A good user interface is more than just having a ton of cool looking add-ons. It needs to be functional, it needs to not take up all the screen real estate and it has to be cool to look at as well.
I mean when we change the default UI, we do it because we are looking for functionality we didn’t get in the default UI, but to some extent we want it to look better right?
First a list of the main addons that I use:
- Need to Know – Buff/Debuff bar tracking
- IceHud – Heads up Display
- Xperl – Unitframe replacement
- Prat – Chat enhancement (color coding of char types, timestamps, etc)
- Omen – Threat Monitoring
- Recount – DPS, Healing, etc. meters
- Sexy Map – Minimap replacement
- Bartender4 – Action Bar replacement mod
- ChocolateBar – Status Bar (similar to Titan Panel or Fubar), used Broker plugin addons
- Deadly Boss Mods – Raid Boss Warning tool
- LuckyCharms2 – Raid Icon Marking Tool
- Sunn Art Viewport + Art Packs
As you can see from my basic setup, I have my HUD in the center of my screen. Here I have my Health, in this case my runic power (but for other characters, mana, energy and rage) on the left as well. I also have the pet health on the inner left. On the right hand side I have the target’s health. I have my runes and combo points located under my character.
This allows me to have some of the most critical information in the middle of my screen so that I am always in the know of my character’s health, runes, energy, target’s health, etc. Directly below the HUD I have setup my Need to Know addon with my most critical debuffs on my current target as well as short timed buffs on my character. Short-timer buffs are like Bone Shield and Horn of Winter, both of these are examples of short lived buffs that I can manually restore and are not a result of a proc.
At the top left of my screen I have my proc based buffs on timers. This lets me keep an eye on how all my proc based buffs are stacking up, but these are buffs I can’t control but allow me to make important decisions especially if I have to execute a major move that increases in power if those proc based buffs . To the top right I have my standard buffs and debuffs.
Along the bottom of my screen I use Sunn Art Viewport to block out an area I can assemble my chat, bars, mini-map, omen and recount areas. I use Sunn Art in order to stop the game environment from being seen between my UI and making it appear un-professional and also having the background move behind your add-ons can at times feel disorienting.
I use Sexy Map as my mini-map replacement, mostly for the fact that is looks nice. Xperl is used to replace the default unit frames and I place my character’s unit frame on the left and the target on the right. Both of these can be hidden since I use the HUD, but I include it simply because I like seeing those frames on my screen.
Bartender4 is used to replace the existing WoW bars. I have 2 sets essentially of bars. The bars on the left are mapped to my gamepad, but are essentially keyboard press bars, it only matches to something I use my fingers to press an actual key. These are my most used abilities. On the right are bars with my lesser used abilities, like buffs, mounts, etc. The right bars I use my mouse to click on. This allows me to coordinate and multi-task/press using my keyboard and mouse at the same time.
I have Omen and Recount at the bottom right, while both are important, they are not pieces of information I need to constantly be staring at. It can be argued that Omen you should, which I have also moved it to the top center in the past when I have noticed my threat on dps chars or even threat as a tank becoming an issue. On the bottom left, I use Prat to replace my chat window, allowing me to add timestamps and color code characters based on their class. While not needed, its a nice to have feature that I enjoy. If you are an officer, raid leader, or PuG leader its helpful to have those timestamps if you need to take some pics to prove someone said something about loot rules, etc.
ChocolateBar is my data broker bar similar to fubar or titan panel, its essentially the next generation status bar mod. I have a plethora of data broker plug-ins that show me my total gold, my guild/friends, repair, factions rep, cpu/mem usage, FPS and many more.
When in raid I have Xperl raid frames on the left. What is not shown in the above is when on my healer I use Grid + Clique. Grid is actually positioned just above LuckyCharms2. This is as my point above about my bars on the right hand side uses my mouse to click. Same thing with Grid + Clique I use the right hand side to mirror my hand position out of game for clicking and the left for keyboard presses.
At the very top middle I have my Deadly Boss Mods bars going, they eventually move down to be positioned on top of the HUD so the warnings are in my face the whole fight.
LuckyCharms2 is my raid icon assignment tool. I have it resting right on top of Omen and Recount. This lets me quickly assign icons to targets, perform ready checks as the Raid Leader and also post the kill order (especially if its not standard).
A look closer at my bar mod along with the use of my gamepad (also shown above) reveals I tied my bars on the left to mirror the setup/layout of the keys on my gamepad. This makes it easier on the brain to make a 1 to 1 connection of positioning of the keys to what I see on screen. This made it faster for me to learn my gamepad but also makes the decision from brain to finger press faster because the bars are matched to the gamepad.