If you do not know what a user interface is, Wikipedia provides a great description:
The user interface is (a place) where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of interaction between a human and a machine at the user interface is effective operation and control of the machine, and feedback from the machine which aids the operator in making operational decisions.In short, the user interface (also referred to as UI) is what you see when you are using a program. More and more web browsers are improving their UI's to make browsing the web easier on users. They are doing this by cleaning up the UI and making it easier to use and to look at.
Let's take a look at some examples to see the the common UI direction that web-browers are going. First, here are examples of Internet Explorer's UI.
Now, here is a look at the UI's of several recently updated alternative browsers:
The key thing to notice is that browsers are continuing to get more and more minimal. The different design teams have clearly worked hard to make some necessary changes to the browser landscape including:
- Eliminating or hiding unnecessary UI elements to make the browser easier to use.
- Pare down the number of drop-down menus
- Increase focus on the Address bar, back button, and search
Firefox's development team went so far as to create a heat map of the most frequently accessed tools in their browser. I found it to be incredibly interesting to see what tools people used the most. As you can see, this heat map shows where most of the focus in the new UI's of the browsers are coming from. These types of studies influence changes made to the browsers UI, which will benefit the average user.
The future continues to rely more and more on the web, and knowing that designer and developers are making it easier to use is a comforting thought.
Be sure to check out my post next week in this four part series on "The Future of Web Browsers: Why You Should be Excited." Next week I will talk about the interesting push toward web applications.