As #JWC17 approaches Hugh Douglas-Smith caught up with keynote speaker Chiara Aliotta and talked through her perspective on Joomla! and Design in general.
If you have looked at the imagery and design of the JWC website then you have already seen some of Chiara’s outstanding work, her designs have been commissioned by many international organisations and we as the Joomla! community are eternally grateful that she provides her time and services to the project.
Chiara, tell us something about yourself:
I am an Italian designer and founder of Until Sunday, a multidisciplinary design firm focused on branding and visual communication. For as long as I can remember, I have been extremely good at visualizing concepts and communicating them. When I started my studies in design, my dream was to design toys and books for children. I think this heavily influenced my very colourful and playful style and the way we work at Until Sunday.
I love being a designer. It is so aligned with my natural way of thinking. With my digital products I like to create functional interfaces surrounded by beauty, colour, typography and details.
Of course there are also things that pull at my enthusiasm, like meetings without an agenda and last-minutes changes that push deadlines further. For this reason I do my best to guide my own clients to follow a specific process of exploration of the problem so that we can find a strategic solution together. In this way we can all avoid painful last-minutes decisions that needlessly increase work hours, costs and pressure on both sides.
What is your background with respect to Joomla! and how did you start using it?
My relationship with Joomla! happened by accident in 2009, when I started working for a company in Athens and they used Joomla! for their clients’ websites. At that time my boss proposed that I designed the first Joomla! magazine. It was while working on this that I came to realise Joomla! was more than a single piece of software, but a whole worldwide community of people supporting the vision and mission of the project. As part of this I came across people like: Paul Orwig, Dianne Henning, Brian Teeman, Alice Grevet… I remember wanting to meet some of them so much!
The opportunity came in 2010 when Robert Deutz and Brian Teeman invited me to design the first J and Beyond website. I decided to attend the conference and submitted a talk called “You only like me for my body” (it was about the use of typography on the web!!!). Meeting and getting to know some of the Joomla! members in person. It was an exciting moment!
Many years and few more volunteer projects later, the community elected me Joomla! Brand Manager. I was asked to create a consistent and strong visual language for the project. I worked hard, together with a team of talented designers, and before the end of my mandate, we released a new brand manual. You can read more of the work done here.
Since then, Joomla! is my CMS of choice. All the websites I design for my clients are built using Joomla!. I absolutely love it, but most of all I love seeing people enjoy what I design for them. This is why I wake up every morning!
Given your focus on design, and knowing we operate in such a competitive world, what examples can you give of why good design is so important.
Design is an investment worth making at every stage of your project, from the initial idea to the final execution.
Design can help you:
to be different. As Marty Neumeier says in his book , The Brand Gap, “our old method of judging products, by comparing features and benefits, no longer works”. Design can help you define clearly why your product adds value to this world and how people can recognize your company among other similar ones that claim to perform like yours or even better than yours.
to encourage trust: Design is an amazing tool to increase the value of your company. In his book, Emotional Design, Donald Norman articulates how things that look nice perform better. He also claims that people are willing to spend more on beautiful things, if we can only help them to “emotionally” justify its price.
Thanks to an inspiring video, a well-designed website and great, up-to-date content, customers will trust your service and product.
to be charismatic: Design is about creativity; thinking big and creating. It is about inspiring other people to believe what you believe in. A well-designed product has a charismatic personality. A well-designed company shows a clear understanding of its mission. Both (good-looking product and clear mission) willn attract more customers and early adopters, it just makes good business sence!
Joomla! is now powering over 3% of the world’s websites, yet outside of the web build/development market no one has heard of it, should we care?
We should care more about the quality than the quantity. Ten good developers doing a great job are a much more effective generating publicity than 1000 developers creating mediocre products for thousands of unsatisfied clients and blaming Joomla! for not being a good CMS.
This is what I think, hurt Joomla for so many years! But there is an interesting shift going on… I can feel it! Some of the biggest companies out there are choosing Joomla! to run their business websites. And guess what? They are not other IT companies or not-for-profit organisations!
For example, few days ago I discovered that the website of Young & Rubicam, one of the most iconic global marketing communications companies in the world, is running on Joomla!. Why am I so excited about it? Because usually marketers and designers don’t see Joomla! as “the next cool thing”! I would like to shake the hand of the web builder who said to Young and Rubicam “your site will run on Joomla
As a veteran of Joomla! conferences, what advice would you give to a first time attender who is considering coming, but has not committed yet, what would you describe as the key benefit to be gained from attending a JWC?
Any Joomla! conference is an opportunity to exchange opinions and ideas with great minds from the industry. Your business will be enriched with new inspirations and possibilities. There is always a lot to learn at conferences like the JWC!
And of course, you will visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rome! ;)
Finally, is there anything else that you think may prove interesting to potential attendees?
If you are part of the Italian Community, I think this is a great opportunity to “build a bridge” with the international Community and give to your business a good lift!
Chiara, Thank you, this has been enlightening, I am sure I as well as anyone reading this will look forward with anticipation to your keynote at JWC in Rome.
Full details of this year’s Joomla World Conference can be found at conference.joomla.org tickets are still available but selling out fast. Don’t miss this incredible event taking place at the Sheraton Conference Centre, Rome, Italy between 17th - 19th November.