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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
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.

Useless information
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.

Information noise
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.

Hey! It was all my tired brain could find without trawling wow forums, and we all know how bad that can be.

This guy is pro and knows about everythin going on. AT ONCE.

Prioritizing information
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.

Consolidating information
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?

Now imagine if I was in the middle of those 10 beams. BEAMS EVERYWHERE. OH GOD OH GOD.

OH GOD ADDS BEHIND ME?! Yes, you need to be able to see behind you.

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).

  1. November 10, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I had Stuf and then IceHUD up, but I had Stuf for the portrait to provide something for right-clicking (leaving group, checking what the raid size is before I walk in, inspecting people, etc.), but my HUD as my main information setup. It was non-interactible when it was up center so I could do things like select mobs by nameplate without going AMIGAWD I WANT THIS MOB NOT MYSELF. So it’s not *totally* useless to have both a unit frame mod and a HUD mod.

    On the Consistency standpoint, that’s if you want to make it look pretty and cohesive. On the other hand, things like my mirror bar or a boss’s cast bar will deliberately have a different bar skin or font so that I notice it, even out of the corner of my eye. If everything looks the same it all blends together.

    • November 11, 2010 at 7:35 am

      So why not just use your unit frames as the HUD? These days almost all unit frame addons have a option for vertical bars, and I’m sure one day soon we’ll see one able to have curved bars too.

      I don’t have anything against HUDs themselves, but rather having a separate addon, and then repeating the information from your unit frame is just silly, instead I would just bring your unit frames to the center of your screen.

      Although since I moved my unit frames away from the center I’ve noticed it hasn’t really impacted me. As a dps my HP is binary, I’m either dead or alive. If I’m at full HP or 5k HP I’m still going to avoid standing in . I still am going to be using netherward almost on CD.

      There’s 5/6/7 healers watching my HP far more closely than I am, and if they aren’t healing me when I’m at 5k I have faith in them that theres a pretty damn good reason, and I won’t be able to do much about it.

      • November 11, 2010 at 7:56 am

        I’m also a IceHUD “offender”, but I refuse to move the unit frames.

        Reason: unit frames are not “movable” by default; I’d have to install an addon for that. And, by default, IceHUD uses translucent (e.g. not completely solid) bar, so you can see through them. And they are usually smaller. And it doesn’t show the useless portrait.

        IceHUD had an option once to remove the default unit frames but, honestly, since the default ones stay so far away, I don’t really care if they are there or not. They do not get in my view. The option may be still there but, again, they original unit frames do not get in my LoS.

        When tanking, I used to disable grid but it seems they disable that option. When healing (in PvP), I use Grid and not the horrendous new default raid frames.

      • November 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm

        So instead of installing a addon to move the blizzard frames, you install a addon to replicate part of their functionality? (Importantly, not all)

      • November 14, 2010 at 11:56 pm

        Well, it’s either one or the other. The problem I see with addons that move the unitframes is that they don’t provide the “translucent” option, and their bars are usually larger than IceHUD. Even if you count for the duplicate info, you have the problem that you’re, in fact, reducing the space in the most important area of the screen: Right in the middle.

        If I, say, install an addon that moves the unitframes as the default look to the middle of the screen, I don’t get duplicate information (as you pointed), but I lose space in a vital portion of the screen.

        If, in the other hand, I install IceHUD and don’t turn on the option to disable the default unitframes, I get information right in the middle of the screen, where I can easily get the important information (health, mana, holy power), in very thing bars (which use a small screen space) and I can still see through them.

        Don’t take me wrong, duplicate information is a waste of space and I totally agree with you in that, but common “move unitframes” addons do not do a good job in it ’cause they move information to another place but still keep stealing important screen space (which is probably the reason Blizzard put on the top left corner from the start: To keep the important area of the screen clean.)

  2. Tam
    November 10, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Xperl makes me cry a little bit inside.

    Also I have to confess that, like Poneria, I am not good at either consolidation or consistency – I use power auras AND forte exorcist AND quartz to track my spell timers. I know, what kind of control freak does that? It’s just sometimes sometimes the environment you’re in obscures one type of information, like Festergut and Power Auras are allergic to each other, so the back up is necessary…

    Actually, yes, writing this out has made me realise just how weird it is 😛

    • November 11, 2010 at 7:56 am

      I think a large part of it is that people tend to use power auras to tell them if something is available, and a timer addon like fortexorcist to tell them that its not, and when it will be available.

  3. November 11, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Even with my new large LED screen, I feel like I often have too much on the screen. I am always looking for ways to unclutter my wow raid interface. That Raid frame with all the stuffs is TOO much for me. Yeah, cool moving icons and all, but really? Seriously? nope. /delete addon.

    Good post, thanks.

    P.S. Keep shooting green fire at dragons 😀

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