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The 5 main types of User Interfaces

User interfaces are the medium through which a user interacts with a system. Users don’t always understand the complicated computer language. User interfaces represent this complicated information in such a way that the users can easily relate to it. But there are different types of user interfaces for different purposes and users.

The 5 main types of user interface are-

Graphical User Interfaces (GUI)

Graphical User Interface are the most common type of interface these days. They consists of graphical elements which are easily perceivable by the users. GUI are also known as WIMP interfaces. This is because they use Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointers. Xerox Alto computer was the first system to demonstrate GUI. Xerox PARC developed it in 1973.

Few examples of Graphical User Interfaces are operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, websites and apps, business applications, etc.

Example of Graphical User Interface
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Command Line Interface (CLI)

Command Line Interface are those old interfaces which works on commands. These are not very user friendly because they require the user to remember lots of commands and programming skills to work efficiently. CLI are difficult to use but are very powerful as they can work well with the internal components of computer system unlike the GUI. Therefore, they are most commonly used by users which are technicians, operators, network managers, etc.

UNIX, LINUX, MS DOS, etc are examples of Command Line Interface.

Example of Command Line Interface
Example of Command Line Interface

Natural Language Interface (NLI)

Natural Language Interface use human language to interact with the users. These types of user interfaces use languages like English, French, etc in a very humanistic way so that users don’t feel like they are talking to a robot. NLI can be verbal or written.

In verbal interfaces, it feels like someone is talking to you and getting the work done for you. Most common examples are Apple’s SIRI, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. However, in written NLI, it feels like someone is chatting with you and again helping get your work done. For example, Chat Bots which appear at almost every customer service and help solve the common issues.

Example of Natural Language Interface
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Menu-driven Interfaces

Menu-driven Interface are used for very specific purposes which only requires a few options or a small menu to be given to the users. Still, the users are almost always able to achieve their tasks with those limited options. The options can be in the form of buttons which can be either touch-based or physical.

Few examples of Menu-driven interfaces are ATM machines, vending machines, coffee machines, etc.

Example of Menu-driven Interface
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Form-based User Interfaces

Form-based Interface are very straight forward and does what the name suggest. They mimic a physical form and are used when heavy input data is required from the users. Form-based interfaces use form elements like text box, drop down list, radio buttons, check boxes, etc. They are mainly used when huge amount of information needs to be gathered and processed for different purposes. In addition, form-based interfaces help in maintaining consistency in data for easy processing.

Registration forms, application forms for educational purposes, forms to apply for credit card, etc are few examples.

Example of Form-based Interface
Example of Form-based Interface


In conclusion, we explained the 5 main types of user interfaces. We talked about Graphical User Interface (GUI), Command Line Interface (CLI), Natural Language Interface (NLI), Menu-driven Interface and Form-based Interface. Also, we discussed examples for the types of user interfaces so that it is easy to relate. Hope you liked this article! Stay tuned for more interesting ones!

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