Oh, Reader UI of the Week readers, we have a treat for you today. I've wanted to do more interviews on the column for awhile now, and Vhei was a perfect candidate to start this whole thing off with. If you haven't seen Vhei's UI, it's been featured on the column twice, both beautiful revisions of great setups with amazing art and slick settings.
Not only do we have a fun interview with Vhei, but we have a UI update from reader Shamonkey, whose UI was profiled here at the end of 2011. Shamonkey was looking for some help setting up his WoW UI on a 13-inch laptop. Let's see what suggestions that he took from the commenters and the article itself to see how a UI can transform with just a few simple changes.
Talking custom UIs with Vhei
Vhei's UIs caught my eye because of the custom art and sleek designs. I am a fan of the bottom bar, so I was already on board. Vhei's first featured UI showed off a custom-textured bottom bar that looked more like a race car than anything coming from World of Warcraft. The clash of styles works, though, and the orange colors distinguish the environment from the UI elements.
The second UI goes even further with some cool player and target frames, new textures, and different colors. Vhei went with a more traditional color scheme for the fantasy genre, rusty and metallic versus the Kevlar-like textures of the first offering.
I asked Vhei a few questions about UI design, addons, and more. Here we go:
Reader UI of the Week: When did you get started playing World of Warcraft?
Vhei: I started in Jan of '07; however, I played sporadically for about two years. I played for many a month or two and left for three; I wasn't very enticed at that point. I mean, back then, we didn't have LFD or half the features we do now, not even heirlooms, so leveling took a long time. It took me a good two years to reach level 80 when Lich King came out. That's when I really started playing; I even have the scourge event tabard still.
What was your game of choice before you started playing WoW?
Honestly, it was RuneScape. I was pretty young back then, so of course this appealed to me. I really enjoy the whole skilling system and ranks.
What was the first addon you downloaded, if you can remember? What aspect of the game really needed fixing for you?
I believe the first addon I downloaded was Atlas/AtlasLoot. Back then, all we had was Wowhead to look through, and there were no dungeon maps.
As for what really needed fixing? Probably something to entice new players, because around '07-'08, it was hard to play the game without a friend who was a veteran, and I played solo. I met allies along the way, but for about 20 levels, I stumbled and wondered what I was doing.
When did you first try to plan out a UI? What background did you draw from to make custom art?
I first started probably a year ago when I really [got] into web design. Background? Well, for about four to five years, I've had a hobby for web graphic design and have really enjoyed creating interfaces and things of that nature. When I found out about KGPanels, well, I created a custom interface for my UI.
What has been the most rewarding part about making your own gorgeous UIs?
I have complete control of my UI. Other games tell you what UI to use or give you a limited array of options. WoW lets me create my own UI, which is very liberating. I have my own style, and now I can play in it.
Do you have any advice for players who are just starting out but want to make something pretty and useful?
Practice. I kept on making interfaces and designs and gradually understood more techniques. Look at other works for inspiration, and look at tutorials. I even created a web design portfolio off of my second UI; you can see it on my DeviantART gallery, which is a great resource for aspiring graphic designers.
What's your favorite addon? What addon can you never live without?
I'd have to say KGPanels, for the obvious reason!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Vhei. Hopefully there are more UIs in the future that we get to be inspired from.
Shamonkey was looking for UI help, cleaning up a distressed laptop UI on a 13-inch MacBook. While the UI was a bit cluttered and some things could have been streamlined, the heart and focus was there. With just a little bit of movement and trimming, things would be in better shape.
Shamonkey wrote me a short but sweet email:
I've taken some suggestions and here are the results. Thoughts?One of the biggest issues was duplicating functions like the unit and player frames in multiple places on the screen. That issue has been resolved, with the player frame being position bottom center and the target frame being moved to the top. The bottom right corner is now much nicer, with addons stacked and fit more close together, creating a better use of the space.
Another issue that I had with the original UI was that there were unnecessary pieces floating about -- experience bars, more action buttons than needed, too many empty places to put things, etc. With the newer version, action buttons are not displayed unless they have an ability in them, everything feels tighter, and abilities are not separated by empty slots. The aesthetic is cleaner and simpler. I approve.
Wonderful work, Shamonkey. I am glad that the column and the commenters brought you that momentum to fix things up.
See you guys next week! Remember, you can submit your UI for Reader UI of the Week by sending an email and screenshots to email@example.com. We're looking for UIs in anticipation of Mists of Pandaria, so send in those potential panda UIs.
Gallery: Reader UI of the Week gallery
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.