Building a User Interface

A player’s user interface (UI) is a very personal tool — their way of interacting with the world environment in a way that makes sense to them.  While this post is listed as “building” a user interface, in actuality, it’s more about selecting the right tools for the job to create a user interface that will help you achieve the results that will make the game experience more manageable, and downright fun.  In that vein, I’m going to deconstruct my addon folder for you, explaining the addons I have, and how they rate in importance to the final result.


The first thing to consider when selecting a component for you user interface it what exactly it is providing that you need!  Most addon users start small — a raid warning mod for example — and then decide they could really use their raid frames in another position, or their bags are constantly a mess.  Some addons I consider “must-haves” at this point in my playing career.  Surprisingly, this is my shortest list, because if I had too, I could live with the standard UI for most things.



A toned down version of Auctioneer (actually looks like the original quite a bit).  I hate the auction house, and wouldn’t go near it without an auction house program in place.

Cargbags (Aurora plugin)

A bag program makes my life so much easier.  The bigger the bag slots get, the more junk I find to fill them, and anything that makes this job easier is required in my book.

Deadly Boss Mods

I just don’t think I could live without some type of boss warning mod.  I’ve gone back and forth between DBM and Bigwigs, depending on the one I thought was providing the best updates / warnings at the time.  There is actually a new program out I’m interested in trying, but for now, DBM is a definite must-have!


A lightweight and easy to configure bar mod.  I used Bartender for quite a while, but big patches have caused it issues in the past, and it just doesn’t provide any more functionality that I personally use to make the wait worthwhile — I must have my buttons!


My personal choice for raid / party frames.  If you don’t like grid, feel free to check out my raid frame guide for other options.


Used for player, target, target of target, focus, and pet in my current UI.  I just cannot function with the standard location of the WoW unit frames, and Stuf is extremely flexible, allowing me to change the look and feel of my UI again and again as my needs and tastes change.


For many classes, threat meters feel like an option, not a requirement, but I just cannot stay away from them.  Tidythreat saves me screen real estate (vital on a 15″ laptop) while providing me with the critical information I need.

Totem Timers

If I didn’t play a shaman (and when I don’t) this isn’t even in my addon folder.  However, it just makes totem management so much more effective and space saving that I cannot live without it.


These addons improve my overall enjoyment of my game — they save me time, make common tasks easier, and overall, just make me feel like I’m spending more time in the “fun” parts of the game instead of the housekeeping.  Most of my addons are in this category.


Colors players name by class if known.


Ampere lets me enable / disable add-ons directly from my interface options within the game.  No more logging out to turn off a resource drainer when going into raids, or turning on my PvP setup.


Clique allows me to easily make my spells click2cast, saving me some painful and often spectacularly failing attempts at macro writing.


Simply makes reading the combat log for your own events easier.  Easy to place where most convenient for you as well.


A rune management addon.  I can get this with Stuf, but I just honestly think these are much prettier and easier to read at a glance.


Hides those pesky “Out of mana,” “Not enough energy,” “Out of range” messages that can drive any sane person crazy and litter your screen with non-critical information.


All in one cooldown (bar) and debuff manager.  Plenty of addons out there do both these jobs, but Forte offers such a clean, easy to set up system, it’s just worth the plug-in for each class.  Warlocks get all kinds of nifty stone management tools as well.


Puts a nice big purple, blue or green glow around items of that quality.


Cooldown timer, meaning it puts a big number on anything that is possibly on cooldown, allowing you to see at a glance when an item or ability will be ready for use again.  I actually probably no longer need this addon, but it is the longest running addon in my entire folder.


A nifty set of ring buttons that can be brought into existence at the click of a defined keybind.  I personally use it for stances, hearthstones, mounts, and buffs.


Achievement whoring at its best.  I totally do not need this addon, but I love it.  When I run across a bunny, it lets me know whether it needs /love or not.  When I see a fishing pool on my minimap, it alerts me whether I should fish their for a needed achievement.  Great, great addon for those who hate checking their achievement log.


Makes my chatbox my friend instead of a frustrating tool I want to delete off my screen.


Save time at the mailbox!  Open all your mail in one click, or specify those packages you want to open in an easy to use interface available at your local mailbox.

Power Auras

A very flexible graphical tool for tracking just about any buff/debuff you can imagine — sound options too!  Used by me to track procs primarily.


Casting bar for everything imaginable, as well as mirror timer.  I should probably ditch this one, as I only use it to see the enemy cast bar, but long-time friends are hard to part with.


Quest log and frame replacement. The in-game addon is fine, but I have some quirks, such as being able to minimize my quest panel on demand that this program provides. Quest levels in the quest log are nice too.


Let’s you know whether a piece of gear is listed as part of any set you have saved through the default equipment manager.


Truly, hard to decide whether this was a must-have or merely a convience because it is such a powerful tool.  SBF allows you to make an incalculable number of buff/debuff display bars and whitelist/blacklist to your heart’s content.


An excellent damage and threat meter.  Another hard fit for me.  This WAS an absolute requirement when I used it for my threat meter,  but now it is merely a convenience for me.


Sure, I can check my gold, fps, and durability in the standard UI, but it’s just too darn easy to have it blocked off in an incospicious part of my UI where I can see it at a glance without opening my backpack.


Sells my grey items when I talk to a vendor.  That’s it.  No muss, no fuss.


Ever open your map just as someone is sending you a tell asking for your sage advice?  Had a group invite pop up?  This addon reduces the size of your main map, allowing you to still interact with the world on a limited basis without changing the look or feel of the original map.


There’s a ton of tooptip addons out there — if you know lua, even a couple I’d suggest over Tiptac — but I’m a fairly out of the box person with my conveniences, and Tiptac is just what I need without a lot of fuss.  I could live without a tooltip addon, but I’m glad I don’t have to.


Turn in quest.  View quest reward.  See glowing border on best-selling quest reward option.  Win!


Sometimes a girl just wants to look pretty, and the same goes for my user interface.  I don’t need for my map border to match my theme, or to have a slight glossy appearance to my buttons… but it makes me feel good to log on and go “that looks nice.”


Provides a grid on your screen allowing you to more easily … *cough*… align elements of your UI.


Well, it provides more than I use.  I use it for the viewport addon which condenses my screen by a few pixels to make up for some art I’ve put in the bottom of my UI.  However, it is actually designed to provide an easy way for users to put art panels into their UI.


Makes looting prettier.

Buttonfacade (Elegance)

Makes button prettier.  Can be used to skin more than Dominoes (Opie, Totemtimers, and SBF all  have plugin support for BF).


Bring your own artwork to WoW.  I believe I have around 5 active panels at the moment with KG.  Probably my most actively changed portion of my UI, as I find new art themes and get tired of old ones.  Great for borders too!


Makes your mini-map prettier and movable.  The only reason I have a mini-map addon is to make my UI more aesthetically pleasing.

And there you have it — the multitude of addons that I personally use to build my own “perfect” UI.  I know that it is most likely only functional and really loved by me, but that’s just the point — it is absolutely perfect for me!  (Actually, I’d really like to do some tweaking to my setup, but I AM happy with my addon lineup :P)

My Current UI

My Current UI

What addons could you not live without?  Are they any really just awesome addons that you use to make your gameplay in WoW more enjoyable and less of a hassle?



4 thoughts on “Building a User Interface

  1. Wow … I am officially an add-on noob. I have barely a fifth of these, and I can see the point of pretty much of all them… you do realise you're sending me into a spiral of despair about UI, right? 🙂

    • Tamarind, if you had any idea how much time she spends fiddling with her UI, you wouldn't despair.
      "What'cha doin, hon?"

      "Nothin, just fiddlin"


    • Oh noes! That is totally not the intent! This is how I got to my UI though, looking at other people's and going "why do they want that?" and then after trying it "meh, I don't need it."

      I have a habit of building up and stripping down my UI — I was down to 10 addons on point recently, but it never seems to last.

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