Maintaining a Tank / Healer UI

I had promised to provide more “guides” to tank/healer coordination, and felt that this was a good topic on how they each display and use different UI elements. 

Holy and Protection UIs

Holy and Protection UIs

I consider your UI (User Interface) the most important thing on your screen when playing WoW, well at least when raiding/dungeon-crawling.  Well, and outside of the fire that you are not supposed to be standing in… that’s important too; but I digress. 

When participating in a raid or dungeon, you need information at your finger tips.  Whether it be the health of your fellow party when healing, or the health of the boss and his adds when dpsing, or even the health of both the boss and your party when tanking.  As I have mentioned before, I’m a glutton for punishment since I have spec’d both Holy and Protection as my dual specs.  Basically I get to either stress out over keeping everyone alive, or stress out over keeping everyone alive and making sure that nobody goes and kills one of my teammates. Kind of speeds up the burnout process, but as the Help Tips during the loading screens say “Be sure to take all things in moderation, even World of Warcraft.” 

Anyway, being both a tank and a healer, my UI needs to change each time that I change specs.  I was in a hurry, and unable to send the pics to the PC that I post from, but will add them later, as I have an example of my tanking and my healing UI, and the differences between each. There are different focuses that you need to… focus.. on when healing or tanking.  I’m guessing that some would say that that’s obvious, but I’m simply trying to point out the specifics. 


Party/Raid Frames

I currently use Grid to provide a consolidated view of the members of my raid, including the GridManaBars addon to allow me to view the mana/rage/energy/runic power of my fellow party members.  This addon is used for both healing (obviously), and tanking.  I have previously spoken about how important awareness is when both tanking and healing, and this specific aspect is one of the central points of that awareness. 



When healing, Party/Raid Frames are the way in which you can see the health of each member, and which members are getting hit, and for how much.  This is key to choosing the heals that you want to cast, and triaging who should get those heals first.  In some cases, it also allows you to know when you need to pick up some extra healing targets, because another healer is low on mana.  These are all important, and keeping that information at your fingertips is crucial to healing affectively. 

When tanking, like when healing, Party/Raid Frames are the way in which you can see the health of each member, and which members are getting hit, and for how much.  However, it is a slightly lesser focus than it would be as a healer.  Instead these frames are used to determine if you (as a paladin tank in this case) want to burn a cooldown and pop a raid wall and divert some of the raid damage away, and allow the healers some breathing room.  It is also a way to help you ditermine if you want to pop a personal bubble wall and cut down your incoming damage by 50% allowing the healers to ease up when low on mana.    Lastly, and I have been guilty as of late, it also allows you to see who’s dead and needs a res before the next pull (that’s for another post entirely). 

Threat Meters

Threat meters are pretty important now-a-days.  With DPS becoming more powerful, and pouring out more and more damage, and bosses/mobs hitting like trucks, it is important that threat is managed properly. I have always trusted Omen as my threat meter of choice. 

The almighty Omen

The Almighty Omen

When healing, there are a few things that threat meters can be used for.  First up is the obvious concept of watching your own healing threat.  Each heal provides a slight amount of threat on an enemy target, this amount being slightly larger when healing yourself.  So by watching the threat meters, you can ensure that you do not mistakely bypass the tank, and pull aggro upon yourself and likely getting insta-gibbed if not careful (thank the Light for plate armor).  Also, threat meters allow you to keep an eye on other party members and their threat in relation to the tank.  The reason this is important, is basically a case where if that member overcomes the tank’s threat… they’re going to get hit, and if they’re going to get hit, you’re going to have to heal them quick.  Sometimes it could be a matter of pixely life or death. 

When tanking, threat is king.  You have to ensure that you are on the top of the threat meters.  When you picked up that sword and shield, you made an oath that you were going to make things hit you in the face, and only you.  This oath must be upheld, or the party/raid is going to wipe.  All tanking classes have abilities that allow them to increase the amount of threat put out, as well as threat specific abilities.  These abilities attribute to your overal TPS (Threat Per Second).  As long as you can keep your TPS over all other members in the party, then the target you are working on will continue to punch you in the face, and nobody else.  This also pertains to multiple targets, as ensuring that you check the threat of all targets around you will provide a quicker response in case something slips through the cracks. 


There are two types of buffs that I’ll talk about here, those that you cast, and those that are cast upon you. 

Your Buffs:

I currently use PallyPower to keep track of my Blessings, and who does and doesn’t have them.  This allows me to simply click on a class to cast the assigned Blessing on them.  It also provides a button to turn on my Righteous Fury in case I’m tanking.  In addition, I also have a separate bar that is dedicated to just those blessings in case I’m not in a party, and want to carebear out some Blessings to some random passers-by.  This is used for both my tanking and healing UI. 

Pally Power

Pally Power

Buff Bar

Backup Buff Bar

 Another special bar that I have is directly below the “Focus” frame.  It allows for me to cast focus macro’d spells when the time is needed.  This includes Beacon, Divine Shield, and Hand of Protection when Healing, and Hammer of Justice and/or Righteous Defense buttons for tanking. 

Focus Action Bar

Focus Action Bar

Other’s Buffs:

I have just recently installed Elkano’s Buffbars… and I love it.  It is so much more handy than the little icons that show up on the default UI.  Instead it provides a “Quartz” type timer to each of the buffs on you.  This is a great time saver, and allows  you to glance up to see what buffs are up, and what buffs need to be refreshed.  Another great feature is that it also provides a timerbar for your debuffs as well, this is critical when tanking, since some debuffs are important to keep an eye on, and knowledge of when they fall off determines when you need to taunt off of the other tank in some fights.  In general important information at a glance whether you’re tanking or healing. 

Elkano's Buffbars

Elkano's Buffbars

Damage Meters:

*shiver* Ugh, such an ugly phrase, a phrase used by noobs and ePeen strokers.  I personally have used Recount for a long time now.  I have not personally used it to stretch out the ‘ol ePeen, but instead used it to somewhat determine how others around me are performing.  Now, to make it clear, this is only on the damage dealing side, as healing meters are practically useless as they don’t truly calculate absorbs and overhealing into a single value.  They do calculate HPS (Healing Per Second), but that is only important on a case by case basis. 



When tanking I have used the damage meters to measure my own output on the bosses/targets around me.  This can be used in cooperation with threat meters to determine what kind of damage will create what kind of threat.  It will also help, in a case where you’re raid leading, in making decisions on when to use Heroism/Bloodlust and when to pull a raid member aside and ask them what’s up 🙂 

When healing, I have used it to get a scale of how much I heal.  I have never used it as a tool to tell somebody else that they aren’t healing enough, because different heals heal in different ways, and in some cases, you could top the charts in healing done, but also have 70% of it be overheal… not very efficient. 

Button Layout:

I have mentioned before that I am a point and click type person.  I don’t have many spells keybound, and very few macros.  Instead I like to group useful spells together, and especially when tanking, group them where I can reach them. 

When I’m healing, I’m usually focusing on Grid and my surroundings.  I really attempt to not get tunnel vision, but sometimes it can’t be helped.  Anyway, I do have a few spells that are set up on my cast bars, for a few reasons.  One reason is if one of my addons runs amok and I have to heal without it.  It is a skill that all healers should work on, because we shouldn’t be so locked into our addons that we can’t function using the default UI.  It has happened to me mid-Magtheridon back in BC… scary feeling to be without control. 

Holy Spec Action Bar

Holy Spec Action Bar

In my case, I keep Beacon of Light, Divine Favor, Divine Illumination, and Holy Shock within the first 4 buttons.  Nearby, I keep Sacred Shield, Lay on Hands, Judgements of Light and Wisdom, Divine Plea, and my Aura Mastery buttons within the next few spots.  Beyond that it moves to buttons less used, such as Hammer of Justice, Hammer of Wrath, Consecrate, Holy Wrath, Exorcism, and Shield of Righteousness.  These are situational, or if I need to put out a little bit of DPS.  Following that, I have Holy Light, followed by my Seals of Light and Vengeance, Avenging Wrath and trinkets for those burn moments and then extra seals and “Every Man for Himself.” 

Now, this is only in the case of healing.  As for tanking, there’s a whole other set of buttons… but I don’t have any screenshots here, so I can’t repeat them off the top of my head, but here are the basics. 

Tanking Action Bar

Tanking Spec Action Bar

Row 1:

Shield of Righteousness, Hammer of Righteousness, Holy Shield, Hammer of Justice, Hand of Reckoning 

Row 2:

Divine Plea, Judgement of Wisdom, Judgement of Light, Righteous Defense, Divine Sacrifice 

This allows me to use my “969” rotation, and still be able to reach any extra buttons that I need.  As with my Holy action bars, the need of the buttons lessens the further down the line they go. 

Above my player frames, I have a small bar with spec specific potions.  This allows to quick access of my elixers or health/mana potions when needed. 



Lastly, I have a bar on the right side of my screen that is pretty consistent across specs, and sometimes even characters.  It is where I keep on top my profession buttons, followed by spec specific food (depends on what I’m currently spec’d), below that, is my Hearthstone and Argent Tournament Tabard (instant teleports FTW).  Below that, I have a few fun things, and then my mounts (ground on the left, flying on the right, both with random buttons to accompany them). 

Extra Action Bar

General Actions

Chat/Combat Logs:

Communication is key when playing an MMO, especially when running a dungeon or raid.  When tanking you’ll need to know when to taunt off of an offtank, and when healing you’ll need to know when the tank or OT is about to blow a cooldown.  In these cases chat windows provide important information (especially if Vent, etc. is unavailable). 

Chat Window.

Chat Window.

Also important is the Combat Log.  It is always good to look back and see what just happened during that last wipe, or what happened that sped up that last boss kill.  The combat log is where you would find this information, though it isn’t as primary a focus as the chat window would be in comparison. 

Combat Log

Mean 'ol Mr. Bigglesworth

In conclusion to help in understanding how tanks and healers interact, understanding their UI will provide a little bit of insight as to what they’re looking at, and how to get their attention when it’s needed. 

I hope to provide some more recent screenshots of my UI, and post them later.  I do plan on updating my UI, and maybe cleaning it up a little. 

Do you know what you’re tank’s UI looks like?  Do you know where they focus their attention when looking at the screen?  Same with healers?  Let me know in the comments.. though I’m sure I’ll get comments on how messy my UI is, haha.

7 thoughts on “Maintaining a Tank / Healer UI

  1. Howdy.

    I also have my UI set up for tanking and healing (and raid leading, but that’s more an add-on issue). It’s not pretty by any means, but it is fairly clean.

    In addition to Opie (as already mentioned), Bartender4 has a great feature where you can fade out bars until you mouse over them.

    On my rogue I faded them out gradually as I learned my key bindings and now they are 100% invisible. It gives my UI a really clean focused feel to it.

    Pallypower. I kinda of wish that had a drop down menu feature so it wasn’t so big and ugly. I run my tank/healer in a viewport so I turned mine sideways and it looks 10x better to me.

    I keep swearing I’m going to redo my UI, but every time I do, I find myself ripping it all down to my basic add-ons and putting everything right back where I had it.

    • I never really thought about turning my PallyPower sideways. It may help with some of the space issues on the left side of my screen. It’ll just be another learning curve to get used to moving to a different area to set buffs mid-fight (battle-rez, SS, etc.).

      I’ve been using Dominos for my Action Bars, ever since Bartender was broke when 3.2 came out, and have yet to go back. It too has a fading capability, and may be a good idea to try. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. Have you considered trying oPie out for things like mounts/pets/buffs/professions/misc that you don’t normally need access to in-combat? It’s really useful for paring down clutter, and I really like how easy to use it is.

    My UI is constantly changing. I’ll be happy with it… once day… maybe. I’m eternally tweaking and tinkering. Current incarnation is one small “main spell” bar (the stuff I have keybound and generally only like to look at because it’s reassuring) and two blocks of OH CRAP buttons with a giant grid box as my main focus near my feet. 🙂

    • Actually no, but I definitely will give it a try. It is strange though once you’ve gotten your UI set a certain way that your hands automatically move to certain areas to do certain things. In fact I can’t seem to stop myself from going to the bottom right corner of my bars to mount up (ground on the left and flying always on the right). I even get stuck with my Grid position, and the size the way it is, I can’t get used to healing across the bottom or on the left side, it always seems to have to be on the bottom right. Maybe it’s a wierd OCD thing for me, but it works, and I don’t let people die, haha.

      Like you, my GUI will never be finished, or perfected. I’m just that kind of person.

      Also, like I do for all my first commenters, thanks for the comment, and it’s an honor to have another Blogger read my stuff 🙂

      • Miss Med linked you today. 😉

        Yah, it took me a while to retrain myself (and I have some screenshots of my incredibly hideous UIs between default and current… *shudders*), but to me the natural flow up works better. Bars –> Bad Stuff –> Me –> Other People –> OMG RAID WARNINGS. Everything’s right in front of my face for the most part, and it keeps me from tunneling as bad.

        But whatever works, right? I’ve seen some UIs that just made my jaw drop with how awful they were, but the players using them were excellent, so no point in fixing something that (for them) isn’t broken.

      • I saw that and nearly messed myself. And in reply to her note (which I’ll probably comment on on her site), that wasn’t an April Fools joke, I seriously felt that way about Paladin Raid Healing, and thought about experimenting with it.

        As for my UI. I do leave the Raid Warnings blaring in my face, it helps grab me away from my little corner of the screen. I also have some PowerAuras set up for Beacon and Sacred Shield, that I keep near my focus. Again to pull my eyes away from the grid. I’ve always tried to be situationally aware anyway though.

        I have seen some UIs that are so minimalist that I can’t figure out how they do anything, but it looks so pretty.

      • I’ve been a paladin raid healer of sorts in 10-mans (paired with a Disc Priest–beacon a tank, heal the raid, save the world) and 25-mans (Sindragosa only has 1 tank at a time on the first phases, so whee raid healing)… Optimal at all times in all situations? No. Able to be done? Definitely, especially if you’re smart about how you’re using SS and the pretty little HoT on it. XD

        I tried PA and didn’t really like it, so I have my macros for Bacon and SS tied into DXE, and have the frames for those set about mid-screen.

        I don’t think I’ll ever get much more minimalist than what I’m at unless I switch to a pure DPS class (and I’m never planning on doing that again). I’ve seen people play with literally just self/target/raid frame, and have absolutely no idea how they do it.

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