Seeing as lot of people are sharing their UI’s and the fact that I’ve been lacking any imagination lately, I decided to share mine and some thoughts on UI’s as well.
As most people, I started off with the basic Blizzard UI. It wasn’t until I saw a friend play with these additional action bars that I started to fiddle around with addons. In the years that I’ve played I’ve gone from curious to being an addon-junkie. My UI is constantly being improved, and I usually end up completely changing it every few months. With each change making it slightly better (at least hopefully)than it used to be. My first ever modified UI, still very basic (and notice guild chat), looked like this:
Before I start showing off, I’d like to share few tips to those new to UI customization and to those struggling with it. Making an UI reminds me of running an instance. It’s frustrating, you need to be focused, it’s time consuming and doesn’t always go as planned, but in the end it’s worth it. My first attempts at making my own UI usually went like this: I would get several addons I thought looked funky, enabled them all, (later learned to enable them one by one) threw them around trying not to clutter my screen too badly, then eventually gave up. If you recognize yourself in this, I recommend to instead getting a UI package/compilation, which basically is a bunch of addons with preset settings. Spend a few minutes getting to know it, perhaps do some instances to see how it works in a group setting, then start tweaking to fit you. The end result will be miles better. My first attempt at doing this resulted in this UI:
Full resolution: http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j167/Zeeon/RaidUI.jpg
Eventually you’ll become comfortable enough to start making bigger and bigger changes. This is the time where most people start thinking about making a complete new UI from scratch, usually with a significantly better end result than the first time they tried it. Not only did I learn to enable addons a few at a time, I also planned ahead. Before even starting to download the addons, I would have a rough image in my head of how my UI would look. From there I would browse the addons I needed to fulfill those visions, comparing similar ones to find the one those who fit my purpose. After all of this I would set up it up the way I had imagined it, play with it, improve it. Then rinse and repeat until I was happy with the outcome. Here’s my first self made UI. It’s not the prettiest, but it was functional and I loved it as a healer.
Full resolution: http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j167/Zeeon/Adus.jpg
During raids I would move recount and open Omen where the map currently is, making room for 25-player Grid. The open space to the bottom right is for tracking HOT’s and DOT’s(invaluable for a resto druid). The quest tracker also had a show/hide functionality.
What I tried to do with this, and had done with previous UI’s, was to seperate the game and non-game part of my UI. I was happy with this for quite a while, but later discovered that it wasn’t optimal, especially not while DPS-ing or tanking. The way to make your UI as efficent as possible is to have everything that requires immediate attention (player and target frames, procs, raid frames if you are a healer etc.) in the center of the screen, while the stuff you only need to look at occasionally (maps, buffs, chat, damage meters, action bars etc.) off to the edges of the screen. This will allow you keep an eye on everything that is going on around you, like standing the fire, while still not having to move your vision to look at non-game world stuff.
My attempts at doing this previously might have resulted in efficent UI’s, but rarely good looking ones. So I decided to go with the old approach of finding a UI package, then modifying it. Here’s the result.
Full resolution: http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j167/Zeeon/UI-7.jpg
Your first reaction looking at this is more than likely “What the bloody hell am I looking at?”. The answer, is LUI. This screen shot is from when I was playing chicken in Ulduar. As mentioned above, everything that I would want to look at without having to move my eyes from what’s going on, is close by. If I’m running around as a tree, my CD-timer and action bars swap places with the raid frames. On top of all of this, it’s peeerdy! I can’t deny that it took me a good while to get used to (and set up *shudder*), but I’ve fallen utterly in love with it. It’s got everything I want in an UI. Looks, functionality and not that high memory usuage that it makes my computer cry.
To finish of this rather long rant I’d like to add a couple of thoughts related to UI’s. First up is key-bindings. I used to click every single spell I had on my action bars, later I would use my keyboard for 1-5 then click the rest. Now I’ve got every single spell I might have to use in combat keybound and memorized. It took me a while to get used to and memorize them all, but I ended up improving my healing vastly. Just not being dependant on having too look down at your action bars makes a huge difference. You might even come across some UI’s with no action bars whatsoever, just hidden ones with keybindings the player knows by heart. To not have to move your left hand all over your keyboard, remember that you can use Control and Shift on the 1-6 keys (and all other for that matter) for additional bindings, in addtion to letters like: Q, E (I’ll come to that later), F, G, C, X and Z.
“Keybind Q and E? But then I can’t strafe!” Oh yes you can, you just have to get rid of an old habit. Keyboard turning. Hearing this you’re now either thinking “What’s wrong with that?”, or “Eeewwwww!”. Keyboard turning is the act of turning with A and D. It’s slow and unresponsive, and it takes up 2 keys you could be using for key bindings. This might not seem like a great deal, but upon forcing my self to learn to turn by using the mouse, I felt like I had been playing the game the wrong way for four years. The simplest way to force yourself to learn this is to bind your strafing keys to A and D, and bind Q and E to spells. You’ll find your self doing a lot of weird stuff, possibly causing some wipes, but eventually it will feel as natural as A an D turning did.