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Reader UI of the Week: Cleaning up a distressed laptop UI

Each week, WoW Insider and Mathew McCurley bring you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which spotlights the latest user interface addons. Have a screenshot of your own UI that you'd like to submit? Send your screenshots along with info on what mods you're using to readerui@wowinsider.com, and follow Mathew on Twitter.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend, because it's time to get serious -- interface serious. That's like the most intense kind of serious, next to super-serious. This week's reader submission needs some super-serious help, tips, and tricks to help make things more manageable for its user, Shamonkey. And while I'm not the most forgiving person when it comes to novelty pun names, I am forgiving when someone is in need. Shamonkey, we've got your back.

Shamonkey's UI is a little out of sorts -- not unusable by any stretch of the imagination, but things could use a bit of a tidying up, don't you think? There's no shame in asking for some help, and laptop UIs are always a hot topic amongst emailers and commenters. Take a look, read my advice, and maybe post some of your own in the comments.

Shamonkey's UI -- laptop UI, multi-purpose, just a little messy

What's the situation, Shamonkey?
i play a shaman and a warrior on zuluhed-us.

my ui is jacked and im looking to clean it up to be somewhat like the one shown on dec. 20th 2011. he was also a shaman and it looked really clean. the only addons i want to keep for sure are titanpanel and bartender. i will condense those to whatever size needed. also, i play on a 13" macbook so my screen space is limited. my shaman is pve only and my warrior is pve/pvp. if you have any ideas for solutions to both, feel free to tell me, but if youre having trouble, all im really worried about is the shaman, btw, im elemental. HAVE FUN.

Shamonkey-ele shaman-zuluhed-us
Thanks for the submission, Shamonkey. The problem with laptops is not their computing or video quality, considering WoW is one of those games that is designed specifically to be run on pretty much any machine out there. Sure, you might have to tinker with some addons to get the ones that won't give you a performance drop, but for the most part laptops function in a very similar way to desktops with regards to World of Warcraft.

As usual, my first piece of advice is to always have a clear set of goals and rules to follow so that you give your UI some extra boundaries other than the four corners of the monitor. Why do we want clear goals? Well, if you know your destination, making decisions to get there seems like a worthy endeavor.

For a laptop UI, the first thing to think about is realizing that you have limited screen real estate and consequently that you're going to want to cut down on addons that duplicate functions. Taking away some of the repeated addon functions will clear up some space and open up your options as to what can go where.

The second big goal is to get rid of interface elements that have some easily usable keybinds that you can spare. Removing interface elements that have other avenues to their precious interface features means less stuff on your screen. Good times, right? Let's get started.

Duplicating functions

People who send me UIs to look over and give them advice almost universally have too many addons that do the same thing. Shamonkey is guilty of having both a player/unit frame addon as well as a HUD-style player frame draped to the sides of his character. For the space-conscious, you're going to want to remove this waste. Pick which addon type and display configuration you like the best, and move on. Especially as a DPSer, you're only really going to have to be monitoring your health, since mana and resources usually aren't an issue for your DPS classes.

If your unit and player frames are taking up a bunch of space, double it when you're in combat. Remember, the enemy has a target frame and information that goes along with that, so choose wisely, because you're basically choosing twice. If you don't mind this amount of stuff on screen, try scaling the UI elements down a bit so that they are still present but take up less space.

Remove some stuff

I've always been a staunch advocate against the huge, unwieldy micromenu bar that graces the bottom right corner of Shamonkey's screen. There are addons that you can find to change the way the micromenu works, where you can move it, and stick it on a LDB bar. The micro menu has most of its functions mapped to keys by default, so if you do not use a lot of the letter keys for abilities, you might still have all this stuff bound to their original keys.

If you don't want to get rid of the micromenu, try scaling it down. An addon like Bartender or Dominos will let you independently scale the micro menu bar, and you'll still be able to access all of the functions but with fewer space concerns.

Bag icons are probably not needed. Doesn't everyone just default the B button to open all of your bags, anyway? As someone who has had some sort of bag addon for years, I still cannot fathom why we're doing the separate bags thing anymore. It's just not that fun and it takes up a lot of space. So get rid of those bag buttons, make B open all bags, and you'll save yourself some prime corner real estate down in the bottom right.

Now that we're cleared up

Now that some interface elements are moved or gone or scaled down to the point where the UI is comfortably viewable but also open enough, we can start shifting pieces around. After the micromenu is moved and scaled and the bag bar is just flat-out shot into space, you have a whole empty corner to stash some addons in. First, move the damage meters down to the bottom and spread out the action bars a bit. You'll have more room to play with them, as well as scale your action bars, so have fun. Play around with locations.

For laptop screens, I tell people to pretend the middle of the screen is addon-phobic -- addons just bounce right off the center and push out to the sides. Create your interface with addons around the periphery rather than up front in your character's face. You'll have an easier time moving around, noticing ground effects, and addons just won't be in your way.

The chat box can also stand to move around a bit. Having it float out in the open like that could potentially get in the way of the action, but it's not too bad. Like I said, once those addons are removed or scaled from the bottom, the action bars can move and the chat box would fit perfectly in the corner, a happy new home for your favorite text.

Finally, consider a minimap addon that will let you scale the map as well. You don't need the minimap for as many things are you think you do, and a smaller minimap allows for greater customization up top. Keeping the Titan bar up top is perfectly fine and exactly where I would leave it, but the minimap definitely needs a tweak or two to save you even more space.




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.

Filed under: Add-Ons, Reader UI of the Week

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