Happy belated Mother's Day, moms. That's about the best I can do for mothers as the addon/UI columnist, unless someone develops a mom addon. Anyway, another week and another reader's user interface. This week we get to take a look at some simple art, give some castbar recommendations and tips, and talk way too much about minimap placement. Let's get to it, shall we?
Gerzroz' UI comes to us with a little message and some interesting topics to cover. As always, we begin with an email:
I was inspired by Crazyate's recent submission to overhaul my own UI. Ever since I started using addons, I have been constantly changing my UI which has led to some very cluttered layouts. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a screenshot before I started working on my new UI, but I have attached a screenshot of what my UI looked like a little while ago.
Among the addons I am now using are: Auctioneer, Bagnon, Bartender, ButtonFacade, DBM, Fontain, FuBar, Grid, kgPanels, Postal, Prat, SexyCooldown, SexyMap, Shadowed Unit Frames, and Skada. As always, I am sure my UI could still use a little tweaking, but I am actually quite satisfied with it at present. The one problem I do need to fix is I need to figure out how to move my cast bar so that it doesn't appear on top of my minimap. If anyone has any suggestions of how to fix that, I would really appreciate it.
Khaz Modan US
Thanks for the email, Gerzroz. I am always happy to hear that people are inspired by others' interfaces to work on their own. That is, after all, the purpose of this column. I want people to browse others' user interfaces and maybe see something they haven't thought of before and incorporate those ideas into their own experiences.
Finding a decent texture or piece of art to complement a bottom bar setup is a tough thing to do. Most people, myself included, use a slightly transparent solid color background for their panels. Gerzroz has taken the texture approach, using a wood panel/wood grain texture to offset the bottom from the rest of the user interface. I kind of enjoy the wood texture -- reminds me of an old station wagon.
Lots of words about minimaps
A constant topic discussed in the comments and in emails I receive is the common decision to put the minimap in the bottom-center of the screen. The arguments for and against this practice usually come in two flavors. The first contention is why would someone want to clutter clearly valuable screen space with a user interface element that is, admittedly, not very useful in a raid or group situation. The second big concern is that people cannot make the move to a centered minimap because of the years of having the minimap in the upper-right hand corner of the screen, as most games default their minimap to. Let's tackle each concern separately.
The first contention is a perfectly valid style opinion and, frankly, one I share. For a long time, my minimap was in the center of my user interface for a variety of reasons. Over time, the minimap became less and less important to me and was really only used as a gathering profession tool. However, I think that there is also something to say for user interface symmetry. Symmetry is the biggest reason to keep the minimap in the center of bottom row setups. It is easy to use the minimap, which has no symmetrical counterpart in the UI, as the focal point to design around. Many people also do not like having action bars offset to one side or the other in lieu of the minimap's location. Again, your personal preference will decide where the minimap can and should be.
One piece of advice I can give for minimaps in general, however, is make sure that the minimap addon hides the addon buttons that attach to the minimap. Sexymap fades out the buttons by default, and most minimaps have an option similar.
Cast bar contention
Fixing your castbar is a pretty easy thing to do. All you need is a castbar addon! Back in March, I did an AddOn Spotlight article concerning castbar mods Quartz and Castbars, both of which I heartily recommend, with Castbars edging out slightly due to simplicity. With a castbar mod, you will have no trouble moving and shaping your castbar to fit with any user interface.
Here's a trick with castbars: Most are modular, allowing you to use lots of different types of bars and turn them on or off as necessary. Case in point, your target's spell casts. Most unit frames have this feature built in, so if you already use your unit frames to see what spells an enemy is casting, be sure to disable the castbar addon's functions so they don't overlap. You'll just be wasting screen space and potentially confusing yourself.
So far, I think your user interface is clean, simple and practical, Gerzroz. Make sure to scoot the castbar up a bit and remember to position the other bars in good places as to not detract from the great amount of space you have clear to see the action around you. Also, it wouldn't be a Reader UI of the Week column without me telling you to get rid of your menu bar buttons. So do that. Other than that, things are looking simple and neat.
Here are a couple fun things before I head off for the week. First, thank you all for the Power Auras submissions for the article this week. I got a ton of submissions, and the winners of the raffle will be declared on Thursday and notified by email. You guys overwhelmed me with support for the addon, and I hope that we, as a group, can show people the way on Power Auras.
I really enjoyed the last time I posed a question to the comments after the article, so I think we'll do that again. Plus, you guys give great tips and getting community involvement with user interfaces is the only way the UI community grows. So here's this week's comment topic. If you could incorporate any UI element into the World of Warcraft user interface from any other MMO on the market, which would you choose? You're not allowed to choose "vanity" slots, because that's mine. Step off. See you next week and keep those UI submissions coming!
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.