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Reader UI of the Week: Get personal with Absinth's redesign for raiding


Each week, WoW Insider and Mathew McCurley bring 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, and follow Mathew on Twitter.

The raiding game comes upon us faster than ever these days, as the leveling portion of the game shrinks just as much as it expands with each subsequent expansion. While raiding should be a focus for design teams, because you need constant current end game content, the path to raiding is still a long and arduous one. And when the mighty finally ascend the stairs of destiny and plant their flag at the top of the world, then you realize your interface just isn't going to cut it anymore.

"But it's been fine like this for 85 levels!" you exclaim. Yes, yes, I agree. It's a weird phenomenon in video gaming, where as you progress through a journey learning skills, gaining allies, and collecting equipment, the fundamentals of your play experience radically shift. It's less of a problem these days with the Dungeon Journal, random Raid Finder and Dungeon Finder tools, and a general understanding of what raiding is among the video gaming populace.

When Absinth sent in a UI for Reader UI of the Week back in October, I praised the simple layout and said that with a few tweaks to the non-static UI elements, the setup would have been fine for raiding. As it turns out, upon reaching the raid game, Absinth's UI did not hold up as intended. A shame, considering how much I loved the original UI. Never fear, though, because Absinth's raiding UI is very much a work of personal touch, personal accommodation, and personal experience.

Here's Absinth's take on the whole thing:

Hello again,

It's Absinth here from Black Dragonflight. I sent in a simplistic healing UI a couple months back. As you'll see, my UI has really evolved since October. That UI was definitely simplistic, but when I reached raid content, it was not viable. Over the past few months, I've been playing around with my UI and have finally reached something I like and works well in raid content. My guild is 8/8 in Dragon Soul and we're there solely because of this UI. (not really)

If you're familiar with healing UI's, you'll probably recognize the layout of this from Aliena's UI. The layout is from that original pack available on Wow Interface. I adjusted a lot of the setup to my liking as it seemed to cluttered in spots.

Let's go through the list...

KG Panels- these are what envelop my chat frame, action bar, frames, buffs, food, dps, hps, etc. I have played around with this part a lot to make sure that it didn't take up too much of my screen

Vuhdo- like before, I still use vuhdo. it's amazing. very easy to set up all your click to heal spells. I bought a special mouse with two extra buttons and vuhdo easily accommodates that.

Masque- or ButtonFacade if you still refer to it as that. makes my buttons look slick. sadly, my minimap buttons lost its effect in the patch this week

Prat + Chatter- two chat frame addons. they make it easy to customize. simple as that

Skada + Recount- I prefer to link stats from Recount as most people use that to keep track of DPS and HPS but it can only have one window so I have skada for DPS. to each his own

fbng BuffFrame- still using this. I just like the look of it better than other buff frame addons

Dominos- my action bars themselves are set up by this addon

SexyMap- my map is definitely not "sexy" but this addon allows you to really simplify the map and look a lot nicer than the default blizzard one

MoveAnything- there are a few things on my screen that I have moved around with this addon. most you can't see unless I open certain frames up. this addon is AMAZING and allows you to move about 95% of frames and items on the WoW screen

ForteXorcist- a great way to keep track of cooldowns. I prefer to keep it out of the way and below my health and mana

StufUnitFrames- this was completely stolen from Aliena's UI and I take no credit for it. it just looks amazing and functions beautifully. provides some great boss frames for you and is a lot easier to customize that PitBull or Xperl (although it was 90% ready by the time I got it)

Minimap Button Frame- that's how I have my minimap buttons aligned above my dps/hps meters. a lot easier to access them this way

PowerAurasClassic- those Penance, PoM, and Inner Focus signs next to vuhdo are all from this. it makes it really easy to know when my CDs are up. Rapture appears there with a timer when it goes off

IceHUD- not that useful. just in case my eyes aren't at the bottom of the screen, I'll still be able to see where my health and mana are at

Some other useful addons I have are:

eAlign- I actually took your advice from the first posting and got this addon. it's great and really helped organize my screen perfectly.

Ingela's Rapture- works well with PAC to keep track of Rapture

MikScrollingBattleText- easily customizable. can take up your whole screen or just a small portion. I chose above two inches of space on both the left and right side of my character

Quartz- best cast bar addon in existence

I saw someone comment in the last one if I could post this UI somewhere for people to download. If anyone wants it, just post in the comments and I'll upload it to WoW Interface. Be warned though. I have a Macbook so it's a funky resolution.

Keep up the great reviews,
Getting personal

Thank you very much for the second submission and email, Absinth. It is a personal experience, looking at someone's user interface, considering all of the variables at play and how many points of difference could potentially exist between this UI and yours. Deep, right? Not really. Still, this is a personal thing.

Every piece of your UI is in its place because you want it to be there. Since everything is movable, that opens up an impossible number of combinations of design. Some designs are better and more popular, sure, but everything is in its place because you put it there.

What struck me about Absinth's redesigned UI was that it had to become a lot more cluttered to accommodate raiding. While the amount of clutter wasn't the craziest amount of clutter I have ever seen, it is still there, a stark difference that I try very hard to deny exists.

Personal preference

At first I thought I was going to hate the graphics included in the kgPanel frames. Was it the color? Too pink? Was it the texture work? As I started to ask myself these questions, it became apparent that I could not pin down which aspect of the kgPanels annoyed me, so the only conclusion was I didn't hate them enough to not like them. So, honestly, I don't mind. In fact, I like contrast because contrast is king, especially when there are so many colors on screen.

I like the bottom right panel area, consisting of small meters and wrap-around buttons, as well as the discreet bag buttons. There is just so much information jam-packed into that corner that I can't help but love.

As most healing user interfaces go, the screen is dominated by a Vuhdo raid healing interface, which will pretty much be where you are living as a healer anyway. I can just feel places in on the UI where Absinth might have felt the need for a button or two just because the eyes glance at those areas instinctively.

Personal accommodation

I've said before that one of the best ways to give yourself an idea of what's out there in terms of user interface configuration is to grab some prefab UI compilations and add to them or rearrange the way addons are set up. You can start with someone else's design and tinker with it to create your own, lived-in environment. Coincidentally, that's exactly what Absinth did.

Pieces of the UI were uplifted out of the original compilation and then pillows were rearranged, addons moved, and other pieces added on to create a personal experience. This is fine. Do this. The only caveat is that you don't get to say that you made it yourself. No one will hate you for talking about where inspiration came from, as Absinth did here. Go out, find what you like, and cobble something together that works.

Genuine and lived in

I like that Absinth's new UI feels genuine and lived-in versus something that feels sterile and prefab. When I look at the button placement and the meters, I already know what the focus of the UI is. Little clues lead me to conclusions about where information is displayed, like the Shadowfiend stuff. It's all just very interesting to me.

I'd see about getting the middle to move down a bunch. Sure, big Vuhdo frames are nice,especially as a healer, but do you think it needs to sit directly atop that kgPanel with nothing beneath it? Unless some targeting frames or other invisible addon goes there, why not cut a hole in the middle of that kgPanel and slide the Vuhdo interface down in between the player and target frame areas?

Other than that, I'm a fan. Nice work graduating from dungeons to raiding, Absinth, and I'm sure you'll have plenty of raiding luck in the future. See, guys and gals? Getting into the raid game isn't too bad and definitely not too difficult when your UI is in tip-top shape for the fights ahead.

See you guys next week.

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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