New monitor means back to UI design

I’m an addon fiend. I don’t know if it’s because I think the default UI sucks for affliction, or if I just like the cleaner look some addons give me. But I change everything about the default interface.

My new computer means I can see graphics I’ve never really seen before. My guild and others find it funny or awesome how I’m essentially discovering WoW for the first time as it was meant to be seen. I’m still floored by simple things like water. Water has ripples! I don’t mean the one ripple that happens on lowest graphic settings to show that you stepped into water. The ripples will actually collide with each other if you go in with a pet. It also does the image distortion when you look from above water at things underwater!

There is ground clutter now, so forests look like they have actual vegetation now. I go to Feralas now and do nothing but run around on a ground mount, squeeing at the ground clutter and sunshafts.

Point is: I’m probably going to be distracted in raid this week. I’ll be seeing spell animations I’ve never seen before in-person, and I’ll also have a fluid framerate in 25man combat. Previously, I’ve had single-digit fps in 25man combat. On Ultraxion, it got to the point where all the spells in the combat log from the green crystal’s effect meant I was playing Russian roulette with the Heroic Will button after 40-50% (I still won a lot of the time!).

I don’t want to throw another wrench into my raid performance with a new UI to get used to. So I essentially recreated my old UI — with a few planned tweaking — onto my new screen size. The unit frames and auras are based off my bear’s style of play, which I was liking more and more, but everything else is basically the same.

First, here’s an old (early April) UI screenshot, in combat to show all my pretty raid clutter. You can even see the LOL-able “0 fps” next to my action bars. Next, here’s a shot of my old UI reconfigured on my new screen.

I’ve played a bit with the old-UI-on-new-screen look, and the center just feels too cluttered. My old UI on my old screen felt like a lot of things were going on in the center, but it was okay, because everything had its place. On the new screen, I feel like some thing are in the wrong spot, though I don’t know where the right spot would be.

I also feel like I stare at the bottom of my screen too much, and I really want to “look up” more, especially to see my newly detailed surroundings. I want a minimal look (I love just looking at the world), but I still want the right amount of information that I need during raid encounters in a spot I can stare at easily (i.e. the center).

Finally, I feel like I’m enlarging things too much. I admit, 12pt font on a gigantic screen is not as great as 10pt font was on a smaller screen. I used to be able to do tiny tiny fonts, and though those who liked bigger fonts were either older or had worse eye problems than I. Now I’m finding it might just be how many pixels you have!

To give you an idea of the size upgrade I’ve gotten, here’s a size comparison. I realize that most media things get compared with both boxes sharing a corner, but I think it’s better to compare this WoW upgrade with sharing the center. My WoW avatar is always in the center, no matter the screen size. I feel very much like the sides are ridiculously far apart now, and while there’s more vertical space, I still feel like stooping since I’ve switched ratios as well as pixel dimensions (was 4:3, now 16:9).

So while I’ll raid a week on my almost transplanted UI, I want to explore my new dimensions of pixel space. I’m also slowly changing keybinds, since my “real” keyboard is a bit wider than my laptop keyboard (it feels, anyway), and my mouse hand has a numpad and insert/arrow keys chunk in the way between it and the right hand side of the keyboard. I used to cheat with my right hand to hit things like “0-=”, but I can’t do that anymore. So Q, E, & R have already gotten some love on the keybind front.

But it’ll be a slow progression, changing a couple things at a time. Changing everything at once just means I’ll be all confused at once.

Some UI things I like

I like looking at the world. Therefore, I like the minimalistic-looking interfaces, even if it’s not minimalistic in how many addons I use. I like thin bars, thin/smooth fonts, and solid colors rather than patterns and fancy fonts.

Side by side unit frames (player vs. target). I was particularly reminded of Fizziks’ second UI when KaitAuras sent in the 3D spell effects minimalistic UI. Now that I have more lateral room to spread, I feel like I will go with this option (how I had it for my bear) rather than my old staggered design (warlock).

Making an interactive rotation with WeakAuras. On my warlock, my DoTs are all icon debuffs. On my bear, I turned my rotation into a set of Weak Auras to keep up, or to keep down. I’ve put in cooldowns with Weak Auras, where on cooldown it desaturates, and off cooldown it’s the bright icon. I’ve put all kinds of procs in there, but now also my debuffs. My bear rotation is super fun for me because it’s pretty, I think. I started to mess with it already on my warlock, and I like how I’ve done the part that I’ve done.

The only drawback is when I’m starting a new class or toon and don’t know what I have yet — then I have to rely on a de/buff bar (Raven) to tell me what’s up. After I figure out priorities, the design of a Weak Auras set up starts to draw itself in my head.

I’m not too much a fan of portraits, though some UIs manage to pull them off. I might try some for pure eye candy now that I have space to spare, but I’ll probably end up not doing it.

Symmetry is cool, especially horizontal symmetry, but I’m okay with switching it up a little like the focus & target of target frames I’ve already arranged.

When I switch specs, only the WeakAuras change, so I’d prefer to build a layout to meet both/all specs. On the one hand, warlock is all DPS all the time, so it’s not as difficult as a hybrid class’s UI. On the other hand, I often use my warlock’s UI as the base for all my other class UIs, so it is still a little important to make things universal.

What things do you like in a user interface?

Do you use different UIs for different purposes (raiding versus questing) or character classes? Do you prefer minimalism or do you have pretty kgPanel textures on your screen?

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New monitor means back to UI design

6 thoughts on “New monitor means back to UI design

  1. I do use KGPanels, but they’re in a very limited capacity. They line my center buttons (2 bars full) plus my chatbox and my omen/recount box. The UI design I use is pretty simple (and I’m not using a minimap addon right now because the one I had has stopped getting updates)

    http://twitpic.com/89c4en/full

  2. I like a fairly minimal UI. I used to use NeedToKnow for all my cooldowns, and while it was ok, the bar groups just ended up filling so much screen space. I’ve switched to using a combination of ForteXorcist and SexyCooldown – FX for the short cooldowns (because they’re more important and FX lets you customise them more) and SCD for long cooldowns and important buffs/debuffs. I like that you can have vertical bars with SCD, they’re good for making use of widescreen space, I find.

    One thing I do on all my characters, though, is completely hide my main actionbars. With keybinds for everything except non-vital stuff (like group buffs – BoK, PW:F etc.) they are just not needed, and you can save a load of screen space by not having them visible.

    I also used to have a similar setup to your second screenshot with regards to player and target unitframes, but I changed to using IceHUD because it can display the same information without seeming to get in the way as much – it’s easier to look past it, but not so much that it’s actually hard to see. It’s also easier to click past when you need to target something nearby.

    I ought to write a blog post about this 😀

    1. I’ve tried hiding my keybinds, and I like them there for OmniCC, but also for the visual. It feels weird not see Corruption out of the corner of my eye, even though I don’t need it. It’s subconscious I swear, because I don’t notice it when I’m in combat, but it trips me up if I try hiding the bars.

      I used to play with IceHUD as my unit frames, actually. The problem I found was with clicking to either inspect or ignore or leave party. If I enabled clicking on the frames, it interfered with my clicking nameplates to select targets (as a lock, but even worse as a bear tank). but if I disabled clicking on the frames…then I couldn’t leave party half the time! I fudged it by having clickthrough HUD but then a unit frame addon as a portrait for party functions, and then I just ditched the HUD all together for the unit frame addon, which I like better.

      But use the HUD if that’s what you prefer!

  3. While the center may appear cluttered, what I am seeing is that you’re focusing the important things near the center so you don’t have to go looking around for information. That’s more or less how my UI’s evolved over the years as well.

    While it is very tempting to utilize the entire wide screen for your UI, I’ve found it tiring to have to crane my neck a lot to find stuff. I still have my mini map where it started out at, but I keep thinking about moving it back down to the center for farming purposes.

    1. All the important stuff is in there. I mean it feels cluttered as in there are things that aren’t super important that are there, things that don’t have to be exactly in the middle, but can be put a little farther out.

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