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Reader UI of the Week: Ring in the new year with something basic

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.

We're going to start the new year off with a simple setup from Emandiputs from the Stormscale realm. Emandiputs is a self-described long-time WoW Insider fan -- and since this is the first Reader UI of the Week of 2012 and my 100th Reader UI of the Week column, I figured I would give the floor to a veteran of the site. So thank you in advance for the submission and the screenshots, Emandiputs.

And thank you all for coming along with me on this journey. I didn't really know how long I would be writing for WoW Insider when I joined on. One hundred Reader UI of the Week columns as well as a host of other content later has really hit me today as a substantial thing. Thank you all for reading and letting me get to do this awesome thing. I appreciate it more than you could ever know.

Let's get down to business, then. What we've got here is Emandiput's crack at another user interface after a new computer purchase and a trip back to the world of Azeroth. I cannot tell you how much I recommend trying to come up with a whole new UI on a new system. You'll feel fresh and clean and have that happy feeling when everything fits the way you want it to. An old UI from an old computer can sometimes leave behind a weird taste in your mouth. Something just isn't right, you know? It happens for me, at least.

Emandiputs' UI -- bottom bar UI, new computer, multi-role UI

Let's first here from Emandiputs, who sent in a nice long email describing his UI goals and addons.
Hi Mat,

My name is Emandiputs of Stormscale US-H, a longtime WoW player and reader of WoW Insider, especially your addon columns. Here is my new UI. It's pretty much done, but always a work in progress as I look for cool new improvements to add to my UI. I just got a new computer and decided to come back to WoW. (Un)fortunately, I had to create an entire new interface from scratch. I already had a pretty detailed and functional UI when I was using the old computer, but it was a bit cluttered and since then my priorities as a player have changed (namely, I no longer heal as my main raiding role and now I play my PvP DK in between raiding more than my raiding character, the druid). So I decided to create a simplified, bottom-bar type UI with a few guidelines-

1- It had to have all the functionality of my old UI with none of the clutter or unnecessary information. I had to be really discriminating when it came to what information I did and didn't have a need for.

2- It had to be mainly symmetrical and just look nice.

3. It had to be suitable for PvP as a DPS, PvP healing, and raiding as all 3 roles. While I'm a 25-man raider at heart, I PvP a -lot- to pass the time, although I'm not quite an expert at it yet (1600 in arenas is about my limit, but I hope to get better!).

4- Utility. I've played with friend's UIs and been so annoyed at little things (like no chat, mail, or auction addons, boxes not lining up symmetrically, etc.). I just wanted to make a UI that felt like home and wouldn't drive me crazy while I sat in Orgrimmar.

Here's the list of all the addons I currently use-

Shadowed Unit Frames- My unit frame addon of choice. I like the clean, simple look of it, and I love the functionality it provides. With every idea for unit frames I've had, there was an option in the SUF configuration that allowed me to do it.

Deadly Boss Mods- I used to use BigWigs (my raid group required it) but I just found DBM to be simple and functional enough for my needs. I have an area designated for the DBM timer bars for boss abilities just to the left of the chat frame. The bars grow and come upwards to rest on top of the bottom bar when they're close to expiring. I like this because it doesn't clutter the middle of my screen with bars and big text.

kgPanels- Used it to create the "bottom bar" look. Just a big panel in the background across the bottom of the screen.

Prat- I just use it because Chatter wasn't available on WoW Interface (or at least I didn't see it). They're basically the same anyway. In my opinion, a chat frame addon is a necessity.

Dominos- My actionbar addon of choice. Bartender didn't really do it for me, but they provide basically the same functionality. Used it to manipulate the actionbars into their current arrangement. Also have a bar on the left edge of the screen that is hidden until you mouse over it and contains my Hearthstone, profession buttons, etc.. Love this addon.

Masque/ButtonFacade- Used to give the action buttons a nice, clean look.

OmniCC- Adds text on top of abilities that indicates how much time is left until you can use it. Exceedingly useful when you need to line up cooldowns or you just can't really tell how much time is left on an ability. Kinda acts weird with DKs and Runic Empowerment, but that's easily overlooked.

Raven- Buff/debuff addon of choice. I just use it as a way to move around and scale buff icons and make them look a bit nicer. I'd really like to implement something in my bottom bar similar to what I saw in Aeide's UI a few weeks ago in your column to eliminate the need to have buffs way up in the corner. That was really just the best way I've ever seen buffs handled. The problem is, I don't know how to go about doing that. Maybe you could help out! *wink wink*

Skada- Damage/healing/threat/etc. meter. A necessity in today's raiding, and quite useful for improving your play.

SL Data Text- Really useful little addon. Invaluable having all that information in one neat little spot.

Chinchilla- Similarly to Prat, I really only use this because I couldn't find SexyMap (not really that sexy, IMO). However, it provides all the functionality I need.

Minimap Button Frame- Used it to keep all my minimap icons in a handy, easily accessible little spot (to the top left of my minimap, if you can't see).

Align- Critical for making sure everything lines up evenly and looks symmetrical. My UI wouldn't look symmetrical without it and it saved me from having to dig a ruler out of my desk.

AdiBags- No-brainer. I don't really need to explain this one, do I? :)

Postal- Mail addon of choice. Eliminates a lot of hassle when opening mail and such.

TidyPlates- Used it to make the floating nameplates look nicer. Very helpful, especially when tanking or PvPing, and looks immensely better than the default Blizzard nameplates.

TipTac- Tooltip addon. Used it to add critical information to the tooltip and to make it look aesthetically better and fit in with the UI's theme a little better.

BadKitty- Druid DPS-specific. Appears just above the player and target frames and monitors all my important feral buffs/debuffs with little bars. Improves my DPS a lot and lets you focus on getting out of the many things in WoW which will hurt you if stood in. Disappears when not in combat or in Cat Form so as not to add clutter.

Acherus rune display- DK-specific. Appears in the same place as BadKitty and also disappears out of combat. Used to track runes and runic power in an eye-pleasing way and very useful if you play a DK. Very configurable, too. I made it into vertical bars that shrink as runes come off cooldown but there is a multitude of other ways to do it.

My raid frames are the built-in Shadowed Unit Frames. I probably would have added Clique if I was still mainspec healing but I just do it the old fashioned way. I prefer the look of it to Grid or Vuhdo or other popular healing addons and it still has all the same functionality.

It really helped me to plan out a rough draft of what I wanted to do on graph paper and keep my guidelines in mind as I constructed my UI. It only took a couple hours to get the basic look and features in, and only a day after I started I'm just making very small tweaks here and there. Any suggestions, comments, opinions, thoughts, issues, criticisms, etc. you have for me, I'd love to hear, even the smallest things. You can never get too many people's opinions and it's all in the name of making a better UI. Thanks in advance for featuring my UI and please don't ever stop doing this column! :)

P.S. My cousin named my druid, so don't make fun of it. Name changes are too expensive. /sigh

P.P.S. I can't figure out how to get the chat tabs (general, combat) to fade out all the way. It bugs me. Please help.
Thanks for the email and the submission, Emandiputs, and congratulations on the new computer and all that jazz. Don't worry, this is a judgement-free zone -- no name is too bad or goofy to be a part of Reader UI of the Week. I can't speak for the commenters, though. Smiley face goes here.

A time to change

One of the best times to force yourself into making interface improvements is when you get a new computer, get a new hard drive, or install a fresh copy of World of Warcraft. You're already in the starting over mindset, so why not carry that over into the user interface? While it's hard to let go of a WoW install because of how easy it is to move the folder off your hard drive and back on again to play right away, you can still start a new profile and keep the old setup for a rainy day, if you ever wanted to go back.

User interface changes are all about momentum. You need to have the patience and the drive to spend the time and energy fidgeting with options and moving interface elements to get everything the way you want it. It's annoying and sometimes a hassle but that's what we love about it, right?

Anyway, think about renovating the next time you reinstall or move to a new system. It's like spring cleaning -- it's potentially a lot of work, but now you aren't embarrassed to have people over.

A bit too big?

While I like the layout and the setup of Emandiputs' UI, the size of the black bar at the bottom of the UI seems a bit big to me. When people have huge damage meter bars, I instantly react by figuring out how to make them smaller and, by association, everything else around them smaller. The damage meters are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to addons that players made "too big." Of course, all addons and their sizes are up to personal preference, but I've always been a fan of slim damage meters that can be scrolled through or researched and studied after a fight and not necessarily during it. During a fight, players need to know if they're doing their DPS and not stealing aggro, not necessarily knowing the entire raid's numbers. You're going to be more focused after the battle, anyway, to do deep analysis of the meters.

For now, I would say trim down the size of the damage meters and, with that, trim down the rest of the bottom bar. I think you could achieve the same setup with different dimensions. I'd be more forgiving of the bottom bar's size if the player and target frames were also under the cut, so to speak, but they also hang off the top, so I'm inclined to see it trimmed down some.

Minimap Button Frame

There are some addons that just blow others out of the water in terms of effectiveness and quality of life improvement, and Minimap Button Frame laughs at other addons when it comes to usefulness. Whenever I see UIs with MBF, I know that the person who sent it in understands what it's like to mess around with a problem for a long time and finally find the perfect answer to your problems.

I'll be doing my year in review articles soon, and MBF might make the list of top five addons from 2011. While it wasn't created in 2011, it made some of the best improvements to my UI possible. For many people, getting rid of the minimap buttons from their minimap doesn't seem like a huge deal. However, with the number of official Blizzard buttons on the minimap as well as every addon under the sun adding a new icon to an already cluttered mess, people need to be alerted to an easy fix that will save your appreciation of the minimap and its usefulness.

By removing the clutter from your minimap, you'll be able to set the dimensions on the map smaller since you wn't have to worry about finding room for all of those icons hanging out around the borders. Icons like the Dungeon and Faid Finder buttons, PvP Battleground indicator, calendar button, and more become easily accessible, reducing panic while you try to find the button to leave a Battleground or teleport to an instance quickly. Cleaning up the little things will lead to a better UI.

I like what I see, Emandiputs. It looks like your UI works for multiple classes, isn't very intrusive (save for the large black box at the bottom) while being generally well put-together. Trim down your DPS meters, and everything will follow in a glorious way.

As for your final P.P.S. question, there is an option in the chat settings (right-click on the tabs) that will let you lock the chat window and make those tabs disappear. You can set it so the tabs reappear when you hover your mouse over them. It's a nifty trick!

Thanks for the submission, and I'll see you guys next week.




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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