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Reader UI of the Week: Mostly minimal


This week's UI comes from Buzzardbait of Winterhoof, US. He's been keeping an eye on us at Reader UI of the Week, and felt like he should send his version of a good-looking UI over. As you'll see from his email, Buzzardbait is a fan of minimalism, and doesn't like to see a cluttered UI on his screen. Each to their own, I, personally, agree with Buzzardbait to an extent -- as you might recall from my own UI, I like to keep things clean, but I also like to have everything on show that I feel I need.

It's a fine balance between minimalism and utility, and Buzzardbait uses some clever ideas to lean heavily towards the minimal end of the scale. He makes great use of some macros, as we can see from reading his email. He also sent me a link to a full album of his UI screenshots, which you can see here. I've also grabbed a few relevant ones for you, in case the gallery doesn't work, so here's a solo screenshot, here's a 5-man screenshot, and here's the one in the header.

Hit the break for Buzzardbait's email.

I'm a long-time fan, and also a long-time hater of cluttered UIs.

I'm more of the minimalist and clean UI type. I prefer that if I don't need something that I shouldn't see it. I have a ton of transparencies and addons to remove or relocate things that get in the way of unrelated tasks, etc.
I'm also a professional programmer, at least that's what it says on my fancy business cards that I never use :P

There are button bars on the left and the right of the main bar that are invisible until you mouse-over them. You can vaguely see them in some pics. Every button slot, from button 1-8 at least, is a macro that includes a minimum of 3 spells all accessible with modifier keys. This is mainly for use with my Razer Nostromo or it's now dead predecessor the Belkin n52te. My Druid, which has been my new main for a while, includes a single button macro that can turn me to bear form, cat form, swift flight form, sad manatee, ground mount, travel form and a flying mount (for extra pizzaz when traveling long distances). It checks to see if you're in water, in combat or if the zone is flyable or not in order to auto-select certain forms.

I'm not sure that I like the Pitbull unit frames. I just recently added them for the animated avatar effect. I was using X-Perl before for a cleaner look, but was just wanting to splash the UI with something different.

I'm also trying out the mini-map at the bottom-right corner using SexyMap. Still trying to decide if I like it or not. If I keep it I need to use another addon to re-locate the tooltips to another spot... Hey! How about the top-right! Rather ridiculous to be honest. I think I'll be moving it back. I also use TidyPlates but I haven't bothered checking for a newer version since the 5.1 patch hit today, so the enemy frames don't look as streamlined / clean as they should.

I've wanted to send in screen-shots for a long time now, as every time I see someone's UI with stuff all over the place it drives me absolutely nuts. You know the saying though, one man's garbage is another man's treasure.

- Buzzardbait (Winterhoof)

Full Addon list:
Addon Manager (outdated)
Tidy Plates

Notable Points

Despite being the addon girl, and having heard of it before, I didn't realize that Mapster created that map, the one without the border and the unnecessary squared off area that blocks out bits of your screen that you don't need to keep blocked out. I love it! I can see it having some minor issues when you're moving from zone to zone, but I'm assuming that there is a simple way to toggle it from the minimal overlay back to the normal view.

In other notable points, I do see from Buzzardbait's email that his UI is clearly a work in progress, and that there are a few elements that he's still moving around. He sent me this email a little while back, so it's possible that his UI has undergone several changes since the iteration he sent over. I think UIs are almost always a work in progress, UI modification is very addictive, the guy who got me into it will often spend a few hours tucked away in a secluded area trying to alter a few pixels here and there! We must, therefore, be a little forgiving in our assessment of his minimal elements.

Good things

I definitely like the hidden buttons, from recent submissions that we've covered readers may have gleaned that having empty or superfluous action buttons on show is a pet peeve of mine, so I'm pleased to note that Buzzardbait isn't falling into this trap. He's actually gone a long old way in the opposite direction, taking great pains to keep his action buttons as minimal as possible. And as part of that, he's made good use of some macros, allowing him to keep the buttons on display as light as he can. As noted in his email, all the visible buttons on the solo shot have macros on them, containing three spells accessed via modifier macros. Any reader of my PvP columns will know that I'm a real fan of modifier macros!

Oh, and did I mention I'm a huge fan of that map? It's such a good look! Other than that, I definitely like the overall feel of this UI, especially solo, it's really good to see one that has not got things hanging out all over the screen. It really, apart from anything else, allows a clear view of the world, which, in a game as pretty as WoW, is definitely a good thing.

Not-so-good things

I have to say, I'm not loving the Pitbull unit frames. Buzzardbait mentions these in his email, and like he says, I'm not sure about them. They seem too busy and too cluttered for the rest of his UI, not to mention far too large in the 5-man shot. Buzzardbait doesn't mention whether he does much raiding, but they would be extremely intrusive in 10-man. Pitbull does allow for considerable customization of the unitframes, so perhaps Buzzardbait has now developed a superior solution to these frames.

I'm also slightly surprised by the look of healbot. I was a little critical of another healbot last week, saying that I didn't think the user had had a chance to look at it, and perhaps the same is true of Buzzardbait's healbot this week. Healbot is very customizable indeed, although perhaps less so than grid or vuhdo, and definitely doesn't have to look like its default layout forever. Do have a dig around in the "bars" section of the menu, where you can change the whole look of the addon. But perhaps Buzzardbait likes the default look, while I immediately switch it to class colors and my preferred bar texture. Everyone's different!

Reader UI of the Week Mostly minimalAnd the weekly "NOOOO" goes to the lack of icons attributed to the macros on the standard visible action bar. It's all well and good only having 8 buttons visible, laudable in fact, but do make sure they're pretty! I have been known to waste a good ten minutes finding the perfect icon for my macros, especially ones that do different spells based on conditions, so seeing that ugly old question mark so many times hurts my soul! However, in one of the screenshots Buzzardbait sent over, the icons are changed, so maybe he's pre-empted my sadness about the icons!

What are your thoughts on the UI? And if you want to send your own in, do send an email over to, let me know what addons you're using, what you like, what you don't like, and what you're working on!

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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