When computers came, they were just a bunch of ugly boxes that could follow a few commands and that too from the people who made them or those who knew some sort of coding. However, to make computers available to all a graphic user interface was developed so that everyone and anyone can communicate with them. Then came windows, navigation symbols, icons and what not. They facilitated the interaction between man and machine. The graphic user interface has seen 2 most important revolution according to me (There can be more or less but this is just my view). Once when the interface was invented. It was new thing even for the tech savvy people of the silicon valley. For the first time they were seeing their lines of code transform into pixels in a way that anyone could interact with them without necessarily knowing C or C++ or any other programming language for that matter.
A second revolution to the GUI came when Apple completely tried to revolutionise the user experience by putting in equal time and effort on how their product looked as compared to how it performed. They made a statement that items of interconnectivity need not be ugly. They gave the inanimate systems a fashion statement. Maybe this is perhaps one of the reasons why apple is on its way today to become the first ever trillion dollar company.
Anyways, what is this graphic user interface or UI (User Interface) as it is popularly known? If you go by the technical definition then the wikipedia source says that UI, in the industrial design field of human–computer interaction, is the space where interactions between humans and machines occur. Basically it is a bunch of icons and windows working to make your time at a system fun and interesting. But wait up. You already knew that didn’t you?
I personally believe that UI doesn't stand for User Interface but it screams out “YOU & I”. Yep you read it right. “YOU & I” that is what the computers are telling you. That is the essence of the term UI. Sounds far fetched? I know. But hear me out. Essentially all everything created in a user interface revolves around two simple facts:
Knowing how this interaction can be made smooth and efficient is the crux behind great UI designing. And those who understand this simple fact look at UI designing in a completely different way than the rest of the herd. I know absolutely nothing about coding and yet i sit here on system majorly based on computer coded softwares and writing a blog on Google Docs about why the UI is important. How convenient !!
Now, coming to the business aspect of having a great UI. You must have seen crowd gathering around street performers at a marketplace. Why is that? Because people are not used to seeing such things everyday. Sometimes even the stupidest thing can fetch a lot of attention. More than you would expect. Now the same can be applied for a well built UI. It will attract traffic to your website. And eventually someone from that very traffic can become your potential clients. Now an extremely bad UI may pull in initial traffic but most of the people will flock in to see how bad you are rather than good and the craze will eventually die. And i don't think you’d want that. The key take away, however, from the above stated scenario is that your UI has to be different to pull in traffic to your website but it has to be really great to maintain that traffic level. Your UI is your first impression and you just can't take that big a risk to mess it up.