In the comments on my most recent WeakAuras post, several people said that they’d be interested in hearing about my user interface (UI) and keybinding setups. I discussed my UI setup briefly about a year ago, but it’s probably worth a more complete (and updated) discussion.
For starters, here’s my interface. The link below contains an annotated screenshot where I’ve identified all of the relevant addons I’m using.
I’ve put a lot of thought into this interface, revamping and revising it over many years. The basic goal is pretty straightforward – make information easily accessible and arrange it in order of importance. As I said in the Ask Theck post:
[My UI is] generally arranged around a principle of “least eye movement.” The idea is that the stuff you need to act on quickly should be in front of you, and require little to no eye movement to see. Stuff that’s not as important, or things you only check once in a while, go farther out. This minimizes the amount of time your eyes spend searching your UI for information, and lets you concentrate on the decision-making portions of gameplay.
What’s important? Things like ability cooldowns, important temporary buffs (GAnK, AD, etc.), enemy spell casts, and DBM timers that are about to expire. As you can see, those things are all clustered around the middle of the screen, just far enough out that I have an unobstructed view of myself, the boss, and the area immediately around me. My WeakAuras HUD gives me at-a-glance information about my rotational abilities directly below my character. I have Gnosis set up to put an enemy cast bar right above the Holy Power indicator. A custom Raven group slightly off to the upper left tells me about important temporary buffs, which includes pretty much every mitigation cooldown, enchant, and trinket proc I might care about. And DBM timers that are about to expire are to the immediate left, so I can see what’s coming up in the next 10 seconds.
As we go further out, things gradually drop off in importance. Below the WeakAuras HUD is my own cast bar (which almost never shows, since we don’t cast much), and immediately below that are my player, target, target of target (ToT), and ToToT unit frames. Below those are my Bartender action bars and minimap. Boss and boss target frames are to the right. Longer-duration DBM timers are off to the top left. Incoming damage and heals are shown to the far left (via Mik’s Scrolling Battle Text, or MSBT), and outgoing damage is shown to the far right (also MSBT). Grid is off to the far left. In the corners are the least important things: Chat frame, Omen/Recount, buff icons (via Raven).
One thought you might have had is, “Wait, isn’t your health important?” Indeed it is, which may lead to the follow-up question, “So why is your player frame so far from the center?” The answer is scale – note how large the health bar is. It’s that size for a reason – it makes it easy to see in the periphery of my vision. I don’t need the player frame to be any closer, because the health bar is so big that I can easily see it at all times at that distance without looking. Since I generally only need a rough estimate of my health anyway, this is perfect. It’s also the reason so many unit frame mods make the health bar so big, and one of the major reasons why a unit frame addon is preferable to the default UI.
As a final note, I should mention that I double up on some keys by using Clique in combination with Grid. Clique lets you assign spells to modifier+mouse button combinations on specific frames. So, for example, I can set it up such that when I use Mouse4 on a player in Grid, it casts WoG on them, even though Mouse4 is bound to CS when I click it outside of the Grid frames. This adds a lot of versatility, especially for spells that target friendly players – it’s basically like an entire suite of mouseover macros, but only for the particular unit frames you want them to work on. So in Clique, I have WoG, Sacred Shield, and all of the Hand spells bound to different mouse/modifier combinations.
Most players who use a WASD scheme will bind A and D to left and right strafe, respectively. W controls forward motion, while S is backpedaling. Those four keys give you your basic range of motion. Then you have the keys on the periphery that you can use for bindings: 1-4, Q, E, F, Z, X, and C are all prime real estate for abilities. There are some keys that are a little harder to reach, which are shown in yellow: tilde, 5, T, G, and V. These are reachable, but require a little bit of stretching. Everything else is a little tough to reach – you can hit F1-F5, but you have to take your fingers off of WASD; similarly, 6, B, H and Y are pretty much unreachable without loss of movement control. However, you do have full control of all three modifier keys – Alt, Control, and Shift – which allows you a decent number of key binding combinations.
Now let’s look at the ESDF scheme:
In ESDF, your movement keys are shifted over one spot. This opens up a number of new bindings. First of all, I disagree with the coloring in this image – green is supposed to indicate that a key is fast and easy to reach, so Z, X, C, and V ought to be green instead of yellow. V, G, T, and 5 are now in the “easy-to-reach” category, bringing our total of “easy” buttons to 15, up from 11 in the WASD scheme. We can also reach 1, 6, Y, H, and B now with only a little stretching (Y, H, and B could almost be included in the “easy” set in my opinion, but that may depend on your hand size and typing ability). Our total of yellow keys is still 5 (tilde, 5, T, G, V in the WASD scheme; 1, 6, Y, H, B in the ESDF scheme). And we still have 4 keys to the right that we can hit if we give up movement control (7, U, J, N) along with the F-keys, but we’ve added a new one to the top left (tilde). We also keep all three modifier keys in this configuration, opening up quite a few more binding options. This is one of the strengths of the ESDF scheme: it expands the number of binds you can access with your left hand.
There’s another reason the ESDF scheme is more convenient for me – it maintains your usual hand positioning while typing. I took a keyboarding class in high school, so I was taught proper hand positioning and typing practice. My hands naturally drift to the home row when I’m in front of a keyboard, and I’m pretty proficient at reaching all potential key combinations (to the tune of ~70 words per minute, give or take). It just feels unnatural to me to put my hand in the WASD configuration. Furthermore, I can actually hit most of the “unreachable” buttons with my left hand without too much trouble if I need to, because most keyboards have a raised “nub” on F and J that lets you quickly position your hands. So while I have to give up control to hit U, J, N, or 7, I can do it in a pinch because it takes me very little time to recover.
So how do I arrange my skills within this scheme? Something like this:
In this image, the lower right corner is what’s bound to that key normally. To the left is the combination with the Alt modifier, and top right is the combination with the Control modifier. So for example, hitting W uses a trinket, Shift+W is Hammer of Wrath, and Alt+W is Word of Glory.
F1-F8 take some work to hit, but they’re still accessible enough that it was worth using them for something. When I was raid leading, I found myself needing to use raid markers quickly while in combat, and these keys were perfect for that since I wasn’t using them otherwise.
1-5 are easier to reach, and thus get more common spells. 1 is a Righteous Fury toggle macro that helps with taunt swaps. 2 is Judgment, which is a bind that literally goes back to the first days of WoW – it’s the spot where Judgment defaulted to when I learned it, and it never moved. 3 is Rebuke, and in general I use 3 for interrupts on all of my characters. 4 is Hammer of Justice (and likewise, usually a stun or CC on other classes). 5 is a Hand of Protection macro that doesn’t get much use anymore, but still comes in handy occasionally.
Tilde is my mount macro, since it’s far enough out that it would be difficult to use in combat. N brings up the talents pane, J brings up my world map. I don’t remember what U does, but it’s another interface panel of some sort.
Q is Holy Avenger. I don’t have anything else relevant bound to Q, because I moved the quest log to Shift+Q and the other combinations (Alt+Q and Control+Q) are awkward. W pulls triple duty: its default function is a /castsequence trinket macro, but with Shift it becomes Hammer of Wrath (Shift+W has been my “execute” button for what seems like forever) and with Alt it becomes my self-WoG hotkey. I don’t actually have a WoG keybind for other players – I use Grid and Clique for that (Mouse4 on a unit’s box casts WoG on them).
E is solely for movement. In the past, I’ve had things bound to Shift+E and Alt+E, but it had a tendency to get in the way of movement (or, for example, moving while using a different Shift+Key bind) so I unbound them. R is actually the in-game “reply to whisper” function, which is probably a waste, but it’s become so ingrained that every time I try to re-bind it somewhere else and use that key, I end up casting whatever I put there every time I try to reply to someone, so I gave up on that. I do have Shift+R bound to a macro that self-casts my L90 talent (Light’s Hammer on the image, even though it doesn’t actually work with that particular talent).
T is still the default “toggle auto-attack” button, but Shift+T is my L90 talent (again, shown as Light’s Hammer). I have Alt+T bound to Turn Evil, but to be honest I can’t remember casting it once so far this expansion, so I left it off the diagram. Y is a little difficult to use, so I have it bound to my cloak tinker (Goblin Glider). H is Divine Protection by default, and Shift+H is Devotion Aura. Alt+H is difficult to use effectively, so it’s not bound.
B is actually Shield of the Righteous. I think that by default, B opens your bags (a function I’ve moved to Shift+B), but that seemed like a waste of good key real estate, so I quickly (as in, in late 2004) rebound that to take advantage of it.
V controls a mouseover macro that taunts if the target is hostile and casts Cleanse if they’re friendly. Shift+V is my self-cleanse button (which hasn’t gotten much use since Wrath, when Cleanse was nerfed). C is still bound to the character pane (another bind I just couldn’t disabuse myself of), but Shift+C is Avenging Wrath. Alt+C is bound for use out-of-combat (Survey, I think) since it’s too awkward to use during combat.
X and Z are my big defensive buttons. I’ve had X bound to Divine Shield since Classic WoW, with a /cancelaura macro for “stupid pally tricks.” Shift+X is my bind for Guardian of Ancient Kings. I don’t think Alt+X is bound to anything at all, certainly nothing I use enough to remember it. Z is Ardent Defender. Alt+Z is bound to something too, but it’s not combat related (I think it toggles the UI for screenshots).
Now for the movement row. S, D, and F are my strafe and backpedal buttons, as per the usual ESDF scheme. Shift+S is Repentance, and Shift+F is a Hand of Freedom macro (also bound to 6, but Shift+F is much easier to hit). Alt+S is my keybind for the ExtraActionButton that Blizzard added in Cataclysm. D is my consumable button – Shift+D uses my healthstone (or a healing potion – it’s a dynamic macro made by the addon Buffet) and Alt+D uses an armor potion (in DPS specs, this is a DPS potion).
A and G are actually… keyboard turning, believe it or not. Now, before you start laughing, hear me out. Would I absolutely need these keys? Probably not – I do most of my turning with the right mouse button and strafing. And I probably should unbind them and put something useful on A and G. But I’ve found that there are times when I want to be moving and turning and clicking on something – for example, I’m strafe-kiting a group of adds and I’m trying to target a loose one that’s on a healer (think heroic Nefarian in T11 for a specific example). Being able to “circle-strafe” with just the keyboard is actually pretty useful in those situations, because it gives me a little more freedom of movement while still giving me the freedom to use my mouse for targeting. I think that in the long run, these keys will get rebound once I decide I need more easily-available key binds. but I seem to have more than enough as it is, so I’m in no hurry.
Shift+A isn’t shown, but it’s a self-cast Hand of Salvation macro that doesn’t see much use anymore. Shift+G is my “self-cast Sacred Shield” macro.
You might notice some conspicuous omissions on this list. For example… where’s Crusader Strike? Well, this is another oddity of my play style. I actually perform most of my regular rotation with my mouse. I use a Logitech G400 (formerly MX518, formerly MX500):
The thumb buttons (mouse4 and mouse5, or back and forward in most browsers) cover CS, HotR, and AS. I have SotR bound to Shift+Mouse4 as well, which is a little redundant until you think about how I have it bound on the keyboard. I can easily hit B while moving forward, left, or backward, but I can’t simultaneously strafe right (F) and hit B because they require the same finger. B used to be my Holy Shield bind in Cataclysm (and Shift+Mouse4 my SotR bind), and in tweaking my binds for Mists beta I just dropped SotR there in its place. I got used to using B in beta, and now use it more than Shift+M4 just because it’s faster and easier to hit, even though Shift+M4 is less obtrusive.
The three buttons on the top of the mouse are re-bound to [, ], and ‘ in Logitech’s software, which are then bound to the spells shown in-game. The button above the wheel controls Holy Wrath, Consecration (with Shift), and Every Man for Himself (with Alt). This button has generally become my “AoE” button on other characters as well.
The button immediately below the wheel used to control Hand of Reckoning (now Reckoning) and Righteous Defense (with Shift) until they removed RD. Blinding Light was my drop-in replacement for that slot, though to be honest I’ve used it so little that I’ve been swapping it out for fight-specific macros. Alt+this button is what I use for my belt tinker (Plasma Shield or Nitro Boosts).
The final button on the top of the mouse is Lay on Hands, and automatically self-casts when combined with Shift. I don’t believe I have anything bound to Alt+ either of these keys at the moment, but I have slots for them on Bartender so that I can put fight-specific stuff there.
All of my seals are handled with the mouse wheel. The wheel’s unmodified behavior is zooming in and out (I frequently do this during fights for a better view of what’s going on, or to zoom in to see the ground beneath me better). I used to use Shift+Wheel for auras in Cataclysm, but found that once in a while I’d accidentally change (or turn off) auras during combat when I was trying to cast and zoom at the same time. With auras removed in MoP, it was logical to move seals to these keybinds (Seals used to be Shift+R, Shift+T, Shift+G) since they’re not as commonly changed, but to avoid the “accidental swap” issue I changed the modifier keys to Alt and Control.