Interview with PLT member Jessica Dunbar
Today I’d like to introduce Jessica Dunbar — a famous Joomla! contributor, Joomla! Production Leadership Team (PLT0 member, Joomla! marketing lead, online marketer, speaker, system administrator and a lovely mom. She is also into SEO, strategy management, start-ups development and also works for a web agency in Milwaukee. We have had a talk about Joomla!, marketing strategy and about other subjects. So, here we go!
Jessica, let’s start from the beginning. How did you come to Joomla, and why did you get involved in the Joomla community?
I started in the medical field. I was hired as a nurse in the ER. I was constantly troubleshooting this legacy email system for the hospital staff. That led me to change my major to network administration. I finished school with a computer science degree and a minor in network engineering. To pay for college expenses I earned a living off Ebay. With a bit of competitive research, descriptive titles, and detailed descriptions, I learned how to optimize my listings to increase the final purchase price. Ebaying is what let me to the web, search engine optimization, and marketing. I eventually needed more than a static HTML website, and that is how I found Joomla. After completing my first Joomla project, which included a customized version of jCal Pro, I needed to learn more about Joomla. I attended Joomla Day Las Vegas, and returned home awe-inspired.
A new router is on its way... Do you have any information about which Joomla version it will be released in?
I’ve been following the discussion closely. I don’t think it will make it into 3.4, but anything can happen since beta hasn’t released yet.
To make a Joomla website SEO friendly, web-masters perform “magic tricks” using 3rd party extensions. From a marketing point of view, how does Joomla SEF features compare with other CMS’s?
First of all, SEO is to Joomla, what Aaron Rodgers is to the NFL - MVP!
Understand your content management system: Be familiar with how content is displayed on your web site. The most important part of SEO is understanding how the CMS produces URL's.
Blogs, forums, and related systems often show the same content in multiple formats, otherwise known as duplicate content.
For example, a blog entry may appear on the homepage of a blog, in an archive page, and in a page of other entries with the same label.
Duplicate content is common in all CMS’s.
Knowing that Joomla produces URLs from the menu system can help you minimize duplicate content. The only extension I install is Sitemap Pro for Joomla. On Wordpress I use Yoast, because it offers microdata, something Joomla does out of the box. At my current employer we use Concrete5. We optimize the CMS by customizing how titles are generated, and other customizations that we need for SEO.
Some components (com_links, com_contact) will be excluded from the following versions of Joomla because of minor relevance. Do you think they will be replaced with must-have features (i.e. component to build a sitemap)?
Joomla has great plans for the future of the CMS. You can read about the improvements we are planning on the CMS roadmap found here. I feel that 3rd party extension developers should continue to create solutions for sitemaps, and other “must haves”.
Among all of the projects and websites you have worked on, which one is the most dear to you?
My day job is mostly sys admin duties. It’s my job to provide a stable and secure environment for our clients and developers. We host a major airport website in Milwaukee that has unique technology. The website has real time flight arrival and departure information, and real time parking lot availability.
What is your favorite Joomla Story?
HAHA! Whenever you are with Chad Windnagle there’s always an adventure. We were both speaking at Joomla Day Boston. We left for the venue in a little bit of a rush. Chad used his iPhone for directions to Microsoft. We arrived at Microsoft, and it was oddly empty while we walked around. We took the elevator to the 4th floor and found a conference and assumed it was our conference. While I went to the breakfast buffet, Chad started talking to some of the attendees. He discovered we were at the wrong conference, and the wrong Microsoft building. We were trying to leave but got turned around in the building. Then I noticed men in black suits were following us. Before they had a chance to talk to us, we had found the exit, and we were on our way to the correct Microsoft building.
What would you like all newcomers, developers, and enthusiasts planning to contribute in the Joomla community to know?
I get the feeling that the general notion is that Open Source is just about code and commits. Put another way, "If you don't make commits for a project you are not contributing to it." Or so they say. That is far from the truth in my eyes. Reporting bugs, marketing, design, and 100 other things are contributions to Joomla.
Be prepared for awesomeness. There’s something very addicting about contributing to the Joomla project. Last year we had a marketing meeting on my birthday, my team members each sang happy birthday in their own language. I’ve experienced Dawali during a meeting. Most importantly, I’ve met my best friends by becoming part of the Joomla Community.