Your User Interface
Your User interface, Its how you interact with and view the game world. Its kind of important. It has to inform you about the game world without obstructing your view of the game world.
This post is essentially going to go over some of the ‘rules’ to making a good UI. Some of the common pitfalls that people tend to fall into, that I’ve fallen into, and probably still fall into.
Repeating information is a bad. Displaying that information takes up space, obstructing your view of the game world. Also its just stupid, do you need to be told something twice?
The biggest offenders here? Having your unit frames on your UI, AND THEN HAVING A HUD ADDON. Your using up extra space, your adding extra clutter, and god only knows what else. If you want that information near the center of your screen, move your unit frames there instead of getting a whole new addon.
Another big one is having both party and raid frames on your screen. 95% of the time your party frames are in the same place as the default party frames, and the raid frames are in the center. They take up space, this could be freed up to allow you to see more of the game world, or perhaps for something slightly less useless.
And lastly a subtle one, if for what ever reason you have a scrolling combat text mod (say as a tank to track incoming damage Vs heals) having that AND the combat text on your unit frame? Silly.
Yes, being able to see your partys buffs is really cool when you first install x-perl, but do you REALLY need to see all that? Is that information going to help you make a decision on what to do? Will you look for that perfect time when all your partys proc their trinkets to hit blood lust?
Do you really need to see every rogues/kittys/hunters/warriors energy/focus/rage in your raid? Is it that important? What does that information give you? A set of quick moving bars that your going to ignore, apart from when they distract your eye for a second and you miss a important visual clue.
Do you really need to see that your pet is casting? Does it have any impact on you that your imp is casting firebolt for the 15th time this raid?
Having recount up while your in combat is also useless. You should already be doing your best, so showing your self how much dps everyone is doing will just distract you, add to the information noise, clutter and everything else. Is recount a valuable tool to quickly figure out why you wiped/what you can do to stop that? Yes. Is it needed in combat? No.
On a side note, I’ve seen arguments for having recount on your screen, mostly based around healing and/or battle resurrecting someone who doesn’t do very much dps. If your going to base your healing around the amount of damage someone does then I guess that being effected by, reacting to, preparing for and anticipating raid mechanics is a death sentence. This explains why pugs fail so badly.
Having to much information can be just as bad as not having enough. When it all starts to blend into background noise your doing it wrong. Prioritize, what do you need to know?
Everything in this post can lead to that information noise, everything on your screen should be relevant, if its not consider, why is it there? Is this the best way to display this information? If you can’t think of a good reason to keep it, get rid of it.
Keep the most important information in the most obvious place, and as big as you need to be able to see it. If your a rogue/hunter/kitty/warrior/paladin that requires you to manage your rage/energy/combo points/HP then put that in the center of your UI, and BIG. You don’t want to miss it.
If your a healer having your raid frames of in the bottom left corner might seem really cool and tidy, but every time you look at them, your eyes won’t be looking anywhere near your characters feet and the fire your bound to be standing in.
The more important and relevant the information is the larger and more obvious it should be, and typically the closer to the center of your screen it should be. This is why power auras works so well, people put large icons IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCREEN SO YOU NOTICE IT.
So you may have your buffs up in the top left corner, and your action bars in some obscure place, and your target debuffs might be with his frame in the top left corner, can you really watch all 3 (or more) spots at once? While watching the game world to see if you need to do avoid something, while watching boss timers? Yeah I didn’t think so. Consolidate it, get a dot/CD timer, consolidate your procs, CDs and debuffs so you can watch them all at once. This way you won’t be constantly moving your focus around trying to figure out what to do next.
Bring information that belongs together, because it servers the same purpose, together. procs, CDs and debuffs all help serve pew pewing the boss. So put them together.
Being able to see whats going on
Flame leviathan with 4 towers is a perfect example for this. You have to watch a dozen different things. Where is FL? Where are the various tower beams? Where are the adds? Am I being targeted? Where is the fire path? Is anyone stuck in ice? Am I near enough to pyrite? Do I need to interrupt? Do I need to slow the boss? Kite adds?
Many fights can test a raiders awareness, but 4 towers (at gear level) seems to be one of the most harsh based on the pure number of things on your screen. Layer your UI over this image, how much of it would you be able to see? Would you be cutting out anything important?
Use the same font through out your UI, use the same bar texture. Not doing so tends to just end up looking messy. Some people like to use the same color throughout, but I find that color is a powerful way to display information such as class through raid frames, or perhaps that’s just force of habit (again).
If your going to display information one way, display it that way all through your UI. Displaying half your buffs wth bars and icons, and the other half with just icons is silly. It gives a ‘bad’ look to your UI.
Future UI posts
I have at least a few more UI posts planned (sorta, maybe), and then probably some more on top of that. I’m not 100% sure what the next post will cover, but I’m sure I’ll pick a interesting topic. I’ll also be posting my own UI, as I go over it, redo parts and slowly make it better (I hope it gets better anyway).