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Human Computer Interface. A term used to describe the interaction between the user and a computer. The method by which the user tells the computer what to do and the responses which the computer makes. Importance of good interface design.

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human computer interface

Human Computer Interface

A term used to describe the interaction between the user and a computer. The method by which the user tells the computer what to do and the responses which the computer makes

importance of good interface design

Importance of good interface design

A good interface design ensures that users carry out their tasks

Safely – think of a pilot flying a jumbo jet

Effectively – operating a video recorder successfully to record the correct program

Efficiently – users can obtain money from a cash machine, inserting card and pin, obtaining cash and removing their card

Enjoyably – can use a computer program to learn tables, for example

interface styles

Interface Styles

There are a number of interface styles including:

Command line interface


Natural Language

Forms and dialogue boxes


command line interface
Command Line Interface
  • Provides a means of expressing instructions to the computer directly using single characters, whole word commands or abbreviations.
  • Very little help is given.
  • Commands enable a user to quickly and concisely instruct the computer what to do
  • User requires the knowledge of the commands available and the syntax for using them
  • Operates via DOS
menu interface
Menu interface
  • Full screen menu – front end application use. Stays on screen until the user makes a choice. Eg A switchboard on a database
  • Pull down menu – displayed along the top of a screen. When the user clicks on an item, a submenu appears. Always present at the top of the screen whatever screen the user is looking at in the application.
  • Pop-up menu – menu pops up due to a response, say, a click of the right mouse button on a particular area of the screen.
natural language plain english
Natural Language – “plain English”


  • No need for training in a specialised command language
  • Extremely flexible and powerful
  • User is free to construct her own commands, frame her own questions, etc.


  • People find it difficult to stick to grammatical correct English
  • A well designed artificial language can say the same thing more concisely than natural language
  • A natural language can mislead a user into believing the computer is more intelligent than it actually is
forms dialogue boxes
Forms & Dialogue Boxes
  • A form is used to enter data, such as customers names.
  • A dialogue box is a special type of form, usually in the Windows environment, for example, a form appears when a print job is set up to the printer.

Points to consider when designing a form:-

  • Should have a title to identify it
  • Not be too cluttered – space and blanks are important
  • Corrections should be allowed before the data is accepted
  • Items should appear in a logical sequence to assist the user
  • Default values should be set up whenever possible so a minimum of data entry is required
  • Full help and exit facilities should be provided
wimp interface
WIMP Interface

Windows, Icons, Mouse and pull down menus.

  • Window – area on screen through which a particular piece of software or data file may be viewed.
  • The window can be the whole screen or several windows can be set up, each one being moved or resized, as necessary.
  • An icon is a small picture representing an item such as a piece of software. Selected by using the mouse.
  • Mouse moves a cursor, positioning it were required and then selecting the item.