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Reader UI of the Week: The UI doctor is in


I spoke about this a while back with you all, the idea that someone had in the comments of doing a sort of UI surgery, where players would send in their UI for merciless revamping. I've compared this column to one of those home improvement shows before, you know, the ones where they come along and mess with all your stuff, and give you a house nothing like the one you had before, but one that you hopefully like better. And I think it's a good analogy, so I'm going to use it again. Your UI is kind of like your WoW house, at least until the inevitable happens with Sunsong Ranch. If anything it's more important than your house, because, unless you work from home like me, you don't conduct your entire life through the medium of your house.

Anyhow, that aside, there are a few submissions that I want to get started with. And I definitely want your feedback on these too, there are various issues here that will benefit from several opinions, and mine holds no more inherent weight than anyone else's! If you're suggesting addons, brownie points will be awarded for links. And brownie points, in US parlance, lead to brownies.

Lithuvien writes:
I read the line about the UI surgery and wanted to send a snapshot of my UI in hopes that I can make it better.

I use ElvUI with forteXorcist for tracking DoTs. As you can see, my screen is filled up with bars and stuff, making it hard to see stuff like Imperial Vizier's rings and stuff. Worst part is that when there are a lot of DBM calls about to be announced, they overlap with my DoT tracking bars making it hard to figure out if my DoTs are about to expire. I cannot make things too small as I suffer from low vision (6 / 9). I game on a laptop (17" screen).

Any help with my UI would be greatly appreciated.

Here's a full-size screenshot of Lithuvien's UI while he's in combat.

I can definitely see that there's a problem here, and various solutions that I would usually propose are out of the question thanks to Lithuvien's low vision. It's a challenge! I'm going to break this down into a couple of issues here, firstly the DBM one, because as far as I can tell it's the easiest to solve.

DBM bars, like most other UI elements, are moveable. Head into DBM's options, by typing /dbm into chat, then go to the Options tab at the top left, then select Bar Style. This will bring up the screen below, which has a button titled Move Me on the right-hand side. Because I missed it so many times while looking for it myself I've highlighted it in white!
Reader UI of the Week The Doctor is in
This will bring up two DBM bars called "Drag Me!", and as the name suggests, you can drag them around your screen as you see fit. The ones that first appear to the right are the non-urgent ones, abilities which aren't coming for a while, and the ones in the middle are the abilities or warnings that are coming up soon. You can do the same in Special Warnings, the option below Bar Style on the left, for the big angry text that DBM shows in the middle of the screen, but on that set of options it's called "Set Position".

Buff Watching

Reader UI of the Week The Doctor is inHopefully that's DBM sorted, but in tandem with shuffling DBM around we need to generate some more on-screen space for Lithuvien. My main observation is that there are way too many bars on the screen, and much as I can sympathize with the belt and bracers approach, some of them can probably go. I'm starting with ElvUI. I'm hoping I'm correct in thinking that the bars appearing above the unit frames for player and target are ElvUI's aura bars, a recent addition that I'm a big fan of. The player ones are displayed to the right, so that you can see what I'm on about.

These are definitely useful, but could stand some trimming. Within ElvUI, and trust me, it's not that easy to find, is a setting to Block Blacklisted Auras. It lives in Unit Frames, Player (or target or focus etc), Aura Bars. Aura Bars is in the drop-down menu to the right, if you're struggling to locate it.

There's a check-box there, check it! Then you need to head back to the menu and go all the way down to Filters. It's just above Profiles. Select "Blacklist" from the drop-down menu on the right, then you can add a spell. I have Well Fed on the blacklist, as well as flasks. I don't feel I need to see those all the time! And be honest, are you watching for Lightweave procs? Do you really need Surge of Darkness there given that there's an on-screen warning for that? A lot of those can go. Or, of course, you can turn off Aura Bars on the player frame altogether by simply unchecking "Enable" in the aforementioned Aura Bars area of the config menu.

DoT Watch

Because I don't think Lithuvien really needs them on his target frames either, to be honest. If we're being picky here, I see four different ways the debuffs on Lithuvien's target are displayed on his screen. And I think that's probably more than he really needs.
Reader UI of the Week The Doctor is in
I may be incorrect, but it seems likely from his complaint about DBM's timers overlaying his DoT timers that the main ones Lithuvien uses are the large ones in the middle. The ones on the target nameplate, number four, aren't really that obtrusive, just hanging out over the target like that, but the ones on the target unitframe are, that's numbers two and three. Part of the problem is that ElvUI anchors them off the debuff icons, so if we take a closer look at Lithuvien's target unitframe, there's not only the aura bars showing debuffs, but also icons below them. And those icons aren't anchored directly to the frame either!

Reader UI of the Week The UI doctor is inThis takes up a lot of space, particularly for something that is also shown a few centimeters away. Far more so than the player frame Aura Bars, which are actually potentially showing something useful, these are a flat out waste of space, in my opinion. Switch them off, and while we're at it, let's ditch the icons too. They're also showing exactly the same information as that big set of bars in the middle. If you're not sure how to switch them off, hit up the ElvUI config menu, go to Unitframes, Target, then there's the drop-down menu to the right. Uncheck "Enable" on both Aura Bars and Debuffs. They should disappear!

While these few changes alone won't completely fix your UI, there are other things we can do, too. Saying that, though, they will make a pretty reasonable difference to the amount of busy, distracting, colorful, moving elements, which will contribute to making the UI seem cleaner. I would move the player frame down to the target frame's level, and tighten up the spacing of the castbar, debuff bars and the action bars. If you're that way inclined, ForteXorcist can also be configured not to show certain debuffs, and the backgroud color can be changed to show a higher contrast bar that might be good for someone with less than perfect vision. Perhaps, then, the bar size could be decreased a little.

Sexier Cooldowns

Another potential option, if you're able to monitor your cooldowns by icon, would be something like SexyCooldown2. I say "something like" in the hope that someone might know another addon that offers a bar like this:
Reader UI of the Week The UI doctor is in
I used to use this addon to monitor lock and shadow priest debuffs, back in Cataclysm, but it's not working well enough for me to recommend it, although the screenshot is from today. It's a really nice way to compact your DoT timers into one neat bar, I find. But, of course, it won't be for everyone.

Apart from that, consider whether all your UI elements need to be as big as they are. One of the great things about ElvUI is that you can resize all the elements individually, so the chat panes, the minimap, all that type of thing. Maybe have a play with those, and see what can shrink and what can't. I hope this has been at least a little helpful, and welcome all your comments! If you want to send in your UI, drop me a line 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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