[How did I begin with Joomla] Episode 5: No challenges as a female Joomla developer!
Welcome to our next episode in “How did I begin with Joomla” series!
In the previous episodes, four Joomla experts and gurus shared their own inspiring story about their participation in Joomla community and advice for how to get started with Joomla easier.
Here, in this month episode, we’d like to share with you a story from our first Joomla female expert, Laura Gordon. She is a website owner of www.rytechsites.com, trainer at www.lynda.com, and website designer/ marketing at ThrillCoaster Tours. You can view Laura’s full profile via LinkedIn @rytechsites or visit her websites to know more about her.
Now let’s enjoy her inspiring and unique insights plus extra helpful advice for Joomla users interested in the field.
1. Could you please tell me how you began with Joomla? What made you fall in love with Joomla?
I started with Joomla in 2004 when my son's nursery school needed a website. Initially, I was going to build an HTML static site, but a friend introduced me to Joomla, explaining that the nursery school director would be able to edit her own content, and I was sold.
After building the Nursery school website, I built my first 'large' website, Springfield Public Library. I fell in love with Joomla, because I was amazed that on my own, with very little programming experience I was able to build a Library Website! I have since done 3-4 iterations of this same website, and now sfplnj.org has a beautiful Joomla 3.5 website and is loving what they are able to do with it.
It was around 2006 that I went to my first Joomla user group meeting in NYC. I was invited by Gary Mort, and there I met Mitch Pirtle, Marion Konop, Scott Wolpow, Donna Marie Vincent, Mark Simko and others that would help guide me through their experience though Joomla.
Between what I was able to do technically with a Library website, Yoga studio, nursery school, and a camp fair websites, then the social aspect from the user group meetings, I was hooked! I also saw back then this could be more than just a 'part time job' as a stay at home mom, but a 'real' job.
2. As far as we know, you are a teacher, speaker, and website developer who focuses on content management systems, specifically Joomla. Could you please share with us more details about your tasks?
Over the past 10 years I have built between 60-100 websites on my own...not sure of the exact count. On a regular basis I'm usually building 2-3 websites at one time, plus maintaining / managing dozens of others. Each day can be broken down by development work for a new website or an upgrade, phone calls to clients for troubleshooting, or training.
My development work can include data analysis as I'm determining the best way to get data into a system (book lists, user lists, etc). I also spend time doing design work for either my new clients or those that I'm upgrading.
I tend to only do content work for brand new clients, while we are building the site. My goal is always to train my clients to manage their own content. By having regular calls, I'm always driven by figuring out better ways for them to display and work with their information, depending on what they are trying to do.
3. What challenges have you experienced as a female developer?
I have not had any challenges at all as a female developer. My mom has been in the Info Technology field since the 1960s, so she has taught me well.
It is also an interesting question, the same one that I was asked when I was interviewing colleges to attend in 1989. Syracuse business school asked me, 'How do I feel as a woman performing so well on my Math portion on my SATs and so poorly on my English'...I was taken aback by that question...so much that I fired back at them....'How do you feel as an institution that is ranked at a similar level to Delaware, but you are asking me to pay twice as much to attend'...why should I pay that?' Their response was 'because we have good sports teams'...well I don't play sports...by the way I did get into Syracuse and Delaware's business programs, but I choose the School of Management at University of Massachusetts and received a degree in Marketing.
Another experience while I was working at EDS (Electronic Data Systems, yes Ross Perot's old company), while in Dallas I was told my skirt was too short (which it wasn't by any means), I was 'distracting' to the other students (as an aside, I'm 5'2, and very 'regular', not a distraction)...Instead of getting angry, I took it as a compliment and decided to use my 'woman hood' to my advantage.
It is my responsibility to look good and professional, present myself well and most importantly outperform everyone else technically, that way there are never any questions asked…
4. What has been most surprising to you about this career path?
I would say the friends and connections that I have made through the Joomla community. Every Joomla Day that I attend, I always meet a new and interesting person that is also trying to achieve something in this very difficult field.
I'm also amazed every day by my clients. I am literally 'wowed' by their determination and hard work, without them my sites would be meaningless. My best clients are those that love their businesses/organizations so much that they will do anything to get the word out. I just 'guide them' technically..they are the ones who bring their websites to 'life'.
5. If you could offer advice to any Joomla coder/developer who just getting into the field, what would it be?
Always try for that new client, and if you are unsure, try anyway. Keep realistic goals for yourself, both financially, and time...manage your time well and you will do fine.
Stay up to date with Joomla, join a user group in your area...if we continue to share our successes and failures we will all get better. Competition brings us to build a better product, always!
Many user groups now have virtual meetings, so it is out there! Visit Meetup and search for Joomla. Our User group meetings in NJ (JoomlaUsersNJ.com), are virtual and so are the ones in Connecticut.
Great piece! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Laura!
What is your Joomla story?
Though Joomla! Community’s been overwhelmed by gentlemen, it is still one of the most widely-used content management systems available to all sorts of people. It’s not a matter of gender or age, but above all, a love for Joomla and a goodwill of building Joomla community to be stronger.