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1.6. Summary

User Interfaces are interfaces between the user and the computer. Via the interface the user controls the computer's actions.
Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) are a sub group of User Interfaces. These interfaces use pictures rather than words to represent the input and output of a program. "The program displays certain icons, buttons, dialogue boxes etc. in its windows on the screen and the user controls it mainly by moving a pointer on the screen (typically controlled by a mouse) and selecting certain objects by pressing buttons on the mouse while the pointer is pointing at them." (Linuxjunkies)

UI design can be organized around some basic criteria such as striving for consistency to eliminate possible distractions in the UI, providing feedback to the user, avoiding errors or making them easy to handle, and so on.

The design of a GUI should be User-Centered. That means that the needs, wants, and limitations of the end user of an interface are given extensive attention at each stage of the design process.

A GUI exists of four groups of GUI controls:

  • Input Elements
  • Output Elements
  • Selection Elements
  • Action Elements

GUI for Interactive Maps

A GUI of an interactive map consists of several map control elements that can be classified in the following functional groups and sub groups:

  • General Functions
  • Navigational Functions
    • Spatial Navigation
    • Thematic Navigation
    • Temporal Navigation
  • Didactical Functions
    • Explanatory Functions
    • Self-Control Functions
  • Cartographic and Visualisation Functions
    • Map Manipulation
    • Redlining
    • Explorative Data Analysis
  • GIS-Functions
    • Space- and Object-Oriented Query Functions
    • Thematic Query Functions
    • Analysis Functions

A good content organisation should always be strived for. Therefore, the grouping of objects with similar functions is an important part of the content organisation. Here are a few rules for the item organisation of a GUI:

  • Create groups of logically similar items.
  • Use familiar terminology, but ensure that items are distinct from one another.
  • Make sure that items are nonoverlapping.

The design of a GUI is always stamped with the designers ideas and mental attitude. Often, we cannot say that one GUI is better than another because each user acts different and has his/her own preferences in the handling of an application. Especially the choice of colours and their combination is a matter of taste. Therefore, one may like the appearing of a GUI and an other person does not like the Interface at all.

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