How I learned Joomla - Alison Meeks
If there is one person you can ask for help, it is Alison Meeks. When she knows and can come and help, she is the first to say yes, especially if it's about Joomla: She admits herself: she hardly knows how to say no!
That's why she was appointed to the Joomla Social Media Team - Team Leader, Admin on the Facebook No Spam group (among others).
And that's also why we asked her how she learned Joomla: we knew that with her legendary kindness she wouldn't refuse us anything!
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in Guelph, Ontario in Canada and am single with no kids. I own AM Graphix which is celebrating 20 years. I provide complete website management and design services to my clients. My business allows me to be able to work from my home office which, due to mobility challenges, was one of my original reasons to go on my own. My background is in the corporate world. Marketing/purchasing and further back fleet management and inventory management.
When did you make your first Joomla website?
I first started learning Joomla in November 2006 and, as we do, I was practicing on my own website.
What made you choose Joomla?
I was introduced to Joomla via a chance introduction when visiting my computer store. I may have found Joomla by accident but have continued to use it on purpose. The flexibility Joomla gives me as a website designer is important. I was previously using NetObjects Fusion (NOF) to build websites but was finding it limiting. Joomla allowed me, and continues to allow me, to expand my client offerings.
What did you do first, and after that?
After deciding to add Joomla to my offerings, I went to my first client consultation. I asked my client all the questions (I thought) - are you looking to expand your site in time, do you want to self manage it etc. No and no, a static site will be fine. OK so I built the static site on NOF. Not too long after that all the things she said she didn’t want, it turned out she did want and a rebuild was required. That was the turning point for me. Every site thereafter was built on Joomla so I never had to run into that situation again.
What challenges did you face?
Learning about this powerful new tool. I signed up for Barry North’s email list and bought his book, and searched the web. It was going along pretty well and I was picking up the code structure to do the things I needed. Then things went sideways. After an emergency surgery I came back from the anesthetic and found all the progress I had made in coding to be gone. I’m not sure what happened but something did as I’ve not been able to get that same level of breakthrough since.
How did you solve them?
I learned to work around things and use my problem solving skills and creative ways to use Joomla to find different solutions. For a long time I leaned on extensions to do the heavy lifting. With the growth of Joomla over the years I’ve fine tuned things down to fewer extensions and more core.
Where did you get help (if you needed it)?
I eventually found the Joomla Users Group in Toronto in 2012 and the amazing people there. That was a huge jump in my Joomla life. It was during a JUG that I got to meet Jen Kramer who I had been following on FB and been learning from her book and other training materials. I became involved in helping organize meetups etcetera, with them and in turn with helping admin the JUG Toronto FB group which is where Radek Suski found me and brought me into the FB Joomla No Spam group where I’m still an admin today. The FB No Spam group along with many Joomla friends, too many to name, continue to help me and others continue to learn and grow. I in turn share what I know with others.
You are well-known in the Canadian and international community, what is/was your involvement?
I became known in the Toronto community with the JUG there and then internationally with my involvement in the Facebook group 2012/2013 but soon after joined the Social Media Team and in 2014 became assistant team lead. I became the team lead in 2017 and was until October 2020 when I handed over the lead to Hans van der Meer. I stayed on the team until we all stepped down at the end of 2022. As Eric Lamy put it during the closing meeting of Forum for the Future, “the social media team is the voice of Joomla”. It was a huge responsibility and one we all took very seriously! I am still doing some graphics for them as well as some other support.
Hey, did you know the Social Media Team is looking for volunteers? I am currently taking a bit of a break until I find another place to volunteer in our vibrant community.
Do you take part in any events?
My first Joomla & Beyond was in Prague where I got to meet so many Joomla heroes of mine. I was blessed to also attend JAB Barcelona & Krakow, as well as the Joomla Forum for the Future in January 2020, prior to the lockdown. It was at the Forum that my social media team got to meet together for the first time. We worked together every day for years and many of us had never met in person. What a treat that was.
I also attend online events like JDayUSA that just happened in April, and I often will pop into virtual JUG’s from all over when I am able and time allows.
If there was one sentence to sum up your relationship with Joomla / Joomlers, what would it be?
Joomla and Joomlers are like family. So many dear friends all over the world.
What a great interview with Alison! I tried to rate it 5 star but somehow it became 4,5 and I’m not able to change it 😅