Technique for PHP Developers: UX friendly string management

A presentation on how to let UX designers manage UI text without modifying code

Photo of the GTA PHP meetup attendees - March 2013

One of my favourite meetup groups in Toronto is the GTA PHP group. This month I was honoured to be able to give a presentation to the group about technical strategy and its impact on UX. I chose to discuss one of my favourite issues – that of string management. ‘Strings’ is the technical term for the words that appear in user interfaces.

This presentation is a slightly geekier version of the one I did at Drupalcon Denver in 2012. I wasn't sure if the whole dimension of UX would appeal to this group that is primarily comprised of developers or if the technical aspects would be ‘technical enough’. But, as is the case with every good developer I’ve known, they do of course care about UX and the material we covered seemed to hit the mark. I was even asked to present the talk again at the annual PHP conference which will take place in the fall.

So if you want to understand what User Narratives are and how to take on the task of string management to support the needs of UX designers and ultimately improve end user experiences, check out the video. Here's a breakdown of the content segments

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 2:06 Objectives of the presentation
  • 5:45 3 UX fundamentals
  • 8:30 Case study details
  • 9:55 Usability testing notes and observations
  • 15:15 About Idioms
  • 15:50 About Roles
  • 19:45 Understanding User Narratives
  • 24:20 String Theory 101 (basics)
  • 26:35 String Theory 201 (internal and external strings and the t() function)
  • 31:50 An alternative approach
  • 35:10 Summary

Thanks to Peter Meth (@mrpmeth), Chris Hartjes (@grmpyprogrammer) and Vic Metcalfe (@v_metcalfe) for their great work in organizing the GTA PHP Group and to Instaclick for providing the meeting room.