STEP 11

Create Meaningful Graphics, Icons, and Images

The graphics era in interface and screen design began with the Xerox Star computer in the 1970s and fully blossomed with the advent of Apple's Lisa and Macintosh in the mid-1980s. GUI systems rapidly began to supplement the earlier text-based systems that had been in existence for three decades. When Microsoft finally entered the picture with their Windows system, GUI systems quickly became the dominant user interface. The significant graphical feature of a GUI system is the use of icons (the symbolic representation of objects, such as applications, office tools, and storage locations) and the symbolic representation of actions that could be applied to objects. The faces of many 1990s and beyond GUI screens scarcely resembled their older text-based siblings of the mid- to late-twentieth century.

The graphical evolution in interface design was further expanded in the 1990s with the maturing of the World Wide Web. The Web permitted easy inclusion of other media on a screen, including images, photographs, video, diagrams, drawings, and spoken audio. Because these media, including icons, could be combined in various ways, the term multimedia was coined to describe these combinations. A Web interface, then, has its foundation in GUI systems, but it has added its own unique elements to screen design.

Screen graphics, if used properly, can be a powerful communication and attention-getting technique. They can hold the user's attention, ...

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