“The Future Is Bright – and We Are the Artizans of That Future” – interview with Dénes Székely

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Today it’s our pleasure to introduce an interview with Dénes Székely –  the owner of webGobe and a well known Joomla expert. Dénes has 10+ years of experience working with this CMS and luckily he agreed to share his opinions on a range of Joomla related topics with us. Enjoy the interview and feel free to leave your name in the comments section.

Joomla has risen up as the dominant platform. As Joomla expert, what makes it stand from the other CMSs?

The versatility and the relative ease to use. I have a great example – one of oldest sites I built (initially in Joomla 1.0) is managed without real support by a 80+ old (he was 79 when we started) Franciscan monk, without any formal IT knowledge.

How did you get into Joomla? When did you realize that this CMS might become an essential part of your life? What is Joomla for you these days?

I started  with in the old Mambo times, when searched for a CMS capable to handle my needs (multilanguage website, easy to maintain). Felt in love with almost instantly. When the fork happened, and the Joomla was founded I was among the first ones to support them – and to switch to Joomla.

Since this is my main tool for building websites (and I build them on conveyor belt 😉 ). Since I released (for free) 50+ smaller or bigger Joomla addons, hacks/enhancements for Joomla components, I am maintaining the joomla-tips.org freely available tips site – and I am supporting the project with what I can (posts, comments, etc.)

Joomla is part of my way of life, I can say.

Is Joomla your first recommendation or is there any other platform you prefer more than Joomla? Except Joomla, which CMS would you prefer using right now?

Joomla is on the top. For users with simple needs I recommend eventually WordPress as a simpler solution. But anything goes beyond plain blogging will get the recommendation from me to be done in Joomla.

Truth be told, Joomla requires a bit of training to get started and operate it properly. What can you advise the Joomla newbies? What are the first 5 steps after starting a site on Joomla CMS?

  1. Install the Demo data
  2. Play with
  3. RTFM
  4. Ask around – Joomla community is huge and helpful
  5. Don’t despair. The learning curve is step – but the reward is huge.

What are the most common beginners’ mistakes when they start working with Joomla? What’s your piece of advice to Joomla newbies who are just at the beginning of their Joomla path?

People tend to expect something very easy to use. Joomla has made big steps towards this. But no one can expect that a F1 racing car to have only a steering whell and 2 pedals/3buttons. The power and versatility comes at a price.

Prepare for some learning. And play with the system. Now you can even get – for free – a Joomla playground at the project’s site. Use the opportunity!

And don’t try to do everything at once. Start with something simple, then add things to it. And don’t expect to build the killer site in the first week after you meet Joomla…

What are your tips for any budding Joomla developer? How can they benefit from building the sites with Joomla?

If you understand the Joomla philosophy, you can build in quick and effective manner new sites. Don’t get fooled by different frameworks – those aren’t for real developers, but for weekend webmasters. With even the best of them a serious developer will quickly hit the wall of limitations.

Same applies for the templates: use a commercial template ONLY if the demo look is close to what you need. I mean REALLY close. Otherwise you will end up with more work, than if you would started building it from scratch.

There are benefits of using these, of course. And some will argue with me, without doubts. But this is what I learned on my skin in these 10+ years since I am playing with.

Collect your preferred solutions – you can reuse them later. Read the manuals, the official forums, and contribute – even with bug reports, questions. Joomla pays back if you take care of him!

Joomla is currently recognized as one of the most popular and trusted CMS with more and more people willing to migrate their sites to this platform. Do you have the experience of a website conversion?

Yes, I converted to Joomla all sorts of sites, from plain HTML to other CMSes, like Drupal, WordPress, hosted solutions, like Shopify, standalone carts (Magento, Prestashop).

What are your suggestions/recommendations on making the migration process successful? What’s your view on using automated converter like CMS2CMS?

Prepare and plan. Don’t jump in without that. Use the available tools, if any, but don’t take the results granted. Each tool have some limitations – and can have unexpected side effects. Prepare to manually finish/correct the import errors.

You can migrate a simple site by hand, but when we are talking about dozens or even hundreds of them, you must use something to handle the gross part of the job.

Do you think that it’s of crucial importance to keep the same design when migrating across CMS solutions?

Depends… if it’s a relatively new site or the owner would like to preserve the original look and feel, maybe. But in my experience saving the SEO assets is much more important, than the look. More, most of my clients uses the opportunity to gain a fresher, more modern look.

So, overall, I think that keeping the original look is not too important.

There are thousands of extensions available at the official Joomla Directory. What are Top 5 extensions you can’t afford to miss out every time you configure a Joomla website and why?

  1. Akeeba Backup – a must have safety net
  2. JCE Editor – the best editor for Joomla for years
  3. A security tool – I have 2 top favorites, RS Firewall and Akeeba Admin Tools – it’s a tie game ;), but generally I use a mix of tools for security, so can’t highlight only one
  4. sh404SEF  – if you care about your site’s SEO performance. Extensible and stable. But the importance of using it began to fade, the core Joomla is performing better every day on this regard.
  5. xMap/OS Map for same reasons. These days you can’t have a good site withouth both user “readable” HTML sitemap and an XML sitemap geared towards searchengines (Google and co.)

Thanks for hanging out with us. Any closing words about Joomla’s future?

The future is bright – and we are the artizans of that future. The entire Joomla project is built by community (more or less) to the community. I plan to use it at least as many years I used it already.

A huge thank you to Denes for his time, thoughts and experience sharing with us.

P.S. Left with a strong desire to switch to Joomla? Then look no further than CMS2CMS automated migration service to perform the conversion as seamless and error-free as possible. Find more detailed information here and try your Demo Migration  without any delay.

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Valentyna Tysiachna

Music/English/Life lover|Ukrainian student|MagneticOne Internet-marketer|
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