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Reader UI of the Week: Healing with Stormstrong

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.

As interface concerns continue to move from function to form, player user interfaces continue to move toward simplicity and pared-down constructs. You wouldn't think that players would want interfaces with fewer graphics and a separation from oddities by fixing interface problems themselves, what with the fixed user interfaces of so many games these days. I will never stop championing the UI as one of the prime factors that made WoW the juggernaut it is today.
To celebrate the freedom that we all share in this addon world, we hold up our community's creations to the sky and ask the community to appraise them. Is this worthy, UI lords atop Lua Mountain, from where all addons come? The Addon Kingdom.
This week's UI comes from resto shaman Stormstrong (love the name) who, like many of my readers, praises minimalism and wants to get his healing job done with as little in the way as possible. Good man, I'd say. Also, has anyone noticed the trend of fewer healing buttons lately? What changed? How are people healing with seemingly fewer buttons these days? Man, I really haven't played my paladin healer in a while ...


Stormstrong's UI -- minimalist, healing, resto shaman
Take it away, Stormstrong:
Hello,
I have just found your blog recently and decided to share my UI and get people's opinion on it. As you can see by the screenshots I am very much a minimalist and that plays a huge role in how I design and setup my Interface. This UI is very much set up for healers and would likely need some tweaking to be usable by DPS and tanks. My monitor's native resolution is 1680x1050. The best way to set describe my UI is in two parts, what you can and can't see. So here goes.
Visible:
Where is recount or skada you ask? I don't use it for raiding because my guild logs all fights to Qorld of Logs. Keep a damage meter would be redundant and take up valuable screen space. I am a minimalist remember.
  • Big Wigs I started using this back in Wrath when DBM wasn't very customizable and Big Wigs was. While DBM has come a long way in customization since then I have just kept with Big Wigs since it does everything I need a boss mod to do for me.
  • Vuhdo My most important addon as a healer. All spells that I need to raid are bound to my left, right, and center mouse buttons and then modified by the alt, crtl, and shift keys giving me 9 different spells or macros I can use. Vuhdo also shows me debuffs and the box for the character is colored by the type (magic, curse, etc.). Vuhdo also allows me to add custom debuffs and can show stacks for boss abilities like Deep Corruption from Yor'shaj. Let us just say its super customizable and it does a lot more for me that I have mentioned.
  • Bartender4 I have recently come back to bartender4 due to its simplicity and moving away from an all in one UI. Because I am a healer most of my casts are through Vuhdo. What I don't have bound in Vuhdo, but is needed for raiding, goes on my 17 button center action bar which remains visible in combat. All 17 buttons are key bound so I don't have to move my mouse off of Vuhdo. I also have a 12 button action bar with my professions, mounts, hearths etc. that disappears in combat. Also I have the micro menu vanish in combat to minimize clutter.
  • Chinchilla my minimap addon. The big feature I like is the zoom minimap feature. This allows me to mine and herb with a large minimap in the middle of my screen. I toggle that with shift+m.
  • Tidyplate Makes my enemy health bars look better and not take up as much space.
  • Pitbull This addon is highly customiziable and can do most anything you want. It is also very modular which is why I am using it. I needed something to handle my character frame, my target frame, and my focus frame. While you can't see my focus frame because I don't use a focus on Morchok it is off to the left of my character frame if in use.
  • Masque Allows me to change the textures on most anything. Makes my bars more appealing to the eye.
Not Visible:
What you don't see I don't use during a raid. But these addons are nice for doing non raid type things.
  • Bagnon A bag addon that combines my bags into one and also show me when I highlight an item or my gold how much I have across all my characters.
  • Prat Chat modification addon. The big feature this brings is the ability to copy URLs
  • Badboy Eliminates the gold seller spam in trade chat. Sadly it might be my favorite addon.
  • Gatherer Keeps a database of all ore and herb nodes I have farmed
  • Move Anything Allows me to move my menus so they don't overlap my chat.
  • Addon Control Panel Allows me to turn on and off addons without logging out to the character list.
With all that said please critique my UI. I love advice and will use it to improve my UI.
Stormstrong
Alexstrasza (US)
Thank you for the email and the submission, Stormstrong. The first thing that I thought of what I saw Stormstrong's UI was that I was concerned about the placement of the chat window. I'm not a big fan of chat that flows upwards away from the center of my screen. Sometimes I feel like I'm chasing text with my eyes and scroll up past the boundaries of my monitor. Very weird feeling. You can imagine, then, how problematic some other games are (The Old Republic) where chat boxes are in a position that is not very flexible.

A simple structure
Structure is important to user interface building because while there isn't really "gravity," so to speak, I feel like designing under conditions in which gravity exists should be adhered to. Think of it this way: The bottom of the screen is the ground, and anything not bolted to the top must fall to the bottom. Sounds simple enough, right? You tack up top the important top addons and then layer everything else on the bottom up.
Stormstrong follows this in a bit of a modified way. Rather than using the bottoms of the player and target frames as the bottom anchor of the addon for our gravity purposes, his has the buffs and debuffs readout. This not only gives these crucial buffs and debuffs room to appear and disappear without being blocked by other addons or interface elements, but also a dedicated space where we can watch for any sneaky debuffs during raid encounters. I always recommend using a target of target frame with only larger debuffs enabled. This allows you to watch the boss as well as make sure the tank doesn't have anything nasty on him or anticipate when damage is coming.
Again, mostly personal preference, but I like my chat at the bottom of my screen. One day, the entire world will agree with me. For now, I am content living in my little shack in the woods where we don't believe in chat anywhere north of the inventory.
In and out of combat
What's nice about large monitors and simple UIs is that you have a ton of space available to put all of that annoying raid crap that comes with addons and timers and the other necessities of the raider lifestyle. I'm very much familiar with this very plight.
Take a look at both of the screenshots that Stormstrong sent to me. Both of these screenshots still remain fairly empty and open with regards to the raiding additions that pop up once an encounter is engaged. Interesting, yes? Things don't necessarily have to be super-complicated when the raid fights begin. Rather, when you have a larger space to put things, the amount you're adding seems like less because there is more total space that stuff can fill up. Aha! So, if you're working with a standard-size 21" monitor or above, spread out your addons, play with the scale, and take a look at what Stormstrong did with his UI, and your raiding components might not look so large or daunting anymore.

So much nice
There are too many little things to talk about that I really like about Stormstrong's UI from a healer angle. The 10-man raid frames smack in the middle, just above the bar, the central focus of the UI, works perfectly. I like the buff and debuff setup under the frames. Having only one bar of abilities is an envious and lethal move that shows a lot of planning into the healing game, along with whatever macros and addons we don't see.
I don't like the chat at the top. We already talked about that. OK. I think that's really it. Oh, also, look at the minimap border. Doesn't it look like it's supposed to be embossed up on the top of the frame? I love it. It's little choices in such a minimalist compilation that make me happy for the creativity that WoW's UI allows players to bring to the game.
Great job, Stormstrong. I love the minimal approach mixed in with a layered bottom-up stack that dedicates the right amount of room to crucial buffs and debuffs. It looks like a fine raiding UI, and anyone out there looking to tidy up their healing UI should take a few clues from Stormstrong's work. Excellent work.

Reader UI needs your submissions
Send me your reader UI submissions in the email! Have a question about UI building? Stumped about how to start working with the WoW user interface? Email me at readerui@wowinsider.com and ask me anything! Anything. Send me your own UI as we get ready for Mists of Pandaria. Include some screenshots and a little explanation about why you did what you did, your addons, favorite aspects of the user interface, and all that jazz. I do hope to hear from you all soon.




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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