Keymapping is about personal preference as much as anything. You need to be comfortable with where your abilities are, enough so that you never need to look at your keyboard while playing, and enough so that you never need to click an ability during combat. My goal in writing this is to present my own keymapping style, and what the logic behind it is. It’s not telling you how to do it, and the general “zones” I’ve created I have established over time. I highly recommend that you reconsider your own key-map if you are moving your hand all over your keyboard.
The default keymapping when you create a character for the first time uses the numeric keys 1-9, 0, – & =. I remember that’s how I started playing the game, and when I got around to adding additional action bars, I kept that formula and used modifiers for the additional action buttons; Ctrl or Shift with the numeric keys 1-9, 0, – & =.
The keys I use are as follows. As the legend indicates, red dots indicate keys that I use on their own to cast abilities, while blue dots indicate keys I use a modifier, either Shift or Ctrl to use an ability. There is obviously some overlap.
The general principle behind my keymapping is that every ability should be within reach of my hand while I rest on the movement keys. This allows me to always react as quickly as possible to anything during an encounter.
I try to maintain a certain standard across all my characters, regardless of class. My “hot zone” for my main abilities is numeric keys 1-4 as well as keys F, T and G. F is usually bound to my main or “filler” spell and is the key my index finger usually rests on. T and G are instant casts. R is also an instant cast, but this is usually a “different” function – it casts Ironbark in resto, while for just about every spec I have it’s my interrupt or silence key. Moving out of this hot zone, 5 & 6 are minor cool-downs, while my more major cool-downs (like Tranquility) are zoned towards the lower section of my keyboard – V & B.
Ctrl is usually the modifier for those lower section keys, and because my hand shifts slightly, it allows me to bring in keys like Z, X & C. These are also cool-downs, but I use these for cool-downs that aren’t a direct heal, but rather a buff (like Tree Form or a Trinket). I also use it as a modifier for keys 1-3, which are generally my damage abilities for when I need to switch into DPS mode.
Shift is used more often for survivability cool-downs and prolongation cool-downs, like Innervate, and I find it very comfortable to use modifiying Q as well as F, R, T & G.