My previous posts in this series have been pretty technical, so for the last two posts I’d like to tone it down and focus on some bigger-picture ideas. This post is about re-thinking how users interact with your theme or plugin.
Prepare your theme/plugin for translation
Do you think your theme users all speak the same language? Think again. As worldwide WordPress usage continues to grow so will the number of users likely to make use of that wonderful theme you just created. Do you need any more encouraging? How about explosive growth in Internet usage in Asia and the Pacific islands. Now, I’m not saying you need to learn 20 languages and translate your theme all on your own (though you could). There are plenty of people out there who are willing to translate your theme as long as you’ve made an effort to follow some WordPress best practices.
WordPress offers a few functions to get your theme or plugin ready for translation and it takes very little effort on your part. Shannon Smith did an excellent touching on almost everything you needed to know about WordPress i18n (that’s internationalization) but I’d like to go over a few things with you. You should use these functions for every hard-coded string in your files. Here’s a simple example:
__( 'Read more', 'textdomain' );
Let’s break this down. ‘Read more’ is the sting you want to translate and ‘textdomain’ is the, we’ll, text domain. It tells WordPress which language files to load. Usually you will change ‘textdomain’ to something unique to your theme/plugin.
I don’t want to spend too long on this topic because there’s still much more to cover. WordPress i18n could take up an entire blog to cover. I just wanted to get you interested.
Make your theme play nice with mobile devices
I don’t know much about you but I can tell you that your site has been viewed on a mobile device. More than once. What did those visitors see? Did they have to pinch, pan and curse just to view your content? If so, you should be converting your site to a responsive design. Now. Not tomorrow. How can you argue with the great Ethan Marcotte? And with the ever-increasing growth of mobile web usage I don’t see how you could continue with a ‘desktop-only’ experience on your site.
That’s all I’m going to say on the subject. It’s 2013. Get with the program.
Create great experiences on the backend
As WordPress continues to grow as an application framework the complexity of the back end will grow along with it. As the director of UI engineering for 10up, Helen Hou-Sandi has brought sanity to what could otherwise be mass chaos for the solutions 10up creates for its clients.
While it’s so easy to be content with the structures built into WordPress, let us all learn from the examples Helen showed us at WordCamp San Francisco. For structured data create meta boxes and fields for easy entry. Make it easy for users to find the content they are looking for by customizing the post lists. When you have the privilege to create plugins that change a great deal of how WordPress operates, push yourself to make custom admin screens that provides the user an exceptional experience. You’ll likely learn new technologies such as AJAX in the WordPress admin and Backbone.js, making you a well-rounded developer.
Do you have other ideas? Share them in the comments.