How I learned to use Joomla for SEO - Joel Defort
Joel Defort is an UFO in the Joomla sphere: he didn't learn the trade but lived his passion and turned it into a profession. His particular career path has led him to SEO, a community into which he has become deeply integrated, and to do this his main tool is Joomla!
So let's share the adventure!
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in Seine-et-Marne, one hour from Paris, with my wife. Before opening my web agency, I had several jobs. I worked for a debt collection company and in car sales. I also travelled to different countries. Then I set up a hotel resort in the Seychelles, where I stayed for 7 years.
When and how did you start your career?
In 1999, at the age of 29, I started to teach myself Photoshop and various other graphic design programmes. This marked a turning point in my career. My independent learning quickly enabled me to develop solid skills in graphic design. This progression led me to land my first client for the creation of a logo. This first commission was an important milestone, launching my career in graphic design and visual communications.
How did you get into website creation and SEO ?
I took the next step by creating my first website using Microsoft FrontPage. This first project was for a client selling converters for the euro, an experience that enriched my web development skills.
Motivated by this success, I went on to develop my agency's website in HTML, consolidating my expertise in this field. At the age of 30, in 2000, I decided to go back to school to formalise my skills and learn the profession of web designer. I joined the Art-Cool school for a two-year course.
However, thanks to my advanced knowledge of imaging software such as Photoshop, I was able to accelerate my education and complete the course in just one year.
What made you choose Joomla?
Following my first successes in web design and my training in web design, a new key stage in my career was the discovery of Joomla, thanks to a friend. I was immediately seduced by this CMS, which greatly simplified the task of creating websites compared with the direct use of HTML, PHP and CSS.
This platform enabled me to develop more complex and functional sites with greater efficiency. At the same time, I frequently used Flash to integrate beautiful animations into my projects. This combination of Joomla and Flash has enabled me to offer my clients web solutions that are both aesthetically pleasing and technically advanced.
Did you start by creating a website or by working in SEO? What were your first projects?
After familiarising myself with Joomla, I started exploring the world of web SEO. Encouraged and advised by a friend who specialises in SEO, I quickly learnt the importance of optimising sites for search engines. This new skill turned out to be essential, enabling me to increase the visibility and effectiveness of the sites I was developing, and to offer a more complete service to my clients.
What challenges did you face?
Among the challenges I've had to face, the most striking has been the development of specific and complex programmes. A notable example is the creation of a programme similar in functionality to the BlaBlaCar site, but aimed at removal services, which involved added complexity. In addition, I regularly encountered challenges related to client requests, particularly when it came to modifying the functionality or layout of certain components of their websites.
How did you solve them?
To meet these challenges, I'm lucky enough to work with four colleagues. Our team is diverse and complementary, which makes us effective on a variety of projects. For more complex developments, we sometimes call on external developers, which helps us to manage all requests efficiently.
I understand that you are as much a SEO as a website designer. Do you think that Joomla is the best choice for both these aspects?
In fact, I work both as an SEO and as a website designer. When it comes to choosing Joomla or other CMS such as WordPress, it's important to understand that a site's SEO doesn't depend specifically on a CMS. As far as Joomla is concerned, it offers some really useful components for these aspects. For example, sh404, now replaced by 4SEF and 4SEO, is excellent. JSitemap is also a good tool for sitemap management, and JCH Optimize helps optimise site speed. These tools help to improve both site creation and search engine optimisation.
You are in the Joomla community for a long time, how deep is/was your involvement?
My involvement in the Joomla community has been modest. Mainly, I've contributed by talking about Joomla and sharing news about it on social networks. I also made a short video at one point. What's more, I've created a site dedicated solely to Joomla. Even if I don't think I've done much, these actions have still been my way of supporting and promoting the community.
If there was one sentence to sum up your relationship with Joomla / Joomlers, what would it be?
Joomla is an excellent CMS, the best in my eyes, and it's given me the opportunity to meet some great people in a community that's always ready to help; it's a real pleasure to work with this CMS and to be part of this dynamic community.