Science, Tech, Math › Social Sciences Benefits of the Graphical User Interface Pros to the GUI Share Flipboard Email Print Laura Lezza / Getty Images Social Sciences Ergonomics Psychology Sociology Archaeology Economics Maritime By Chris Adams Engineering Expert B.I.D, Industrial and Product Design, Auburn University Chris Adams is a human factors engineer who writes about ergonomics and has 11 years of experience in the field. our editorial process Chris Adams Updated February 16, 2018 The graphical user interface (GUI; sometimes pronounced “gooey”) is used by most commercially popular computer operating systems and software programs today. It's the kind of interface that allows users to manipulate elements on the screen using a mouse, a stylus, or even a finger. This kind of interface allows word processing or web design programs, for example, to offer WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) options. Before GUI systems became popular, command line interface (CLI) systems were the norm. On these systems, users had to input commands using lines of coded text. The commands ranged from simple instructions for accessing files or directories to far more complicated commands that required many lines of code. As you might imagine, GUI systems have made computers far more user-friendly than CLI systems. Benefits to Businesses and Other Organizations A computer with a well-designed GUI can be used by almost anybody, regardless of how technically savvy the user might be. Consider the cash management systems, or computerized cash registers, in use in stores and restaurants today. Inputting information is as simple as pressing numbers or images on a touchscreen in order to place orders and calculate payments, whether they be cash, credit, or debit. This process of inputting information is simple, practically anybody can be trained to do it, and the system can store all of the sales data for later analysis in countless ways. Such data collection was far more labor-intensive in the days before GUI interfaces. Benefits to Individuals Imagine trying to browse the web using a CLI system. Instead of pointing and clicking on links to visually stunning websites, users would have to call up text-driven directories of files and perhaps have to remember long, complicated URLs in order to input them manually. It certainly would be possible, and much valuable computing was done when CLI systems dominated the market, but it could be tedious and generally was limited to work-related tasks. If viewing family photos, watching videos, or reading the news on a home computer meant having to memorize sometimes long or complex command inputs, not many people would find that to be a relaxing way to spend their time. CLI's Value Perhaps the most obvious example of CLI's value is with those who write code for software programs and web designs. GUI systems make tasks more accessible to average users, but combining a keyboard with a mouse or a touchscreen of some sort can be time-consuming when the same task can be accomplished without having to take one's hands away from the keyboard. Those who write code know the command codes they need to include and don't want to waste time pointing and clicking if it's not necessary. Inputting commands manually also offers precision that a WYSIWYG option in a GUI interface might not provide. For example, if the goal is to create an element for a web page or a software program that has a precise width and height in pixels, it can be faster and more accurate to input those dimensions directly than to try and draw the element with a mouse.