A quick look at guild banks.

Coming up in 2.3, there’s a new guild bank feature. It’s accessible from any bank and easily seen – it looks like a huge vault door in the bank. A few folks from our guild have been playing on the test realm to get some early experience with Zul’Aman (the new 10-man post-Karazhan raid), and while I was there I figured I’d check out the guild bank. I know a few of my friends are Guild Leaders of their respective guilds, so this might be of interest.

A guild bank doesn’t have bag slots like a player bank, but it does have the option to buy multiple tabs – up to six, at present. The prices on the test realm are punitive for more than a few tabs: the first tab is 1 gold, the second is 10g, the third is 100g, the fourth is 1,000g, the fifth is 5,000g and the sixth is 10,000g. I can’t imagine many guilds will be buying the last two tabs, not when you can still run regular banker alts to hide less-relevant items.

This is the guild bank interface after buying two bank tabs. The tabs are the ? buttons down the right hand side; the + button below the ?s is used to buy new tabs and I assume only the guild leader can see it.

You can see the tabs for the logs at the bottom of the window; unfortunately I couldn’t check out the features as clicking on either log tab immediately disconnects you from the server. Thumbs up Blizz! (Yes, okay, it’s a test server for a reason. I’m sure it won’t go live with that issue.)

I haven’t actually tried out the withdraw/deposit buttons down the bottom right; I think they’re for putting money into the bank and taking it out again.

And here we have the ugly side of guild banks. Here is the bank in use: it’s a HUGE MESS. From a usability perspective this is terrible; it means every guildie has to mouse over every single slot and check the tooltip to see what an item is. A text list in the forums is WAY easier to deal with for users (although much more of a hassle for administrators); at least then only the banker has to know what’s what, and generally will be more familiar with the items they’re holding than an average guildie.

Seriously, Blizzard, I know you’re invested in giving people interfaces full of pretty icons and no text labels, but that only works with inventories where you’re only managing 10-30 items with wildly different icons. For guild banks, with hundreds of items? Wrong design paradigm. Learn to love text labels, or better yet, text-based lists.

Until then, I long for the day someone releases a Guild Bank addon that redraws the guild bank as an operating-system-file-browser style of interface, with small icons and text labels next to them.

And on a less whingy note, here’s the interface for setting bank access permissions, based on guild rank. It’s basically fine, although I’d be happier with an option to allow people to withdraw unlimited stacks a day (eg. for officers moving things around).

I’ll be interested to see how much of this makes it into live realms without tweaking. I can’t believe Blizzard – who are normally so good with usability issues – thought that guild bank interface was a good idea.

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