Ana Cirujano – WProfessional of the Month

Published in Community.

After one year without interviews, last month we resumed the section with our colleague and friend Pablo. In his interview, he suggested we interview Ana Cirujano, one of the most recognized people within the WordPress community in Spain. Well, here she is! Let’s learn more about Ana and her story.

Thank you for the interview, Ana. I’m really happy to have you here! For those who do not know you, tell us a little more about yourself.

Thanks, David. I am very happy to participate and I love the idea of being a WProfessional.

I have been a visual and interaction designer for more than ten years and during the last three years I have been working as a freelance, developing WordPress projects for my clients.

The truth is that I have never stopped learning: I graduated in Sociology, I studied Commercial Management and Marketing and a master’s degree in web design and development. Everything I know about design I learned by myself, thanks to my work and some courses I did.

For ten years I worked as an editorial designer in a foundation and now I’m dedicated to web design and development, branding, and business training.

How did a graduate in Sociology end up specializing in web design and development? What was it that motivated you? How was the transition? I think having experts from other sectors in the digital world is a great virtue and your experience in this regard can encourage others to follow your steps.

I feel like working in the discipline you studied is uncommon nowadays. I studied sociology because it seemed like a very nice career: I wanted to know to what extent humans are determined by the society in which they’re born. I wanted to know what percentage of the actions carried out by an individual depends on themself and what percentage depends on the society in which they lived and the things they saw. Science doesn’t have the answer, but it gives you the tools to get close to it.

I enjoyed studying the career very much, but I didn’t want to work on any of the options I was presented: market research, socioeconomic studies, human resources, political analysis, social development projects… Intellectually they were very appealing but, as I said, I didn’t want to dedicate myself to any of these things professionally.

During my career I was working on a cybercafe, with children playing Counter Strike and South American people chatting with their families. I designed all the graphic materials in that cybercafe: from the brochures to the signs on the facade. I loved it! And I felt like I was pretty good at it, too…

When I completed my degree I started an internship in a foundation, in which I was promised a job as a sociologist in studies on the incorporation of doctors in companies. Fortunately for me, though, that never happened: my first work there was to design “la Guía de Empresas que Ofrecen Empleo“. More than 400 pages with a lot of files, charts, and tables. I was very happy because QuarkXPress was much more fun than SPSS. At that moment I fell in love with design and I decided I would dedicate myself to this discipline.

Sociology has given me a good foundation of social science, but all my work-oriented training has been design. Especially editorial design and typography (which is my specialty).

The career helped me face the professional world: perseverance, resilience, scientific rigor… Analyzing user experience with data and not intuition is something that comes naturally to a sociologist. But what excited me was the graphic, visual creation. I did the specialty of Knowledge, Culture, and Communication, and I learned many useful theories that I apply to my work, such as, for example, the theories of Gestalt.

Sociologists are very much in demand today in the Big Data sector and in UX. On the one hand, we know how to analyze data. On the other, we understand human behavior and can draw conclusions from a social perspective.

You participate actively in the WordPress community. In fact, you’ve participated in several WordCamps around Spain. What would you say to those who hesitate or don’t see the point in attending a WordCamp? How would you “sell” them a WordCamp?

My first WordCamp was in Madrid and since WordCamp Chiclana 2017 I haven’t missed any. In 2018 I have been a speaker in all Spanish WordCamps (except in Barcelona’s, where I was a volunteer, although I also had the opportunity to give a talk on Contributor Day). I also volunteered at WordCamp Brighton and attended WordCamp Europe in Belgrade. I think I can say that I am WordCampaholic.

Many of us who work with WordPress are freelancers and this often involves spending many hours working alone. Sure, we do many video calls with clients and collaborators, but this isn’t enough. Even if you work in a co-working space, people who are by your side might be working on completely unrelated things to what you’re doing…

Going to the WordPress Community events, (meetups and WordCamps) gives you the opportunity to meet with people who share the same concerns and passions. That’s something very important emotionally, and there is a very high probability that you end up having great friends.

The philosophy behind WordPress (free software, open source, the GPL license…) favors sharing knowledge and experiences, and that’s precisely what we do in events. Besides fun, going to Meetups and WordCamps is very practical and helps us in our daily work.

Gutenberg is here to stay. During its development there were many discussions about its user interface, accessibility … How do you see it? What do you think of Gutenberg?

What I like the most about the block editor is its column support. It’s not perfect yet, but we’re on the right track. Gutenberg’s release was rushed, but once it works as it’s expected to, I think it’ll be extremely beneficial to the users and way better than TinyMCE. The only thing I miss is the special character map, which is no longer available and was great for proper ortotypography.

What is the contribution that you feel most proud of?

Last year we started the WordPress Spain design team and I am proud to be the coordinator of the design tables at Contributor Days and the Slack Design channel of WordPress Spain. This team supports the marketing and press teams of the WordPress Community, with the design of graphic materials for the dissemination and growth of WordPress in Spain, and also the Meetups and WordCamps around the country, creating banners, logos, brochures… everything you need to improve the WordPress image.

The goal of this team is to coordinate among all the designers that participate in the WordPress Community to improve the WordPress design. We want everything that is designed for WordPress in Spain to have a professional look.

The WordPress community is, as far as I know, one of the online communities that puts more effort into combating discrimination and promoting diversity. If the focus is on these two objectives, it’s because there is a perception that discrimination exists in this world. What is your opinion on this topic?

Discrimination is not something typical of WordPress in particular, but of the globe in general. It is something that we have had universally, everywhere, always. In the WordPress Community there is a desire for diversity and this is reflected in WordCamps’ Code of Conduct.

If there is a code of conduct, it’s because it’s necessary. If something is forbidden, it’s because if it wasn’t, we’d do it. Whether by habit, by fear, or by both, we tend to discriminate against those who are different from us. Do you know why there is a prohibition on incest? Anthropology says that if it weren’t forbidden, we’d all prefer to relate to the people who are the closest to us, not “strangers.” Thanks to the prohibition, we achieve diversity, which is essential for the prosperity of the species. If it didn’t exist, we’d all be endogamous. And incest is a prohibition that exists universally.

If we didn’t promote diversity in the WordPress Community, by default we’d be missing many very valuable people who can contribute a lot. That’s why I think it’s great that we can all participate under equal conditions and that all our actions are pleasing to everyone else.

The funniest moment of our interviews is the one in which you tell us a blunder from the past… and I’m afraid you’re not going to be the first to skip this question. Why do not you share an epic fail with us?

I remember one from my time as an offline graphic designer. I designed a poster for a stage for an event and took the measurements backwards: height by width instead of width by height. So the panel measured 2 × 3 instead of 3 × 2. I had to measure three meters wide and I designed assuming it had to measure three meter high. We didn’t notice the error until it arrived. What a shame! In the end, we could use the faulty poster and nobody noticed the mistake, but…

When you design for the web, you have more room for maneuver: design mistakes can be fixed and replaced quickly. It’s the good thing about designing for the web, that everything is updatable. But what is printed… is already printed!

And to finish, who else should we interview? Tell us what 3 WProfessionals you would like to see in the next interviews and why.

  • Vanesa Gómez. Vanesa created her website with WordPress and for years she makes a living thanks to a great job of online marketing, generating quality content daily. Her story is very interesting!
  • Carlos Longarela. If I think of great WordPress expert programmers that you haven’t interviewed yet, the first one that comes to mind is Carlos.
  • Flavia Bernárdez. Have you ever inherited a project and loved how well it was done? I did, and it was Flavia’s.

Thank you very much for this interview, Ana. I hope you all liked it as much as I did. We’ll see you in a month with another interview. Be good! 😉

Featured image by Pablo Moratinos.

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