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Reader UI of the Week: Mnemonics' versatile shadow priest 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 know a shadow priest or two, and for the most part, they are pretty decent folk. Since there are no shadow priests in my immediate vicinity, I am hoping that for now I am safe from retribution if anything I say in the following article will offend their delicate shadow sensibilities. Don't hurt me, please.

Mnemonic's UI original struck me as cluttered and odd but quickly manifested into order when I took a look at the raid screenshot. Odd, yes, that the raid screenshot was the one to bring clarity and light to an otherwise incomplete assessment. As you'll soon find out I liked Mnemonic's setup and admission that maybe, just maybe, the extreme level of minimalism that many go to with regard to their UIs isn't for everyone.

Take it away, Mnemonics:
Hi Mat!

I've been meaning to send my UI in for a while now, but been far too lazy to get off my butt to do so. This is also partially because I've been terribly indecisive about my UI and end up changing it every few months. My current UI has lasted at least two months so far (with some minor tweaks here and there), so I thought I should probably send it in before I change it again.

Firstly, my current UI is based on Bhalial's UI (found here). I stumbled on it and thought, "Hey! That's really interesting looking!" and decided to emulate it. It's very similar, but not identical because I have a few things I just can't bear to part with, and I have a hard time dropping down to that level of minimalism (though I absolutely love it).

I have a bunch of addons that I use to make my UI look like this (I'll call them active addons) and a bunch of in the background, quality of life addons (I'll call them passive addons).

Active Addons: Cellular, Chatter, Dominos, Fontain, Grid (with GridManaBars, GridIndicatorBorderTexts, GridIndicatorCornerPlus, GridIndicatorCornerText, GridSideIndicators, and GridStatusHots), KG Panels, Mapster, Masque, Mik's Scrolling Battle Text, OmniCC, Power Auras, Quartz, Satrina Buff Frame, Sexy Map, Skada, SL Data Text, Stuf Unit Frames, Tidy Plates, and TipTac.

Passive Addons: Archy, Align, Atlas Loot, Auctionator, Bagnon, BigWigs, Clique, Combustion Helper (Obviously not enabled for all my characters!), Ferous Media (skins/fonts) Gatherer, LFR Smart Queue, Loot Log, Mog It, oRA3, Postal, Quest Guru, Reforge Lite, XLoot, Yor'Sahj Announce

(Jeez, that's way more than I thought I was using...)

I tend to use the same UI across the board because I play a variety of roles on my small army of alts and wanted a UI that was usable between all of them. My main (shown in the screenshot) is a shadow priest though, with a chance to heal when we're short healers in our raids. So it's primarily focused for DPS over anything else, especially in a raid setting as we're working on Heroic Dragon Soul currently. I'm focusing on keeping track of my dots (through Power Auras and Stuf Unit Frames primarily) and keeping an eye on healer mana during heroic fights so I can use Hymn of Hope for them appropriately (though now that we're up to four raiding priests, this is less of a concern for me).

My health bars are actually transposed over the portraits of my unit frames. I had never done this directly before (I've had my portrait over my health/power bars before, but I had never considered reversing that, as it were), and it took some getting used to, but now that I'm using this – I love it! I've always loved having my portrait out for no reason whatsoever really, and this lets me keep it out without feeling superfluous.
Having been a healer for 4+ years, I have a hard time shelving Grid off my screen, even as a dps. I realize in the end it's not exactly necessary as a dps, but I just can't turn it off or put it away. (That, and since I use this UI throughout all my alts, it needs to be shown for my healing alts to actually heal properly!) And since we're working on Heroic Dragon Soul, it's good to know when half the raid is dead and I should probably stop dpsing and jump off the ship or go stand in some fire when we're wiping.

Really – I love my UI and I really enjoy sharing it. :3

(Also included is a screenshot explaning my Power Auras since that's not inherently obvious.)

-Mnemonics, of Blackdawn
[Stormscale – US]
Thanks for the email and the submission, Mnemonics. DPS caster is one of those roles I've never truly been able to get into, except for a brief stint as a Bright Wizard in Warhammer Online. No, it was always the tank/melee or healer paths for me. I'm always fascinated when I look at caster UIs because so much more of the screen can be utilized, considering half of your visible space isn't covered up with monster rear ends and spell effects. You can consider me officially jealous.

The overall setup of Mnenomics' UI is perfectly acceptable, and I like the height at which all things rest. What struck me as odd and off were the seemingly random, floating UI elements that suddenly made sense after I saw the raid screenshot. Everything makes more sense now!

Giant buffs?

While I'm not disturbed by the giant line of buffs across the top of the screen, I do sometimes wonder about them. Are they drawn to the top of the UI like a moth to a light? Floating at the top like fish food? I am speaking from preference, obviously, and as someone who likes to see the names of buffs and debuffs, the closeness of the icons would be distracting in trying to analyze or remove one of the many squares.

That being said, at least the whole thing is unified. If you're going to go for the giant bar of buffs along the top of the screen, go for the gusto. And in that, things aren't too bad. Sure, it takes up a decent amount of space, but it's not jarring or painful. It's not my style, but I'll cop to appreciation.

True minimalism: Not for everyone (especially me)

Minimalism definitely isn't for everyone. It takes a very special kind of person to want nothing in their way in terms of interface and a very special kind of person to achieve it. We are all not this person, however, so revel in it. I am perfectly content with a chat box that's just a little too big because I like it that way. Frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Many people appreciate minimalism because it represents a distilled version of order and understanding. Why even have information displayed to you when you already understand the intrinsic properties of the keyboard action. When I press X, something specific will happen, and I do not need anything telling me what I already know. Why would you want to do it any other way? It's just not efficient, right?

Sure. Of course. I may be wound up, but I'm not pushing that type of obsession over my user interface. I appreciate minimalism and keeping your screen free as to experience what this game is really about, exploring a world, rather than looking at numbers in a scroll bar. But then I look back on that statement and realize that, much like players have addon preferences, we too have preferences for our playstyles. The fact that the WoW interface operates both from an invisible and very visible option set, players have more choice -- and choice is always good.

What if this is relative minimalism? We have not seen pictures of the UIs previous to this one that lived in the same space. We have no idea if this is the comfortable medium point for all things calm in Mnemonics' UI world. I've gone from states of neat and tidiness to wrecked in a shorter time than Mnenomics took to build this UI, I can guarantee you that. In terms of the user interface, of course ...

Wrapping it up

While there are design choices that I'm just not used to as a melee character and some pieces of the UI operate differently from how I've come to expect things, Mnemonics' efforts have proven excellent. The clean interface takes interesting concepts, adds a unique spin, and functions very competently as a raiding interface without adding clutter. The UI looks comfortable and lived-in during raids, sort of giving me the happy vision of a content raider, leaning back in the chair, excited for a night with friends.

If you'd like to have your user interface featured on WoW Insider's Reader UI of the Week, send screenshots and an email description of your setup to readerui@wowinsider.com.




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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