Happy Tuesday, readers! Reader UI of the Week is here to brighten your day. It's been hectic here at Addon Central -- there are a lot of cool things in the works. The positive responses to the column over the past months have been wonderful, and the amount of people we've helped is staggering. Thank you all so much for your contributions.
Reader UI of the Week sets its sights on Skippah's UI, a no-nonsense, bold user interface that effectively uses screen real estate as well as keeping a clean theme. The user interface feels bare-bones, but in a good way -- the kind of feeling you have after you clean the living room and things are where they should be, with a lot less dust. Jump on in, this week's UI is totally double rainbow.
I'm sure Skippah has a few things to say about his UI. Let's hear it:
Dear WoW.com staff and readers,
Hello all! My name is Kyle and I play a protection warrior named Skippah on the US realm Skullcrusher. I have created easily over 50 different UI's in my time, and while some of these have definitely looked better than others, I found that when it comes to a UI you want the most power you can get out of the most unobstructed interface. With these goals in mind, I strove to create a simplistic and fun, yet intuitive interface for all of you.
The UI that you are looking at is a result of many years and many iterations of different addons.
*Note - It is optimized for protection warriors but may easily be adjusted for any other class who wishes to use this UI.
Starting from the top left -> right in a clockwise manner -
In the top left corner are the buff/debuff bars. I chose to place them here because I wanted to create an interface that seemed as even as possible. Having the buff bars on the right just always seemed to throw the balance off.
At the top of the screen is an easily collapsible info bar called Titan Panel which I use to show gear durability, framerate, loot type, AtlasLoot, Elitist Group, and of course, the time.
In the top right corner is my minimap which I display as a simple square using the addon SexyMap.
Underneath the minimap is the threat meter, shown by the addon Omen Threat Meter.
Below the threat meter is the all popular and ubiquitous Recount damage meter.
For the unit frames I used Shadowed Unit Frames which is a light and extremely customizable addon. I use it to display parties/raids underneath the main frame because I have found that it is a lot easier to see everyone's health/mana when they are all situated at the same spot on the screen.
For button frames, Bartender 4 I found to be king. With it's versatility and ease to set up, I have grown in love with this addon over the years. On top of the button frame is the addon OmniCC which shows ability cooldowns as a simple countdown timer.
In the bottom left of the UI is the chat log where it is usually found. I used Prat 3.0 to customize the look of the frame.
In the middle of the screen on top of my character is the addon Power Auras Classic. Since this is a PvE protection warrior optimized UI, the addon is set to display a shield whenever I have aggro.
Below Power Auras Classic is Deadly Boss Mods which warns of many fight mechanics.
This UI uses the following addons:
Deadly Boss Mods
Omen Threat Meter
Power Auras Classic
Shadowed Unit Frames
I am continuing to create new interfaces all the time and would greatly appreciate any constructive feedback on how to further improve my UI so that it is easier for everyone to use. (:
Skippah, US Skullcrusher
Thank you very much for the submission, Skippah. The first thing you'll notice about Skippah's UI is how nice and neat everything is lined up. Action bars, raid frames and targeting frames are all cleanly aligned. My heart grew 10 times its size when I saw the raid frames -- raid frame nirvana was at hand. Skippah's stated goals of simplistic and fun definitely shine through, so let's explore what makes this UI so neat.
Unit and raid frames to die for
Skippah's unit frames layout is powered by Shadowed Unit Frames (SUF), my preferred unit frame addon. The layout shown here illustrates exactly why I love SUF -- the addon is crisp, clear and can be configured to be incredibly basic. I used to think unit frames had to be a huge ordeal, with buff and debuff tracking above, below and all around the unit frames. Slowly I realized that this did not have to be the case. A setup like Skippah's is excellent for tanks and DPS because your debuffs on your targets will more than likely be managed by a cooldown or notification tracker like Sexycooldown or Power Auras. Why make the unit frame addon work a double shift when you already are running specialized addons to be those work horses?
No names, no portraits and no nonsense. The name of this game is total clarity. To be honest, as a tank or DPSer, I probably would have just thrown out the numbers on my raid frames altogether. Keep the names of the players -- who needs to know the raid's health, especially as a non-healer? Yes, yes, I am absolutely sure that there is one glaring example where it would be beneficial for a DPS or tank to have this information available, but for a good amount of the time, I am confident in saying that an approximation of health and mana is good enough for most setups outside of a healer-specific UI.
Seriously, look at the raid frames! Look at the unit frames! I'm completely spazzing out here, I know. It just hits every right button on my wacky "what I love about user interfaces" control panel. Information wishes that it could be shared as easily and succinctly as it is here in Skippah's unit and raid frames. Bravo.
Let's talk about the chat pane for a few. Prat is one of the best addons out there, and I can't express in words the love I feel for a good chat addon. Prat performs admirably, but one of the issues I have always had with chat windows are configurations that set full opacity. Maybe it's me. Some colors against certain backdrops just blend in too much and chat information is missed. This was especially problematic in Naxxramas and most of Northrend, as the snowy white and blue made some colors just too hard to see. A nice, light opacity or transparency change can easily remedy the problem.
Opacity and transparency, however, would kill the UI's motif. Otherwise, to keep everyone consistent, Skippah would more than likely add some opacity to the other addons at the bottom dock. Maybe this would make everything a little simpler; maybe not. As long as the changing terrain behind the chat box does not render chat incomprehensible, then it looks great.
Today's lesson: redundancy
The biggest lesson to take away from Skippah's user interface, and maybe even a tip to Skippah, is that redundant addons in function and substance might not be the best way to go. I know it's sometimes hard to put away those buffs and debuffs on the target frame, because you're so used to it. But if you're tracking those debuffs with Power Auras, etc., then why be redundant? Plenty of UI real estate space can be saved cutting down redundancy.
Here's where I tell Skippah to cut down on the one redundant piece that makes my eye twitch. You have a threat meter, so lose the "I have aggro" Power Aura. You'll be much happier that you never have to stare at that shield graphic again.
All in all, a clean, crisp and awesome showing by Skippah. Awesome job. For the comments, let's do something a little bit different. In the spirit of minimalism, pretend you could only have three addons running. What would those addons be? Addon compilations don't count, just like the genie cannot grant you more wishes. Three addons only. What've you got? See you next week!
Interested in getting the most out of your user interface? Come back once a week for more examples of reader UIs. For more details on individual addons, check out Addon Spotlight, your source for everything addon-related.