that GUIs are processor intensive
  • Speed – experts may find the GUI slower to use than a CLI

Touch Sensitive Interface

Building on from GUIs, touch sensitive interfaces can use elements of GUIs but add additional ways to interact such as swiping and pinching.


  • Very intuitive – 2 year olds can easily learn how to use touch sensitive interfaces.
  • No Peripherals – you don’t need a keyboard or mouse to interact.
  • Simple – no hand eye coordination required – the user can simply touch the required option on the screen.


  • Tricky – on smaller devices it can be difficult to click on small icons.
  • Screens – the screens can get dirty or even damage from frequent use.
  • Fatigue – desktop touch screens that are set up in a traditional fashion require the user to stretch forward to touch the screen. This could cause fatigue over prolonged periods of time and so screen should be set up lower down and closer to the user.
  • Calibration – over time touch sensitive interfaces may need to be recalibrated (Thanks Connor)

Menu DrivenIPod_Classic_6th_Generation_Black

Simple devices that do not require complex interfaces can use a simple set of menus to access all available options.


  • Intuitive – easy for new users with no commands to remember or icons to find.


  • Cumbersome – it can be annoying clicking through lots of menus to access an option.
  • RSI – Users could get repetitive strain injuries from clicking repeatedly on the same menu options.

Voice Driven Interface

Often used in cars and more recently in tablets and smart phones to allow users to enter commands by simply speaking.


  • Speed – most people can speak faster than they can type
  • Simplicity – no code, sequences or icons to remember
  • RSI – less likely to develops strains.
  • Multitasking – you can drive a car or walk around while using a device
  • Disabled User – may find it easier to use if they have visual or motor difficulties


  • Understanding – strong accents, speech impediments, background noise or even a cold may result in the interface misunderstanding instructions.
  • Privacy – difficult to keep data private if you have to say it out loud.
  • Homophones – interface may misunderstand words that sound the same.


This is a text based interface where all input is simply typed in.


  • Speed – experts can type commands quickly without having to bother clicking through lots of icons or menus.
  • Processing – this basic interface requires very little processing power.
  • Memory/ Storage – similarly these interfaces require little storage space on the hard drive or on memory.


  • Training – these interfaces are not intuitive and require training.
  • Commands – all the commands need to be learned.




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