Each week Matthew Porter contributes The Creamy GUI Center, a column aimed at helping you enhance your WoW experience by offering an in depth guide to addons, macros and other tools we use to play WoW, along with commentary on issues that affect how we all play.
As my first column, I wanted to start out with a review of action bar addons. WoW's default UI (User Interface) is built around the action bar and for many is the cornerstone for their interactions within WoW. Comparatively speaking, Blizzard's default UI is elegant and user friendly when contrasted against many other MMOs on the market. In fact WoW's two newest competitors, Vanguard and Lord of the Rings Online, both mimic Blizzard's design to varying degrees. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all. Blizzard's UI doesn't overwhelm the user with information or complexity, which can be a barrier of entry to new players. Its information is displayed cleanly, however its faults lie in the fact it's rather inefficient, and nothing about it can be moved or resized. The action bars are a decent size and buttons are easy to click using your mouse, but it's rather sprawled out taking a lot of screen space including the unnecessary art. For those content with the default layout or who prefer using key bindings, Blizzard's action bars get the job done.
For a lot of users, this isn't enough. There's always room for improvement. Blizzard being the smarties that they are, gave us the freedom to add usability that they never even thought of through the use of addons. (Sometimes to unwanted effects, hello decursive nerf.). You may crave a customized playing field, or a clean and efficient layout, or maybe you just want to express yourself by creating your own UI for that personal touch. To accomplish this let's take a look at three addons that offer different ways to do the same thing: create and manage action bars.