I've been reading back over the past years' Reader UI of the Week columns, and trying to work out what it was that people enjoyed. It's a little bit of judgement, a chunk of advice, a little bit of looking at the good and bad sides of UIs and a big bit of discussion. It seems obvious to me that UIs are intensely personal. There's no right or wrong answer to the question "What's a perfect UI?" The question, in my opinion, should be rephrased to "What's your perfect UI?"
Nonetheless, we all like to judge. It's rather like the WoW equivalent of a home improvement show, this column. And on those shows, I always want to see the presenter's house. So that's what we're doing today. The above image is my own UI. This column has been a great motivator to fix up some of the UI elements on my own screen that have been bothering me since the start of Mists, but that I've been too lazy to repair!
You can see my UI in the header image. I'm currently using a pretty standard version of ElvUI, a complete UI replacement. It, along with a skinning addon, reskins pretty much everything on my screen. I don't use ElvUI's action bars, I use Bartender for that, as I find the bars are far more flexible and customizable.
My preferred DPS meter is Skada, simply for the total healing measurement, which displays both healing and overhealing in one easily-read bar. And the auras in the middle are WeakAuras, indicating in the header image that I have 2 stacks of Tidal Waves. I've modified the standard ElvUI floating combat text fonts to match the standard font, just because I really dislike the ElvUI floating combat text!
You may have remembered that I do a good chunk of PvP, and be wondering what on earth my player unit frames are doing way up there. I've never liked the repositioned unit frames in the center, where so many people have them. I'm not sure why, maybe it's a case of old habits die hard, maybe it's me being foolish, but I've always liked to keep the player, target, focus target and so on up there in their usual spot.
Part of the reason for that is the focus target. I almost always have a focus target, in any kind of gameplay apart from solo questing, and sometimes even then. I have a ton of focus macros -- interrupts, cc, damage, you name it -- which don't tend to work so well without a focus target! And with the popular layout of the player and target in the bottom center, the focus frame is necessarily out of place and asymmetric, and that bothers me!
But fear not, my friends, I do have another way to assess things at speed in PvP.
Particularly as I spend a lot of time in PvP healing, I find this the best way to go. As I've mentioned in the past, I heal with a ton of macros, so I don't need to target friends to heal them. My targets are always enemies.
I am a huge fan of the minimal look of this UI. I don't like unnecessary clutter, too much dark space, too much extra stuff floating around the screen. I like the clean text, the symmetry at the bottom, and the lack of extraneous bits and bobs. I like the balance in the header image of the four elements in the four corners of the screen.
I also love how pretty much everything is re-skinned to match the rest of the UI, and I really enjoy the little extra features like datatexts which make opening bags and that type of thing so much tidier. I like the clutter-free minimap, I like the aura bars that show buffs under my unit frame, I like the neat little reputation/xp bar right at the top.
The bars you see on the two screenshots I've provided are all ability bars. That's with all the shaman abilities showing, along with the totem bars, so there are four which could probably go. I'm always tweaking my UI, and one of the things I'd like to do is get fewer action buttons on show to make it more minimal and less cluttered. There's a hidden bar to the left-hand side of the screen, mirroring the right, that has functional spells like guild bank and mass resurrection on it, and it may soon be joined by another hidden bar! One of those two right-hand bars' days are numbered!
There's a slight lack of flexibility with ElvUI. While by far the most flexible of the UI replacements, it still has some elements that I'd like to alter. I want the target glows to be more glowy, and some changes to colors. Everything is class colored (the ones in the pictures are test plates) but there are some tricky overlays that make it all a bit misleading.
I also don't like the borders. I am not a fan of borders, but the latest iteration of ElvUI slimmed them down so much that I gave it a go. I would far rather have completely border-less UI elements, and am digging into the .lua code to find out how to do this.
And that one little button! Bind Elemental, hanging out over there on the right-hand side of the bottom two bars! It either needs something below it or to be moved. It's offending my delicate sensibilities!
But what do you think? Tell me all the good and bad things about my UI! And do send yours in, via email. Let me know what you're using to create your UI, the philosophy behind it, what you're working on, what you love about it, and anything else that springs to mind!
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.