This is the first article in what will be a series detailing how to build a healing user interface (UI). In my wanderings around the internet one of the themes that keeps repeating is that everyone, healers included, is always looking for a way to maximize their performance and many times UI improvements can go a long way toward that goal.
Begin at the beginning…
The core of any healer’s interface is the connection between the person behind the keyboard and the heath bars of our raid. Every decision that a healer makes need to be directed at how to make the bars stay happy. I would say the biggest one, but also the most forgiving, is deciding which unit frames to use. Gone are the days of the mythical HealBot that legitimately healed for you. Current choices include standard Blizzard unit frames, Grid, Grid2, VuhDo, Healbot … Any of these will work and there are people playing at very high levels with them all. The basic premise remains the same throughout, you have a little box that turns funny colors when people get hurt, or have a bad debuff, or a buff. You can show role, class, name, health in absolute numbers or percentages, your hots/buffs on players, their own hots/buffs, the other healers’ hots/buffs and the list goes on. The core of a functional set of raid frames is displaying the information that you feel is important in a way that is easily interpreted and can be quickly acted upon if necessary. It is immensely easy to clutter up your raid frames so that they’re too busy to be useful so a lot of what gets done is streamlining.
After you’ve grabbed the raid frames of your choice, you need to set up how you interact with your frames to heal the peoples. Some of the raid frames come with integrated spell tools that allow you to use right and left click with modifiers to cast healing spells as you mouseover the player unit frames, some rely on external input that can be mouseover macros set up through the Blizzard macro tool or through an external macro tool like Clique, or you can select a frame by clicking on it and casting a spell from a normal keybind (or clicking something on your action bar, but I promise you that’s a terrible way to do things).
Since this is all about how I do things, we’re going to look at VuhDo and have since I started my first healer back in Wrath. It’s not that I’m being stubborn and haven’t tried other options. I’ve dabbled with Grid and Grid2 (yes, these are completely different things) and was forced into Healbot during MoP beta since it was the only thing that worked in the early days but I’ve always come back to VuhDo.