A Guide to Setting Up an Effective Raiding UI

Add-ons have become such a huge part of World of Warcraft that it’d be tough to find anyone who doesn’t have a single add-on installed.  With thousands of add-ons currently existing and new ones coming out all the time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of having TOO MANY.  This holds especially true for raiding because if we overload ourselves with too much information from add-ons, we won’t be able to see that scary fire under our feet.  A UI that’s optimally set up for raiding should present as LITTLE information as necessary so that you can focus more on the specific encounter that you’re engaged in.  Here are some recommendations for setting up an effective UI for raiding.

Wtf is going on?
An example of what NOT to do!

This post will focus more on the theory of an effective UI rather than the actual specific add-ons since everyone has their own preference for which add-ons they’d like to use.  Most of the most popular add-ons can be found on the Curse site.  If you’re having trouble finding an add-on with a specific functionality or want another opinion on how to get everything set up, just let us know in the comments below.

Step 1.  Removing Unused Add-ons

The first step is to take a long hard look at your currently installed add-ons and ask yourself “is this really something that I NEED?”  Be at least twice as strict with yourself when installing new add-ons so you can avoid having to purge unused add-ons frequently.

Step 2.  Identifying Raid Critical Add-ons

Once you’ve trimmed your add-ons list to the bare necessities, the next step is to repeat the process in the context of raiding.  Go through the newly trimmed add-ons list and mark the ones that are ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for raiding DURING AN ENCOUNTER.  Things such as damage meters, bag mods, loot trackers, and mini-map add-ons don’t provide information that’s critical to an encounter and should be excluded from this list.

Step 3.  Setting Up and Customizing

Now that you’re left with the bare minimum list of add-ons that you can’t raid without, it’s time to get them set up!

raidUI2

Zone 1: The Center

Since the World of Warcraft camera is always centered on your character, in a raid encounter, it’s important that our eyes stay near the center of the screen.  If our eyes are looking too far away from the center, we’ll be unable to react when a harmful spell is coming our way.  Naturally, this means that the center of your screen should be reserved for ONLY the most important pieces of information.  The more important the information, the closer to the center of the screen it should be.  By default, most boss mods follow this logic and place the most important alerts near the center – a practice that I recommend you continue.

Zone 2: In-between

Zone 2, the area between the edges of the screen and the center, holds the information that you’ll be looking at very often in a typical raid encounter.  This is where the bulk of your raid-critical add-ons should be displaying their information.  Things such as cooldown trackers, boss ability timer bars, raid frames (for healers), and auras that track important procs should be placed in zone 2.  The idea is to have information close enough to the center of your screen that you can, using your peripheral vision, still keep an eye on your character and make sure that you’re out of harm’s way.  Conversely, while you’re looking at your character, you should be able to notice an important proc.  Although not absolutely necessary, if you’ve managed to trim down your necessary add-ons enough, you may want to clump all of the zone 2 add-ons onto one side.  If you have information on both the left and right side in zone 2, you still keep the benefit of being able to see the center of the screen with peripheral vision, but run into the issue of not being able to see the opposite side.  I recommend using adjacent sections (e.g. bottom+left or bottom+right) if you can’t manage to fit everything into just one.  Avoid adding too much to the top section of zone 2 since most of the time, the top section shows us what lies in front of our character.  Also, if you’re using nameplates, nameplates typically show up above the targets and end up cluttering the top section of zone 2.

Zone 3: The Edges

The edges of the screen should contain bits of information that you may not need every few seconds, but would still be nice to have and look at a few times every fight.  This is also the space you can sneak in some of the add-ons you trimmed in step 2 (DAMAGE METERS!).  If you prefer having your action bars visible, keep them out of the way (because you don’t need to CLICK anything there, right?) by placing them in zone 3.  Although it can be tempting to fill up every bit of space in zone 3 with random extras, DON’T DO IT!

Step 4.  Finishing Touches

Now that we have an idea of where to position things on the screen, play around with it to make it look pretty.  A nice and pretty looking UI will make you feel better about playing the game so make sure you’re happy with the result.  Another finishing touch to make is to apply the trimming concept to the streams of information that the add-ons provide.  Here’s a short list of examples to consider:

SCT

As a DPS, is it really necessary to know about incoming healing or damage?  Of course, you want to know if you’re getting hit by something, but you should realize that by watching chunks of your health bar disappearing.  Consider filtering the scrolling combat text to not include the actual incoming damage amounts.  Although watching numbers pop up all over the place when you AoE can be entertaining, moving outgoing damage to a specific location of your screen and activating grouping will keep things much neater.

Nameplates

Many raid encounters include giant waves of adds that can quickly cover your screen with nameplates.  Filter for these specific fights and either make the nameplates smaller, transparent, or remove them altogether.  If you’re using nameplates to keep track of debuffs on a target, filter the specific debuffs to only include the most important ones.

Boss Mods

Boss mods have a tendency to track many abilities that may not be important to a majority of the raid.  Filter out the abilities that are shown to be specific to what YOU personally need.  Be sure to emphasize the most important abilities, but be careful not to arbitrarily emphasize everything.

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2 thoughts on “A Guide to Setting Up an Effective Raiding UI

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