Having a clean, efficient UI is important for more than just having your game look pretty while you play. A good UI set up helps you filter out unnecessary information so you can concentrate on what you need to know in order to maximize your performance.
I’m going to explain not only how I set up my UI, but why I have it set up this way. All the screenshots in this post link to full size (2474 x 1392) versions so you can clearly see my setup.
When you set up your UI, you want to keep the most important information closer to the middle of your screen to minimize the amount of moving your eyes have to do. Think of it like driving a car… look at the dashboard. The important stuff is right in front of your face—speedometer, tachometer, gas gauge, etc. The placement of these isn’t random, they are placed there to maximize the amount of time your eyes stay on the road. You want your UI to function the same way.
Here’s my UI in “configuration mode”. You can see that my character is literally framed by all of the alerts I have. On my left, Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text shows incoming heals and damage. At my feet is a Deadly Boss Mods timer showing the next event about to occur. To my right, outgoing heals and damage. Above my head, I have a TON of information packed into a tiny space. Serenity shows how much focus I have, which aspect I am in, tracks cooldowns and times the duration of important procs/buffs. It also warns me when the target does not have Hunter’s Mark applied and when in combat, shows how much health my target has. Below my focus bar, I have two Quartz cast bars. The top one shows MY cast time and the bottom shows my target’s cast time. Above the focus bar, I have important alerts about buffs/debuffs my target has just gained as well as notifications when important cooldowns are available.
Now let’s look at the setup with “zones” shown:
As you can see, the most important information is contained in the green zone and the secondary information is in the orange zone. Anything placed outside of the orange area is stuff that you probably should not be looking at while in combat… chat window, Recount, action bars, etc. (Note: this is why I stress the importance of keybindings! You should never need to be looking at your bars.) All of that stuff is not your primary focus in combat. The green zone, and sometimes the orange zone is where your eyes need to be.
It seems like a lot of clutter, but looking back at the first shot of my UI, there’s really not that much going on. The most important stuff is right next to my character and when I am in combat, my eyes rarely stray outside of the green zone.
When you apply these “zones” to the first screenshot of my UI during a boss fight, you get this:
Things that you can see in the green zone: my focus, durations of my buffs [Rapid Fire, agi potion, Improved Serpent Sting, cooldowns on abilities [Rapid Fire], my cast bar, incoming heals, outgoing damage, the boss health frame, the boss’s target.
Things you can see in the orange zone: my health, my pet’s health, my pet’s target [you absolutely need to keep track of your pet's target, hunters!], my focus [95% of the time this is the main tank], my focus’s target, raid warnings, items off cooldown.
You don’t need to use addons to change up your UI, but addons do make it much, much easier to do. I disabled ALL addons on my rogue and was able to create a similar setup in less than 30 seconds: