Meet a Joomler - Louise Hawkins
She didn’t like Joomla when she first came across it. Learning a new system in the middle of a pandemic while studying something else already was not very high on her fun list. But after Louise Hawkins dove into the documentation, took some training, discovered the Joomla User Group London and got help and support from the community on Facebook, she became more and more enthusiastic. Today she is Team Leader of the Joomla Marketing Team. Pleasure to meet you, Louise Hawkins!
Thanks for meeting us, Louise! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up just outside of Croydon, South London, and I moved to Whitstable in Kent with my husband and son in late 2003. Whitstable is a beautiful seaside town, famous for its oysters (which I don’t actually like by the way).
How did you get involved with Joomla and the J! Community?
Like many, I lost my primary employment during the pandemic. I was also completing an online Master's Degree with the Digital Marketing Institute and home-schooling my son, so it was a pretty stressful time! For my thesis, I was compiling primary research on SEO in the small business sector. I contacted an ex-colleague and friend whose husband runs a very successful company, staging and configuring handheld mobile scanning devices, politely asking if they could please complete my survey.
Now they were pretty busy during the pandemic; this was somewhat due to scanners being ruined by copious amounts of sanitiser, resulting in companies purchasing new devices that needed to be configured. However, the pandemic highlighted that we never know what's around the corner, and perhaps they should start to market themselves. The company had not updated their website in years nor engaged in any activity on its social media channels. It was suggested that I work with them as a digital marketing consultant, which I gratefully agreed to.
The first job on the list was to sort the website, which wasn't even mobile-friendly. But hang on, what the heck is it built on? What is Joomla!? I was not a complete novice concerning web design but never had come across Joomla before. I started my investigation, first observation, this is nothing like Shopify, and where the heck are pages?
I have to admit I didn't like Joomla much at first, partly because I really didn't want to have to learn something new on top of studying. After visiting the Joomla website, completing a course on OS Training, watching Tim Davis on YouTube, attending Joomla User Group London and reaching out on the Joomla Facebook page, Joomla was starting to win me over
What do you do for a day job, and if this includes Joomla, how?
I’m currently doing consultancy work which involves looking after a Joomla website with an online store. I also do the odd new website build, which is always on Joomla, and I’m just launching a new business providing affordable SEO services for small businesses.
Do you use Joomla in other ways?
The website for my new business is built on Joomla 4 using the Cassiopeia template. Being in the SEO field, performance in terms of speed is essential to me. Using Joomla 4 with Cassiopeia and styling just with some CSS, you can achieve a great-looking site with outstanding performance. https://www.oysterseo.co.uk
Are you involved in the Joomla community, apart from in your official position (for example JUGS, events, etc)?
I’m currently just involved with the marketing team, this keeps me busy enough for now.
How did Joomla change your life?
Sounds cheesy, but it really has changed my life quite a bit. Working from home and the pandemic had left me a little isolated. I wanted to connect with like-minded people, people who would motivate me. When I saw the request for Joomla volunteers on Facebook, I thought this might be what I was looking for. And I haven’t regretted it for a second!
What did you learn and / or gain personally from being a J! Volunteer?
Oh, where do I start? Firstly I have gained confidence; I have learnt new techniques in terms of graphic design, learnt a little more about the web development side and met some fantastic people who inspire me to learn more. And it's lovely to be part of a community, especially when you work solo.
How do you like your work in the marketing team? And what would make it easier or better?
I’m loving working in the marketing team, every member has different strengths, a real talented bunch! We could however do with more members so we can be really proactive with our efforts. You don’t need to be fluent in graphic design or web development, there are many activities that we could be doing to strengthen our marketing efforts, particularly in monitoring sentiment, mentions on the web, analyzing data, understanding our users' pain points and more…
Do you have a memorable Joomla-moment?
Yes, probably when I broke my clients website tinkering with the htaccess file! Fortunately the hosting provider had a one click backup restore function. The site wasn’t down for long, but of course they noticed, I mumbled something about testing disaster recovery and all was fine, phew!