How I learned Joomla - Darek Śnieg
Darek Śnieg is the Support Team Lead at Cloudaccess.net, the hosting company where you can launch your own joomla.com website for free. The first Joomla website he made was for an organization of former career soldiers. This was ‘a lot of fun, but also quite a challenge’, that required some creativity and some inventive moves. Darek would advise everyone who needs more than a business card website to choose Joomla: “You’ll thank me later.”
Thanks for participating in this series, Darek! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, my name's Darek, I live in a small town called Police in Poland. In my heart, I'm first and foremost a musician - I sing and I play the guitar and the bass. I even have some formal education in that field - I got my Bachelor of Arts degree in music education at the University of Szczecin.
When did you make your first Joomla website?
Oh, it must have been 2011 or 2012.
What made you choose Joomla?
It was really the beginning of my CMS journey and Joomla seemed like the perfect middleground, not being as limited as WordPress was at the time but also not as complicated as Drupal.
What did you do first, and after that?
My dad was a career soldier for over 20 years until I was born and the last unit he served in was disbanded in 2003, but the people that served there still meet and have their own organization. They had a basic HTML website which, when I saw it, made me cry blood so I just went "dad, put me in touch with whoever's in charge of that - I'll make you a better one". So he did, and I did, and the website's still online (gotta finally find the time to update it from 1.5 though… hey, I've been busy, OK? :D).
Another one I did which I'm really happy about was a new website for the Polish Panzer Battalion - the official Polish fanclub of the Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton, of which I am a member (the fanclub, not the band ;) ).
Can you describe the process of creating your first Joomla website?
It was a lot of fun, but also quite a challenge - there was a rich gallery of equipment and meeting photos they wanted to keep, so I had to organise everything in a way that would allow convenient access to each category of pictures. It required some creative use of submenus, separators and Phoca Gallery menu item types, but I did it.
What challenges did you face?
Well, I guess I already gave you the biggest challenge - the menu structure. But another one was adjusting the template - its GUI didn't allow me to do everything they wanted and to this day I don't really know much CSS, so like so many of us I spent hours with CSS files on one screen and tutorials on the other. But I managed!
How did you solve them?
By asking people with more knowledge and experience than myself and looking up online tutorials.
Where did you get help (if you needed it)?
Mostly the official Joomla forum and the front-end developers at my work. I didn't start using Facebook groups for that until much later.
What would your golden tip be for people just discovering Joomla?
Yes, the learning curve can seem a little steep when compared to, say, WP. But if you're looking to have something more than a business card type website, stick with it - you'll thank me later when you won't have to spend so much time on maintenance and making the website behave the way you do. Joomla is the perfect middleground because it's not as limiting as other CMS' but also not overkill like an FMS or intimidating like custom coding.