TUI, DUI, and PUI: Not Disney. User Experience

June 16, 2010

A happy quack to the reader who sent me a link to the June 8, 2010, write up “Three Types of GUIs – Past, Present and the Future.” My sense of humor subsystem processed the acronyms as “Toohee”, “Dewey”, and Poohee. I was incorrect. The acronyms refer to three types of graphical interfaces.

  • TUI is the tool user interface. Think of this interface as the Microsoft Word and Excel type of iconage and menu systems.
  • DUI is the desk top user interface. The idea is that enterprise software systems present the user with an environment. A user of a payroll system or a customer relationship management system lives and works within the application’s interface. In some MBA-dense businesses, Excel becomes the environment.
  • PUI is a process user interface. The example is using a browser to navigate to an application to make an airline reservation.

I found the write up interesting, and I quite liked the notion of a PUI or process centric user interface. I hear a lot about search-based applications and search embedded in enterprise systems.

For me, the most interesting comment in the write up was:

Now imagine business or enterprise apps that are process based, not single task items knit together by DIY process: An app that can pick up an idea, issue or request and run it through an unpredictable process that might look like a ball of yarn all the way to an implemented idea, a solved issue or a happy customer. For these, forget DUIs and TUIs, think PUIs. Imagine wizardly step by step, think two choices and a submit button, think that you will get exactly the information and the choices to make, or fields to fill in at the right time, then add what the iPhone and now the iPad has done to interface thinking. That is the future of business and enterprise apps and UIs. Bye bye to a million blog posts using the term “intuitive”, hello “just do it”.

I agree.

Stephen E Arnold, June 16, 2010


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