Reader UI of the Week makes patch day fun! Unless it's one of those rolling restart types of patch day -- then you're just spamming your refresh key and running around in circles. Either way, I do hope you'll join us for a little user interface discussion.
This week, I wanted to showcase Uth's UI, a non-assuming, simple affair that aims to be versatile as well as easy on the eyes. Much like last week, we have a player who alternates between two roles -- healing and DPS. The need for versatility forces many players to fashion their UIs into a catch-all configuration that easily morphs into the specified role at any given time. I like user interfaces that have a bit of bend.
What have you got for us, Uth?
Hi! I have been reading the UI of the week column for a while, and since I just redid my UI for Cata, I thought I would try and share it. I started with what was essentially a blank slate, a need for simplicity and clean lines, and a desire for a functional and fairly minimalistic UI. I play a resto/boomkin druid as well as a ret/holy pally, so versatility is also very important. I need to be able to switch specs and have my UI be usable for healing as well as DPSing. Also, I raid mostly 10-mans, but setup works fairly well for 25-mans, although the raid frames are a little large. Without further ado, I present Uth's UI!
Now, for the list of addons!
- KgPanels Used to skin everything with the simple black background and add the class colored borders to the panels.
- Pitbull Unit frames.I absolutely love how customizable it is (I cursed all it's settings for the initial config).
- Bartender w/ ButtonFacade The action bars. I added a Caith skin as well as a 25% gloss to add a nice sheen to the buttons.
- Fortexorcist The cooldown bar at the bottom as well the timers to the left of unit frames.
- Nbuff/Nmap Used for (duh) the buffs and the minimap. I used Satrina Buff Frames, but this allowed for the buffs to be right-clicked off again. I ripped this config shamelessly from CaithUI.
- TidyPlates Used for the nice health bars you see above the dummies. I love its simplicity and elegance as well as it's ability to be customized.
- Omen/Recount The box you see at the bottom right shows Omen while in combat and Recount while out of it. It's a little larger than I actually need, but it balances the chat frame nicely.
- VuhDo Used for the raid frames. They look better when in a party, and I normally have them hidden while solo, but just to give a look at what the frames are like, I enabled it for this. I used Grid before it broke for a time after 4.0.1, switched to VuhDo and never looked back. It is incredibly easy to setup (I achieved what I spent hours working on my Grid for in under 10 minutes), and is very flexible for dpsing/healing. This is my healing setup; when they are in DPS mode, they are slimmed down quite a bit. Another nice thing is that it has Clique functionality built in.
- Decursive This is what goes in the empty space between the player frames and the Omen panel. The Micro unit frames (what you click on to dispell) fit nicely in the void and are easily accessible and visible. I prefer using it to VuhDo's built in decursing functions as it frees up some keybinds as well as the space on my VuhDo itself.
Well, that's my UI. I'm still working out some kinks, as well as some design issues. I'm a little concerned about how the theme when I'm on my druid looks very ... Halloweeny. I am also considering making it entirely one panel instead of the separate panels, though I do like it how it is now. Also, at the moment my Vuhdo sticks out from the rest of the UI, and while I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing, it can look fairly awkward at times. Also, I'm not sure I can do anything about that as I need the raid frames near the center of the screen so I have at least some semblance of raid awareness as I stare down the health bars. Also, I was considering adding artwork that's a little more custom, but I'm not sure if I have the time or the skills. Anyway, let me know what you think, and should any maniac want to download this thing, I can provide a link.
Thanks for the submission and email, Uth. There are plenty of things to love about simplicity, and if things are working for you as they are, you might not even need to change much between characters' interfaces.
The importance of priority
We prioritize everything in our lives, from the work we have to do to the way we spend our time. User interface prioritization is important because in a game such as WoW, the information you prioritize can make or break your gaming experience. I know that I talk a lot about fitting the user interface to the role, but only because it's the most important aspect of the whole ordeal.
Uth has prioritized three main elements of his UI that overlap between specs, allowing him to keep most of his UI the same between specs. First, the setup of the action bars allow for a one-config approach. The one bar does not change, so abilities and their locations stay static. Combined with the Clique nature of Vuhdo, not many spells, I'm assuming, have to be keybound. This allows for two separate motor skillsets for healing and DPS, which rarely overlap. Keeping those two things separate but using the same overlay helps in the one-config setup.
Secondly, the general layout of the UI is set up in such a way that the healing interface sits on top of the other UI elements. There are no big carve-outs in the UI for a Vuhdo window that would otherwise look awkward or out of place when the healing elements weren't there. Rather, the Vuhdo window sits on top of the unit and player frames, allowing for easy access and even mobility if the middle of the screen becomes a pain down the line.
Third, an addon like TidyPlates is one of my favorite multitasking addons, mainly because the module system based on spec is just so damn slick. Threat Plates works for when you're a DPS, giving you visible threat warnings and threat amounts without having to dart your eyes at Omen; for healing, the plates stay small and out of the way, depending on your configuration. As a tank and DPSer, I love that the TidyPlates modules swap for me in different specs, and one addon behaves in two completely different ways without me having to worry at all.
Black backgrounds are my background of choice for most UI elements. I like stark contrasts against the ever-changing and colorful world that you will be laying this interface on top of. Even back in the Ultima Online days, I cherished that black screen space for bags, unit frames, and other UI elements that just never looked right on top of the world. "Why don't you use a viewport addon to shrink the screen size?" you ask. I am just not a fan of shrinking the screen's resolution, because I can always just zoom out a little bit more. I like my large resolution, and chipping some of that away has never sat right with me.
The simple black kgPanels that Uth uses do the job well and set his UI elements apart from not only the world but one another. This is important. As I illustrated in my own UI back a few weeks ago, I used a light grey line to delineate where addons began and ended.
Uth had two issues that stood out to me, so let's tackle those. First, Vuhdo does stick out from the main UI, but I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. Vuhdo is your lifeblood as a healer, so having it take prominence on your screen isn't the worst thing that could happen. Frankly, I'd say leave the Vuhdo frames above the rest of the UI.
Second, should you change from multiple floating black backgrounds to a solid black bar at the bottom of the screen? Yes, with the caveat that you make the UI shorter before going with the single-bar approach. You want to set a specific height for your UI elements with the bar, and as things are set up now, you would have to find a way to deal with a shorter chat frame and Omen display. I like the size of it all right now, however, but would caution against making too "high" of a bottom black bar setup.
Overall, I think you have a great multipurpose user interface going on here, Uth. Tweaks can be made, sure, but you're ahead of the game having your purposes laid out and a solid general layout. Now, just tweak until you get everything the height and size you are comfortable with, and move on from there.
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, or visit Addons 101 for help getting started.