Don’t get GUI : Get NUI!

Have you been getting NUI recently? If you’ve ever used a touch screen then you’re well on the way to the brave new world of ‘Natural User Interfaces’.


Well, that’s what they were calling it over at UX Week in San Francisco. But it’s also know as ‘Gestural User Interfaces’ by many.

NUI will be preceded by GUI (‘Graphical User Interfaces’ – still predominant today), and before that CLI (‘Command Line Interfaces’).

Some programmers still prefer CLI (are you old enough to remember DOS?) and it’s amazing to watch the speed at which they work in an alphanumeric world.

And then there’s the not-so-distant-future of OUI (‘Organic User Interfaces’). It’ll blow your mind… I’ll blog about OUI at a later date.

So, whether you like it or not, NUI is the next wave of human-computer interaction. Pull your socks up and get ready!

On the Click Suite blog I mentioned new Windows features based on software it calls “multi-touch”. This will be part of the next version of Windows due out in 2009.

We’ve been living with NUI for quite a while. Touch-screen kiosks, ATMs, the Palm Pilots and more recently the iPhone.

But many of the interactions we see on touch-screens still conform to GUI-style buttons and commands. Even the majority of iPhone apps are stuck in the old-world paradigm of point and click. That’s because the people designing this stuff are still stuck in GUI.

The true potential of NUI won’t happen until GUI designers step outside their comfort zone. They need to understand that interaction with a computer via a keyboard and mouse is different from a gestural interaction with your fingers and a touch-screen.

The beauty of mutli-touch and touch-screen is that you can break-out of the point and click mentality. The primary input device becomes the human finger (which is a lot more flexible and nimble than a mouse).

For example, on the iPhone and Microsoft Surface you can zoom pictures, maps and web pages using a ‘stretch’ or ‘shrink’ gesture with your fingers. A traditional GUI interface would require you to multiple-click a [+] or [-] icon to achieve the same zooming action.

So, are YOU getting NUI?


UPANZ Wellington – Spring Meeting – NUI, Strategy, Trees

  • When: 12-1.30pm, Tuesday 2 Sep 2008
  • Where: Ground-floor conference room, Statistics House, The Boulevard, Harbour Quays, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Who: Anyone (UPA members and non-members)
  • Cost: Free!


  • Natural User Interfaces (Zef Fugaz, Click Suite)
  • Design Strategy (Lulu Pachuau, Provoke Solutions)
  • Tree Testing (Dave O’Brien, Optimal Usability)


The brave new world of Natural User Interfaces
Zef Fugaz, Click Suite

Multi-touch is one of the most talked-about interaction paradigms, with the iPhone raising awareness of what\’s possible. But even single-touch screens and the burgeoning trend of multi-user interfaces represent significant interface design challenges.

Removing the mouse, the keyboard, and even menus and buttons from the user experience might seem radical, but therein lies the path to the natural user interface, or NUI, which could herald a major shift in interface design.

Zef will talk about the basics of designing for touchscreens and gestural interfaces and look at what\’s happening in NZ and overseas.

Zef\’s focus is experience design\’, which encapsulates user research, interaction design and information architecture.


Lulu Pachuau, Provoke Solutions

Most web projects lose focus, taking longer and costing more than we estimate at the start. There is constant scope creep and feature-itis that tends to crop up during the course of our web projects. With new technologies emerging every day for the web, it is hard to know what to use let alone what to do first.

Having a strategy for your website means knowing where your investment is focused and how you can measure the return. Whether you\’re selling things, providing services and information or promoting your company, it is imperative to any business to have a road-map that gives you a big-picture view of where you are going and potential opportunities along the way.

This talk will present tips and techniques on how to develop a plan on what to focus on, to help guide your web projects, technology decisions and how to present it back to your stakeholders through design.

Lulu Pachuau is an interaction designer and an experience design consultant at Provoke Solutions in Wellington.


A New Way To Evaluate Your IA
Dave O’Brien, Optimal Usability

When you work on information architecture, card sorting is a great way to get user input and generate ideas. But once you’ve come up with an IA (or several candidates), what’s the quickest way to find out how well it works?

At Optimal, we’ve been experimenting with a method called tree testing, designed to get objective data about the findability and labeling of items in a tree. We’ve built a simple web tool that lets us quickly test an IA on real users, without having to build the site itself.

Dave will talk about tree testing as a method, building a web tool for it, and what he’s learned so far from running tree tests with clients.


Access by road is from Aotea Quay at the traffic lights near the stadium. Parking is pay-and-display.

There is also a footpath beside the sheds and construction site on the harbour side of Aotea Quay, and a bridge walkway from the railway station and stadium. Get to the walkway from the north end of several rail platforms, and from the steps opposite East Day Spa on Thorndon Quay. Because of construction, you now have to go up onto the walkway ramp and then down steps to The Boulevard to get to the front door.

Please sign in at reception, then head left through the library. Tea and coffee will be provided.

See you there!