How I learned Joomla - Eoin Oliver
Eoin Oliver can’t really remember when he made his first Joomla website, but he does remember that it was a very cool one, and how amazed he was to have professional software to build it with. He played around with several different systems before he decided to go with Joomla.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Eoin. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Eoin, I’m 39, I was born and raised in the UK, on the border of East London and Essex in a place called Chigwell.
My mum has a spelling disability called being Irish. Dad is English, but he’s dyslexic so he can't spell either. I’ve always been impressed by mum’s wit in giving us all silly names.
I run a small web agency called Square Balloon, but we’ll probably be rebranding soon. That’s been around since 2008, unlike my initial hopes, I’m not yet a millionaire. We design and develop websites and almost all of this stuff is in Joomla, except things like HTML email templates for obvious reasons.
My aims are to buy a house, have kids, and have a dog. I like most sports and have a ticket for all of the Arsenal matches, I also like skiing and motorsports. I would like to race more cars than I have and also break a 10 minute lap on the Nurburgring.
When did you make your first Joomla website?
I think in around 2010 maybe, but I can’t really remember. I made a cool real estate website using Joomla 1.5 and using a Joomla 1.0 component with legacy mode turned on.
What made you choose Joomla?
I tried quite a few different CMS at the time. DotNETNuke, WordPress, and quite a few others. I didn’t really get along with the Windows servers and I think I read they weren’t as good as Linux. I found some free space on a site called 100mb or something and built a Joomla site. I preferred it to the others, so that’s where my journey started.
What did you do first, and after that?
Initially I just built websites. It was amazing having professional software that people could log into and update their own content. Clients were surprised at the quality I provided which was solely down to Joomla, not my skill.
Then I found the RocketTheme Mission Control template and started styling the admin to be branded. Now it was still Joomla but it felt more like mine.
Eventually I attended a user group, Joomla! London. I got on well with Gary Barclay and he really encouraged me to explore more of the development side. I just didn’t understand it but his tutelage really helped me to progress. Every now-and-then I am able to help him with something nowadays, but mainly he helps me still. Without him and Joomla! London I would have been stuck so I really was very lucky and I’m very grateful for Gary’s help. Since then I’ve been helped by people like Adam Melcher and seen other people’s way of doing things and helping and that’s why I try to release tutorial videos.
I think Joomla has so much scope but a lot of the barrier to entry is there are beginners and experts and sometimes it feels like there is nobody to help the beginners to become experts. Developers can be very hard to deal with and write answers like “just do this” without really taking the time to explain how to do the thing they’re showing. It’s easy for them, and it’s easy for the other person, but the other person doesn’t think it’s easy. A short explanation of some things would help them to get there.
In my opinion this is how to grow Joomla’s fanbase. Make it easier to be an expert.
Can you describe the process of creating your first Joomla website?
I can barely remember it, but my cousin needed a real estate website. So that's what I did. I used a component from Mosets who also built Mosets Tree which is another good component.
What challenges did you face?
Learning the menu system was the first challenge. Learning how the structure of Joomla works. I almost feel like if you explain how the URLs are built that will give people a much better understanding of why the menus work the way they do. So that will be a tutorial video of mine.
How did you solve them?
I used the forum a lot at first. I still have a massive problem with asking for help, but it’s really useful and you can learn a lot from others' mistakes. I prefer Joomla Stack Exchange now. And Gary. I can’t tell you how helpful Gary has been! I recommend the entire Joomla Community sends him a DM asking for help. Tell him I sent you.
What would your golden tip be for people just discovering Joomla?
Join a user group.
Be polite when asking for help. And don’t blame Joomla! A lot of the community have been using Joomla for a long time. Know your audience, they won’t think Joomla is awful or hate Joomla. In fact a lot of the people you are asking for help are Joomla experts because they have been on Joomla teams or written the code. Don’t agitate them. Write your question in a neutral way and assume it is your fault, not the software or the community’s fault. Being humble with your question will get you LOADS more help. And if you do get help, pay it forward, help others too. That will buy you a lot of good will.
Thank you, Anja, for this article, and this series. As a beginner in Joomla, the beginnings are a hot topic in my mind, and it is encouraging to see how others began, the challenges they experienced, and their pathway(s) to overcoming them. Eoin referred to one specific challenge learning the menu structure and the link with building URLs. I look forward to his video, and more articles in the 'How I learned Joomla' series.