Welcome to another exciting edition of Reader UI of the Week. Today's subject is going to divide readers into two camps -- people who can tolerate clutter and people who cannot. Over the years, I've come to gain a tolerance and understanding of clutter because, frankly, I understand the laziness inherent in all of us. There is always a moment just after you reach for the mouse, begin to scroll, and suddenly weigh the time it would take to complete this task against taking another excellent bite of your Little Bacon Burger from Five Guys. I'll tell you right now, I just took a delicious bite of burger.
I do a disservice to people when I attribute clutter to laziness. That's not the case at all. In fact, I find that I work a little better in an environment where I have to actively find something amongst other things. There's a type of juxtaposition or patterning that presents itself; I know where Shockwave is because it's next to the icon for Revenge on my bar, etc. So what does this all have to do with clutter, UIs, and functionality? Enough, I'd say.
Cassilan's UI has a direct and stated purpose -- see the game's screen. See the action, see the adventure, and see the character in full glory. At the same time, a suite of addons is activated to add necessary customization and features not present at default. We can discuss the minimap, which is admittedly a little rough around the edges, but every bump can be smoothed out.
An email appears:
I like to actually see the game. I designed this UI to achieve that goal. I played around with the addons enough to make them "somewhat" clean. The map needs some work though. I really love Shadow Unit Frames. It, in my opinion, is the best out there in terms of clean customization. I have exactly the info that I need at all times.Thank you for the email and submission, Cassilan. Mages are one of the classes that I do not play and have never been able to get very far with, so excuse any mage-related missteps that I may make along the way. Fear not, for we will have the aid of commenters along the way. Also, I'm adding in a sentence right now warning you that I make zero mage missteps along the way. If you find even one, you are surely mistaken.
Cassilan - Boulderfist realm
Addressing the minimap
I am no stalwart defender of the minimap, believing that the whole conceptual design of the thing might be better served by rebuilding the minimap from the ground up. Blizzard could revolutionize minimaps in MMOs and create a more modern element. Cassilan did make note in her email that the minimap might need a little love, so let's see what we can salvage.
The first issue that I have with the minimap is the location. As a personal preference, I don't like UI elements that close to the center of the screen that wildly and rapidly change colors, dimensions, and other little wonky details. While I prefer the minimap in the bottom right corner to save space in the upper right, my time in the Mists of Pandaria beta has convinced me that either is perfectly acceptable, and as it turns out, I kind of like a lot of the original placement of the WoW UI. What do you know? It grew on me a bit.
Buttons are a minimap's worst nightmare. Those dang buttons get slapped on there like minimap buttons are going out of style. I've seen minimaps that rival those hats that crazy people keep their button collections on. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Also, we had one of those when I was a kid, so I'm qualified to call us crazy.
Thankfully, we have ways of dealing with this very problem. For starters, every addon that produces one of these gaudy little buttons can have its gaudy little face turned off. Boom. Gone. Hop into the menus of each and every addon and knock them down one by one until they all lie still in a rotting pile, slouched against the action bars, the stench reaching as far as the outer chat box. These buttons make me sick.
Alternatively, your minimap addon might have a configuration setting for dealing with these very buttons. With Sexymap, the addon I'm currently using, each addon's button configuration can be overridden and changed accordingly. Personally, as a fan of the one-stop shop, that would be my solution of choice for cleaning up those minimap buttons.
There's one more option, and that's Minimap Button Frame. MBF is a great little addon that takes all of those pesky little minimap buttons and puts them into a single, hideable UI window. You'll never need to drag around those little bastards ever again! The little frame that MBF dumps your buttons into is movable and scalable, with sorting options and keybindings. How can you ask for more from such a wonderful addon? Get it now.
Cramped styles are my business. When two pieces of my interface line up just perfectly, I want to take a picture of it and put it on the fridge. That's an accomplishment. You can de-cramp a bit on the bottom, however.
Damage meters are fun, but I promise you that making your DPS addons appear larger on screen won't actually make you do more damage. For a majority of the functions that DPS meters provide, you won't need the large-scale analysis during a fight when the screen needs to be clear. You're looking for relative position and quick numbers during an encounter. Slim down the DPS meters, and you'll quickly find a lot of space to grow.
Other than those two instances of crampiness or minimapness, everything is OK in my book. With some new screen real estate, Cassilan can move some of her targeting bars around so that they don't stick too far up into the action itself. Shadowed Unit Frames is set up simply, which I always applaud, even though there are portraits. Portraits, much like most things these days, are growing on me in my ripe, old age.
Good work, Cassilan. You didn't double up on the Titan/LDB bar, which gets you a solid A in my book. Trim the map, trim the DPS meters, and you're solid.
Also, frost mages are the worst. Signed, a warrior.
Is this your final Reader UI of the Week?
Sort of. There are a few more articles in the can that will pop up at our regularly scheduled time and regularly scheduled place. I, however, could be in all sorts of places. But let me take the time now to say a happy and heartfelt thank-you to all of the dedicated fans and readers who sent in user interfaces. I've written a lot of words about people's creations, hopefully most of them good and coherent, but at the end of the day, I just critique. We all critique. What is special about this critique is your awesome feedback and drive to help out by giving us a glimpse into your world. Thank you all for the privilege.
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.