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Shadowëater
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re: Thoughts/Tips on UI design

Disclamer: For anyone looking to get/stay away from compilations and work w/ individual addons to make your own custom UI from scratch, while still having it look 1/2 way decent Read on: If you're happy running mostly stock or on the product of someone elses design, feel free to skip the rest of this post.

If you want to start from scratch and build a UI thats entirely your own, I highly recommend Btex as a UI  foundation. It's intention is as Bottom bar art, but It has a simple grid-overlay display that can help you  position and size every component of your UI . The few layouts it comes with are also good as generic templates to help get the basics of your design organized and properly scaled to your screen and favorite view distance (Most UI designers fail to mention, but propper scale/proportion matters ALOT and varies greatly from user to user). There are also alot of downloadable skins for Btex if you dont find anything you like "in the box". If you like the shape of a skin more than the look of a skin, just use it as a template to setup and then disable btex alltogether = Clean/organized UI w/ NO art :D  

Overall it's a fantastic tool to get your layout started.

Long-time Btex user Tip: Dont overlook the options for adjusting any btex skins transparency and color, you can make most of the "ugly" skins much more palatable w/ a few tweaks on those sliders.

 

Use any addons you'd like, I've tried most of the major addons out there, and almost all the ones for casters. But try not to be too stuborn about keeping one if you just can't make it fit into your design, odds are there's a replacement on Curse that will work better for you in the long run & keeping an open mind about trying something else can save you much grief in the design process.

The one firm suggestion I'd give, as a starting point: Start working with your choice of addons that replace the stock UI elements first: Action bars, Unit/raid frames, Chat & Map.

 

---General UI Design tips I've picked up on over the years--- Entirely IMHO, don't bother trolling :P

#1: Keep the important stuff near your character & dont hide your feet! The more important the info is the more readily visable it should be (Center of Screen). But Remember; the inverse is also true... try to minimize the realestate given over to unimportant information, particularly while in combat. An instantious view of your Meter addon will not help you win a fight, nor in most cases will the chatbox. Scale & Transparency adjustments can be just as important as positioning. Pay particular attention to UI elements that can be hidden/faded based on your combat state. As a General Rule: if during combat you have to shift your eyes away from your character, you need to ask yourself if you can fix that.

#2: Symmetry is almost always asthetically pleasing, but not always the most functional design path.

#3: UI elements visable during combat should help you survive that combat: if it's distracting or debilitating there is a serious flaw in your design.

#4: Redundant display of combat information is good, if the information is critical enough. (Think how DBM's bars are displayed) But keep rule 3 in mind.

#5: If you have an addon that you only use part of, or is clunky to work with, see if it can be replaced by a Weak Aura and/or Macro. In my experience, many can. If not, there is probably a simpler addon on Curse that will do just the thing you want and no more.

#6: Six small addons may take up less system resources than 1 big one. It's not about how many you have, it's about how you use them and what they do. Additionally, How much memory they use is NOT necessarily related to how much they degrade your framerate, anyone who thinks so should total up their usage and compare it to their system memory as a percentage. 100MB used on a system with 8000MB (8Gigs) is not an ammount your gonna notice. How much any single addon can demand (second by second) of the Game Engine, Network or Video card is entirely a different matter.

#7: Pretty isnt nearly as important as functional, a good UI will help you play better by making your hands/eyes jobs easier.

#8: Think about how you can take some of the workload off your Eyes by taking advantage of the reserved processing power your brain uses for your ears. Addons like GTFO and VEM are good places to start, adding sound effects to important Weak Auras is another great way to "display" important events while leaving your eyes free to notice other things.

----NITPICKS: (Blending it all together)----

#9: Not all addons use the same text fonts, nor should they necessarily, but almost all of them can be changed in their menus. Pick 1 or 2 fonts for most things, 12 fonts onscreen is ugly. Additionally, there's no reason all your text has to be one color, but if it's not white, do try to tie it in with your overall look, after you have an overall look.

#10: Many addons have Transparency & Color sliders somewhere on their options, in some cases such adjustments can be MUCH more functional than cosmetic (The Hideously distracting and opaque default look of recount being a prime example) But an ugly UI can distract almost as much as a poorly designed one.

#11: You can change the skins of most of your common addons by using a simple addon like Masque for some subtle but pleasingly unique effects. There are other mods for adding bling and flare to your shiny new layout, but make sure you're happy w/ the structure of your UI before you "Paint" it.

 



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Kreljnok
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re: Thoughts/Tips on UI design

My head hurts



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Shadowëater
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re: Thoughts/Tips on UI design

Sorry, I had orriginallly included the wall o text in my response to Luvshocks UI picture request thread & thought it better to move it elsewhere. Hopefully it'll help someone w/ any aspect of their UI projects.

 



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