Before getting to the pressing buttons part, I want to make sure your UI (User Interface) needs are met. To heal effectively you want a proper interface. One that tells you what you need to know yet cuts down on useless, overwhelming information.
A good healer knows exactly what’s happening to each person in the raid at all times as well as what their own character is doing, while following the fight.
The key to that, friends, is a proper UI.
What to Add to the Addon Shopping List?
Here’s a screen shot of my UI (click on it on few times to make it bigger). This is obviously just an example and you are free (in fact, I encourage you!) to use your imagination to build your own interface.
1- Raid Frames
Grid and Grid2 require an extra addon if you want to use the mouse to interact with the frames (Clique is the only one I’m aware of). The original Grid may require extra addons to track certain buffs and debuffs as well. For an elaborate breakdown of the major frame addons, check out Grimmtooth (the series may be a little outdated but the general gist is there).
Having tried all of the popular healing frames, I found them equally good, so go with whichever you find prettiest or whichever your friends use (so it’s easier to get answers if you have questions).
As a Holy Paladin, you want to track:
– Your Beacon of Light as well as the Beacons of other Holy Pallies in the raid (indicated separately)
– Eternal Flame
– Sacred Shield (If you are using the spell, otherwise it is optional)
– Your Illuminated Healing (Optional – nice to have but may be overwhelming)
– Range (Fade out at 40 yards)
– Aggro (Optional but helpful)
– Rezzed but not yet taken the rez (Called Resurrection on Grid2. Most players don’t track this, but I find it super helpful.)
– Fight specific buffs and debuffs (Such as Pungency on Garalon)
– Magic, Poison and Disease debuffs (Curse debuffs can be shown separately if desired)
As a side note, in the screenshot you can see the tanks on the default WoW frames. I do this in LFR to keep track of who the tanks are. I would hide the default frames in a guild raid.
2- Bar Organizer
A good bar organizer will keep your game from vomiting buttons all over your screen. If you look closely, you can see my keybound abilities on the bottom (I rebound my movement keys to ESDF and use the surrounding keys to tap abilities) and my cooldowns (mostly) on the top. My mounts, professions and others are faded out to the right of my main bars, my seals are to the left, and my system buttons (Raid Finder, Raid Journal, Character, etc) are to the top left (hidden behind the WoW frames on the screenshot).
(The screenshot was taken during a time of winter cleaning so the layout isn’t ideal – there are a couple of suboptimal buttons and even an empty space. I am still working on perfecting my bars, so please don’t copy the screenshot.)
Ideally, I would have my cooldowns larger and more in the middle of my screen, but there are so many cooldowns and so little room on the screen. I’ve just gotten in the habit of glancing at my CDs as part of my regular screen visual sweep.
3- Personal Frames (Heads Up)
While you can keep track of yourself using your raid frames, many of us find it easier to track ourselves separately. I use mine for mana and Holy Power (it shows health too, but out of habit I tend to look at my raid frames for my health).
Shown in the picture above is IceHUD, but there are a lot of options to choose from. Once again, the awesome Grimmtooth has reviewed and cataloged the main ones (again, may be a little outdated but still relevent, see Grimmtooth’s comment on this post for some updates).
I have the bars set to fade out of combat so they are hard to see, but in the left circle is my mana bar, my health bar and my pet bar (not shown). On the right side, if I had a target, you’d be able to see my target’s health and mana.
In the bottom circle is my Holy Power bar. I love the location – right on my character, above my healing frames. I always know how much Holy Power I have!
Even if you choose not to use frames for yourself, you will have to track Holy Power near the center of your screen somehow. The tiny bar at the top left of the screen is too out of the way. You’ll waste a lot of time if you extend your visual sweep all the way up there just to look at your Holy Power.
4- Scrolling Battle Text
Some players will say this is optional, but I can’t play without battle text. On the rare occasion that my addon crashes, the difference in my healing output is noticeable.
There are a lot of cool things you can do with your battle text, such as sounds for when your cooldowns come up, or when you have 3 Holy Power. You can also use it (mostly) out of the box, to keep an eye on your numbers or to notice when Beacon isn’t transferring heals.
5- Pally Power
Pally Power is truly optional, but I find it helpful for rebuffing after a rez or swapping a Seal. And it’s so small and cute that it doesn’t cause me any problems.
6- Combat Log
Not an addon, but a valuable part of an interface.
I love my Combat Log so much that I moved it to the right side of my screenkeep, separating it from my chat box. You can customize your Combat Log, but Blizzard has done a really good job fixing it up so that the default “What happened to me?” is all you really need.
It’s fantastic for diagnosing deaths (nothing sets me off more than people who don’t know what killed them…the Combat Log SPELLS IT OUT TO YOU DUMBASSES /fume), verifying damage type (physical/shadow/nature/etc) and seeing if the raid healers are slacking.
A Note on the Addon-Free School of Thought
Occasionally you’ll come across healers who refuse to use addons, for a variety of reasons. What they might not tell you, though, is that, if they are successfully healing in a competitive raid environment, they’re using other aids, like macros and optimized keybindings. If you choose to use macros instead of addons (addons are essentially, after all, pretty and precoded macros), you can heal well, however I won’t be able help you.
If you’re hesitant about adding to your game, think of it this way: designing an interface that’s both pleasant on the eyes (you’ll be staring at it a lot, it needs to be sexy) and informative is a skill in itself.
Building a super efficient UI does not take away from your talent as a player. Rather it highlights your ability by reflecting your understanding of the game and of your personal playstyle. A bad player who doesn’t know where or what to look for won’t be able to build a proper UI.
So stop worrying and start addon shopping.