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Reader UI of the Week: Vondak knows presentation is everything


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.

Welcome back to Reader UI of the Week, WoW Insider's showcase of the community's user interfaces. I'm looking for Mists of Pandaria beta UIs. Enough people are in the beta now playing around with monks and their kit, so let's see what people are doing with monk abilities. Whatever it is, I want you to show it off. Let's get a jump on the expansion while we talk about real-world examples from people's beta screenshots.

That's not this week, however. A special treat is lined up for you today. Vondak, a survival hunter from the Nesingwary (US) realm, has decided to let his character speak for themselves about their user interface. In lieu of a reader email and submission this week, we have a reader gallery, as Vondak takes you through the intricate parts of the "high and tight" setup.

I'll let Vondak take the stage.

Gallery: Vondak's Reader UI Submission | 8 Photos

Thank you so much for the submission, Vondak. As someone dealing with less-than-perfect eyesight over my entire life, I appreciate larger addons that take up a bit more space. My eyesight also means that I don't like too much space between addons because my eyes and brain go all crazy when there are too many colors in between statics that are moving. Hey, it's preference!

The two defining tenets of Vondak's user interface are "high" and "tight." The high portion refers to the fact that the addon size and height of the chat and DPS windows is at a larger height than average, taking up more of the screen space. The "tight" portion refers to how closely placed next to each other each addon is, creating either a uniform, rigid, continuous bottom bar or a broken up, free-flowing, addon bottom HUD.


How tall you make your addons is completely up to personal preference. The benefit to a tall bottom row of addons is ease of use, sight, and a great environment for people who like to click some of their action bars and interface with more things on their inteface with the mouse. Having shorter addons saves space and forces a bit of minimalism but leaves less room to move the mouse over specific bits.

I don't really think that Vondak's UI is too high at all. Frankly, I think it's at the right height to do what he wants it to do. Remember, if it's working for you, it's not all that terrible. The utility action bar on the bottom right could even be expanded to fill out some space for uniformity's sake, but that's minor.

The lack of a robust and centralized player and target frame allow the bottom bar to be as tall as it is. With nothing jutting up against it or encroaching from the top portion of the screen, the bottom bar is free to grow uninhibited, like the mighty oak. Only careful pruning can stop the overgrowth.

With all of that being said, I wouldn't go any higher. You're good where you are. There's plenty of space and action bars available for the next new thing should it come, but you're solid until then.


People can fight over this back and forth forever, but I come down squarely in the camp of people who like their UI elements connected in some cohesive way. The ramshackle, spread-out user interfaces just don't always do it for me, mostly because of the distractions that changing textures and colors make during rapid movement in between two addons. I can't explain it better than that. It's even worse when there are two black borders with a certain bit of the game world peeking out from behind, and it drives me nuts.

That's why I like Vondak's setup. With a tight setup, he pulls each addon in close, almost butting them up against each other. There is some space in between, but it's not too noticeable -- definitely not the type of thickness or thinness implied in the previous paragraph. If it were me, I'd be jutting those addons up against each other like nobody's business.

Keeping it tight is good advice regarding interface creation and management. Don't go overboard, because you more likely than not need only the basics to thrive. If those basics get to take up one-fifth of the screen and look solid doing it, then so be it.

Keeping default pieces

I've never seen the default player frames, minimap, and buff readout look so good with a player-made UI. While the bottom half of Vondak's setup is pure change and upgrade, the top remains pure, free of addon essence. With a DPS class, especially a hunter, I would wager that your own health isn't so much of an issue, since you are rarely getting hit, and raid warnings can deal with health issues in a more hectic setting.

Minimaps have served their purposes, and it's time to come up with something new that does the minimap's purpose without that huge thing up there. It can be done, and we can do it. Vondak's highlighting of the default minimap (ironically, by leaving it as the default) has sparked my interest in the minimap topic once more. Mayhaps I will write words upon the subject.

Keep all the default pieces you want. They are less likely to break, and you don't have to update them. Holy moly, those sound like the best addons ever. Why didn't I realize this before? The default UI is good for a reason -- it's WoW and it's Blizzard. Of course the UI is going to be functional. Tens of millions of people have run through this piece, son. Tens of millions.

A functional setup

I like it, Vondak. Your character is looking sharp, and the UI is functional, tight, and just the right height. How are you getting things ready for the new expansion? Are you staying with the same old hunter? How are you adapting your UI for a monk, if you intend to make one?

Good work. I like it. Everyone else does, too. Right, class? You know what to say, or else there is no cinnamon toast. I mean it this time. What do you all think? Sound off in the comments.

Remember -- I want, nay, need, your Mists of Pandaria beta UI experiences, screenshots, writeups, changes, anything! You name it, and we'll talk about it. Got an addon idea cooking that you want people to know about early? There might be a place on it soon on Reader UI of the Week.

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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