Posted by: thakarron | February 11, 2010

My Secret Love Affair with UI’s

Sadly, a big chunk of my in-game time is spent rearranging my UI, playing with the latest addon I’ve installed, or bitching about how this one tiny module won’t do exactly what I want it to do on my screen. To me tweaking my user interface or getting a new addon configured properly is equally as fun as toying with a new spec/rotation/piece of gear on a target dummy. A good UI can be as essential as the latest piece of tier or hottest rotation, sometimes even more so in my opinion. I’ll begin with a few shots of my UI and then explain the thought process I go through when designing it.

Everybody looooves to show off their hot new UI with crazy textures or panels or a ton of awesome doodads all over the screen. Unfortunately, my UI isn’t covered in gorgeous panes or home-made graphics, but it is very efficient and gets the job done in my opinion.

Click to Biggify

Chill-in-Dalaran mode

Click to Biggify

Warp-Digivolved-Raid mode (10-man is the same just with less people on Grid)

So after many redesigns this is what I’ve ended up with. Its not too flashy but it covers what I need to do as well as a few wonderful little extras in there. I’ve thought out a brief process to go through when it comes to designing (or redesigning) your UI.

1. Centralize! – I can’t stress this enough, avoid having any essential information in the far corners of the screen (notice I just have buffs, questhelper, and my broker plugins in that area). It may not seem like a big deal, but having to flick your eyes upwards to check on the status of other raid members or something important like that can really fuck up your situational awareness (and not to mention after a long night of raiding your eyes will end up more strained than they need to be). If anything be sure to put your own frame and target frame in the middle (I have the minimap in there too, not to mention the cooldown bar and cast bar) to always have an eye on their status while still being aware of your surroundings. For a healer/tank I would recommend making room to have your raid frames in the center as well, so you can maintain a watchful eye on the well-being of the entire raid while still looking out for number one. As a DPS if you have your raid frames displayed (which I would encourage, even if you can’t do shit about the people dying) try to move them down towards the middle of the screen on the sides, to minimize eye movement as much as possible.

2. Group similar addons! – Keeping addons with like functions together helps to process more information in less time. For example, I keep all my raid-related addons in the middle left area of my screen. All these addons combined display a huge amount of information (boss abilities, dps, threat, overall status), but since they’re all together they can quickly be absorbed and processed. Being able to quickly see things like that is a big help for any raider, and since they’re kept together and out of the way it doesn’t get in the way of the encounter. Addons should help to provide additional information while still having the player retain their situational awareness, not at the cost of it.

3. Find your gamechangers! – Every class and role has a couple addons that are a huge boost to their gameplay. For me, these addons are Power Auras, Forte Xorcist, and Quartz, for someone else they may be different. The point isn’t to have a specific addon, but once you do find “the one” use it to its full potential and capitalize on everything it offers. My Power Auras are always in the center right over my character to I know the instant something procs. Quartz is right below that so I can manage my casts and not clip any Auto Shots if I have to move. The FX cooldown bar is directly above my character frames, and closest to my action bars so I can keep a close eye on ability CDs as well as internal CDs on trinkets to make the most out of my skills. I keep the spell timer part of FX toward the right so I can have an eye on my DOTs without having to look away from the action. In short, once you find an addon you can’t live without hold on to it and try your best to build you’re UI around it. The main goal of an addon is to improve your game (in my case my DPS), not to make your screen look pretty.

Hopefully these simple tips help out, I’ll probably go in depth into my favorite addons or give reviews of a lesser known addon in the future. Also a full list of addons I use can be posted if you guys want it =] I’d love to hear about critiques you can make on my UI or tricks you learned while designing your own UI. Thanks again everyone!



  1. I need to get around to changing my ui up. I only use a handful of addons, and it is still configured similarly to the default ui. I keep wanting to get my unit frames down to the bottom, but it keeps throwing me off and I end up moving them back. Oh well, one of these days…

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