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Reader UI of the Week: Akirah's UI


Each week, WoW Insider brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which spotlights the latest user interface addons. Have a screenshot of your own UI that you'd like to submit? Send your screenshots, along with info on what mods you're using, to

Hello, friends. As I was creating the little folder for this reader UI in my big WoW Insider folder dealie, I noticed that this column is my 49th Reader UI of the Week. That makes next week my 50th Reader UI of the Week column. I've been doing this for 50 weeks. Let me try to swallow that. Anything I should do special for # 50?

This week is going to be fun! Akirah, a night elf mage, is going to show us a nice, neat UI and potentially get a lesson in conservation with action bars. Action bars are one of those user interface elements that have crazy amounts of customization and the same amount of approaches and viewpoints. Join me, won't you?

Take it away, Akirah:

Dear Mathew,

My name is Akirah and I'm a night elf mage on the EU Server Darksorrow and also a proud member of the guild Final Evolution! I have only recently started messing with UIs, so I'm not really an "expert" with them. On my old UI, I have tried to make it as simple as possible with only a few important things showing. I too have decided to come up with a 100% recustomized UI for
Cataclysm. I have started the process by drawing it out on paper and planning it in a quick sketch. The plan was to make the UI show important information for raiding but also not to block my vision, so I came up with the gap in the middle style UI and I find it very useful because it may look like half my screen is blocked off, but when you actually play and you eyes are on your character, it feels like there is nothing blocked off. It is easy to see and locate clear information and I would say it is also a suitable UI for PvP. For future improvements, I think I will try and make the whole UI smaller and more compact. When I'm playing, I usually don't look at my spell bar unless I'm looking at trinket or long spell cooldowns. All in all, I think it's a great UI and perfect for raiding, everyday use.

The addons used to create this UI are :
  • Baugbag a much clearer way to see bags and also to see all bags in 1 large window
  • Bartender4 to move the spellbar, and other customization to the spellbar
  • ButtonFacade customize the look of the Spell Buttons
  • CrapAway when talking to a vendor, it will automatically sell all of my grey items
  • CombustionHelper very handy addon for fire mages, has a cooldown window showing the cd on living bomb , ignite , frostfirebolt / stack; helps to increase DPS
  • Grid a customizable raid frame.
  • KgPanels to create the background images to make the whole UI look neat
  • PitBull4 unit frames for character and enemy
  • Prat the customizable chat window
  • Recount damage meter
  • TidyPlates customizable target / enemy name plate
I have included three pictures in this email: one showing my old UI on my old mage Spaceworm, who was arcane in Wrath; another picture showing my current UI after my race change on Akirah; and a third picture where I have labelled the second picture with each addon name.

Thank you for reading!


Thanks for the email and submission, Akirah! Let's hit the ground running, extrapolate the finer points of Akirah's UI, and maybe even give some advice on trimming things down even more.

The original UI

When I saw Akirah's original UI, I liked the slimness and the minimalism, but I knew that there wasn't enough present to give anyone a really comprehensive experience playing WoW -- well, not for me, anyway. I like more information and having more tools and elements at my disposal. The minimalism is fine, but four lines of chat would kill my minimalist tendencies in a flash. I just can't do it.

So after seeing the screenshots and the addon list for Akirah's new offering, I understood where and why the changes needed to take place. First, you'll see a comprehensive action bar array, sporting everything from the raiding abilities to the mage utility spells and more. I think I even see Guild Page and basic campfire in there.

Words about action bars

Action bars have always been a double-edged sword for me, mostly because it is so easy to get caught up in putting things on action bars for ready use. The problem comes from the notion that many of these abilities might not get the amount of use you think. Consider the Guild Page (if that's what I'm even seeing, and not some macro using the guild page icon -- if that's the case, ignore me.) The Guild Page is a reward from the guild achievement Horde Slayer / Alliance Slayer and has an 8-hour cooldown that allows you to purchase guild rewards on the go. You will only be using this item every 8 hours, probably not on cooldown each and every 8 hours. So then, why does something like the Guild Page deserve a coveted action bar slot?

I guess all of this is predicated on holding action bars in the same reverance that I do, at least as sacred spaces that are only for those abilities you're going to need to use. Something like OPie or smaller utility bars are what I would prescribe, but then we have the added double-edged sword of the symmetry involved.


Akirah's UI is symmetrical, and I like that. The "hole" in the middle of the user interface is there for a very specific purpose -- so the viewer can see what's going on right under the character. And as we already know, Cataclysm has a lot of "don't stand in the crap" mechanics going for it. So while this is a good, forward-looking design, it negates the fact that the camera can be pulled out a bit father on a shorter UI and achieve a similar effect.

Akirah is right, though. Most of the time, when I'm playing and in the zone, so to speak, the UI disappears and my focus remains on the game world. Opening that space up will accelerate that process. In the future, Akirah hopes to trim things down a bit, and the first place I would start is on the action bars and their height. Grid is a good thing to have, but as a DPSer, I don't even think it needs to be as large as it is. Even if, as a mage, Akirah were in charge of dispelling some type of debuff from an encounter, Grid can be set up in a myriad of ways that show that debuff prominantly on a smaller Grid setup.

Wrappin' up

I like Akirah's UI, and I think that with a little work and a little deep thought on what the action bars really need to hold, that this will be an amazing setup in the near future. Take what you have learned from the original UI (which almost feels too sparse) and combine it with the knowledge you have illustrated in the second version. You're on your way to your perfect interface, but you've already got something good going. Keep it up!

Gallery: Reader UI of the Week gallery | 267 Photos

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.

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