“The Older – the More Mature.The More Mature – the Better.” – Interview with Mike Veeckmans

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There’s something endlessly fascinating about conversations. When we read insights that really come up into hand and inspire us, it can be an unforgettable experience. But most of the time, CMS talks not. Here’s why.

Almost all of us, at some point or another, find ourselves having to speak to a pro. But who can deliver us such a chance? Well, first up, it is not about the right words (although those play a part). It is much more about professionalism, and when it is delivered right it can change those who are reading forever.

No matter what CMS problem you might be facing, we’ve got today a pro insight. Here are some ideas of a Joomla! Marketing Lead, Joombiz Manager and, simply put, Joomla! addict Mike Veeckmans, to think over. Even though Mike is a Joomla! expert, the same CMS principles apply to other platforms. If you’re stuck, just read this interview on less than 7 minutes and take it into your site game 😉

Big thanks for agreeing to this interview, Mike. As long as this year Joomla! has turned 10 years, is it like wine – the older, the better?

The older, the more mature. Not only the software, but also the community, the people, everything… and of course the more mature, the better.

What is your story with Joomla!? Over the years you’ve met many knowledgeable and fun people working for the same cause. Looking back, do you agree that these days your life would be incomplete without Joomla!? Has it been woven into the threads of your day-to-day routine?

My story goes back to 2005, when I first got to know Joomla! right after the fork from mambo. We were looking for a CMS system within open source spirit, we worked with mambo before for 2 sites and afterwards we switched to Joomla! for almost all of our projects. At the beginning, were just using Joomla, it took me till 2012 to get really active within the community. Radek Suski and I met online, started talking about Joomla! and that year I went to my very first Joomladay, Poznan Poland. Ever since that day, I try to visit as many J-days as possible. In May 2014, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, I started presenting myself on J-days. During all those years already I met a lot of people, the hard-core Joomla! addicts, and I’m honoured to call them my friends. Some became real good friends! In 2013, I closed down my old business, an IT & Web company, ever since I’ve been focussing on Joomla!, even travelling the world for Joomla!. It has been a live changing decision, without a second of regrets. Today I’m leading the Marketing Work Group for Joomla!, it’s an awesome contributing job!

It’s not a secret that nowadays there’s more and more people gravitating towards Joomla! CMS. As Joomla! expert, what makes this platform stand from the other ones? What is so intoxicating about the platform that has turned you to become “J-addict”?

There are a lot of factors that makes it so intoxicating. My personal favor is the community, worldwide, we don’t look at religion, race, believe, class, we all share 1 passion and that is Joomla! But of course for a lot of people the community is not the reason why they became a J-addict. If I look back and forth, some of the main reasons are the usability, the possibility to extend, the ease of design and customization, user-friendly, a huge support base…

Truth be told, Joomla is not the easiest CMS to operate. What can you advice to those who’s just kickstarted their career with Joomla? What are the very first “must-do” after launching a Joomla-website?

True, Joomla! has a certain learning curve, but don’t all CMS have that? There are a lot of tutorials online, a lot of e-learning resources, the fora on forum.joomla.org itself… You can learn so much if you dive in for a couple of days… But also very important, never stop learning, i learn new stuff about joomla each day, for example the last thing i learned is the use of J-layouts, although it’s not new…

The very first thing to do after launching a Joomla! site? there are some public checklists available, but now that you ask that question, the idea of providing a general checklist from within the community is getting formed.

Are there any typical mistakes that beginners stumble upon? What could you personally advice to the fresh-coming users?

Most typical problems/mistakes beginners stumble upon are in my opinion

  • Install: faulty install or not enough knowledge to install on a LAMP environment, and especially the connection towards the database. If your having problems with this, contact your host, they’ll have the answer.
  • Menu setup: i see a lot of people that have questions on how the menu works, not even speaking on multilingual sites now, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll learn you can do amazing stuff with the menu’s.
  • SEF: still a lot of people stumble upon the use of SEF correctly, it’s probably combined with the use of menu’s.
  • Custom design: Joomla! has a lot of template clubs, which is good, it opens up Joomla for non-designers, but also gives the a problem, how to customise those templates? As a non-designer it might give some problems in the beginning, but as said before, with a certain learning curve you will be able to do it yourself in a good way.

Joomla provides a huge amount of extensions at the official Joomla Directory. Do you have any favourite set that you can’t work without while using this CMS? What are the top 5 ones?

Of course, i think each sitebuilder has some favourites. My personal Top 5? Akeeba Backup ( a must ! ), Akeeba Admin Tools ( in my opnion also a must ), JCE-editor and plugins,  X-map, RS-forms for custom forms. The first 4 are used on every site i make…

Having the experience of a marketing Joomla team lead, did you face any difficulties cooperating with this brand? Are there any CMS drawbacks that you hide with your professional advertising tricks? What are the top 3 misconceptions connected with this CMS?

The MWG (Marketing Work Group) is a huge Team, with people from all over the world , which is great, but also makes it hard to meet with everybody. Even if we meet online, timezones often are a pain to deal with. All the documentation and files from the MWG are public, so we don’t have anything to hide. We encourage everybody to contribute, even if you don’t have a marketing backbone, your point of view might be interesting for us. As I rolled in the lead position rather quick, i had some problem in the beginning to get everything ordered, to get the right connections within the community… But as time passes I starting to get a grip on it, and now i can go full throttle again. The 3 misconceptions?

  • Unsecure: Joomla had TFA as first… Of course it depends also on the complexity of your passwords, usernames… If you just put admin / password as your super user login, guess, even an 8 year could get through your “security” … Also the permissions given on your hosting platform are important , but that’s not just for Joomla, that’s for all CMS .
  • Hard to migrate, nearly impossible… Yes, we have had a bad reputation on that in the past, migrating 1.x to 2.x was going through a hell, migrating 2.x to 3.x still had some issues most of the time with templating and out of date extensions. But we’re getting there, i’m sure future migrations will go much smoother as we learn from our past.
  • A third one? I really have to think hard to find one…

What Joomla features would you like to add or fix? What points should the platform focus on in it’s further perspectives?

Integrated Google analytics, twitter card, Facebook OG, .. all marketing stuff , that would be nice, don’t you think? As we have a very wide user base, designers, developers, sitebuilders, … i think we can’t just focus on 1 thing, we have to listen to our user base and implemented bundled requests… However don’t forget, we are a community of volunteers, so it might take some time before brand new features are added in.

In our time Joomla is recognized as one of the most popular and widely-used CMS around the world and a lot of users want to migrate to this platform. Have you experienced website migration?

Yes, we migrated some other CMS to Joomla!, some are easy, especially when the old CMS is purely content without any extensions or ‘specials’. When extensions (or whatever it might be called in the other CMS) are in play, it gets a bit harder, also depends on the client. Do they want an exact copy of their current site, are they open for minor changes, what about the workflow in the backend, can you maintain that or even better simplify it… ? There are always a lot of things to keep in mind when migrating sites. Whoever says he can migrate a complex site within a few days, I’ll give you a challenge 😉

We’ve come up to the last question. What would be your closing words, perhaps, any suggestion to Joomla! lovers?

Yeah, Spread the Joomla! Love !

aisite wants to thank Mike for the talk that touched us. 

We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with CMS migration. If you decide to go for a convert and do not want to spend hours on copy-pasting, consider doing this via aisite. It will save your time and money. Surprised why money? Hiring an expert would cost more 😉

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