Matthew Garvin

UX Research, Design, Strategy

Examples of Good and Bad UX/UI in World of Warcraft

Initially, I was going to just discuss Spotify and Snapchat as examples of good and bad UX. Then it dawned on me to discuss the game World of Warcraft as an example of both.

The standard UI for the game has a classic feel to it, but is rather clunky and difficult to use in order to play a game with this level of interactive complexity.


However, the game allows for the use of third party addons, or mods, which modify the UI to augment gameplay and overall user experience. I think this is just brilliant. And while mods are increasingly common amongst big online games, I’m not much of a gamer, I’m really just a childhood fan of Lord of the Rings who always wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons but I lived on a farm in the boondocks and couldn’t get a group together.

This actually brings me to another point, in that as a casual player who isn’t a gamer, I just log in from time to time to scratch an itch. As do many other people. People like me would be completely lost without these addons. So in that sense, they really do improve accessibility for us to enjoy the game and even be competitive.

Some examples of this include and addon called GTFO (Get The F*** Out). This addon sounds an alarm whenever I’m standing in fire, or acid or something that causes damage to my character. This happens a lot, and with everything else that is going on at the same time-


many players will just stand there and either die or become a nuisance to the player(s) charged with healing them.

Another downside to the standard UI is navigation. Now I don’t mean navigating through the interface, I mean using the interface to navigate this mind boggling massive digital universe. I say universe because this game takes place on multiple worlds, at different times and different dimensions and is ever expanding.

One of the major components of the gameplay is exploring this universe by completing quests. While the standard UI does provide some tools such as marking the map and listing quest objectives on the side of the screen as a HUD or Heads Up Display, it can leave you confused, wandering around as a ghost trying to find your body. So a player who also is a developer created an app called TomTom that acts as a navigation arrow in the same vein as GPS navigation, pointing the way to your desired destination. You can set your destination by coordinates, CTRL + Right Click on the map, etc. It even tells you how many “yards” you are from your destination and how long it will take to reach it given current speed and direction. It even allows you to save points on the map so that you can navigate back to interesting or important places not otherwise notated.

These are just two examples of literally thousands of addons developed by the players themselves.

While I find the standard UI to be rather lacking and indicative to a poor UX overall, I also think it is brilliant for the control it gives to the user to modify and control their entire interface.

This last example elaborates on my post and demonstrates how players use addons to augment their gameplay. Just for reference, I use just over 100 addons for my basic UI setup, many of which only activate when I am in a certain zone of the game geographically or playing one of the mini games.


World of Warcraft addons can be found on various websites. Among the most popular are Twitch, which bought Curse, and Tukui, home of ElvUI.

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