Welcome back to our interview section! This month we had the pleasure of talking to someone who is across the pond: Anyssa Ferreira, @anyssaferreira on Twitter. Initially specialized in graphic design, she founded her graphic design studio that later evolved into web design. She’s part of the organizing team of WordCamp São Paulo and actively participates in the Brazilian WordPress community, so please welcome Anyssa Ferreira!
Thanks for the interview, Anyssa. It’s a pleasure to have you here! For those who don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself and your career.
In 2007 you started working as a front-end web designer and developer. This is in the early days of WordPress when version 2.2 version that incorporated the widgets was just released. How did you get to know WordPress? What was your first experience like?
In 2007 I was looking for a job and needed a platform to build my graphic design portfolio. I discovered WordPress and, to be honest, I didn’t like it at first, at least not for making a portfolio. So I preferred to use Blogspot, as there were more possibilities for customization, such as being able to edit the site’s CSS and HTML.
Just a few years later we used WordPress again, to create a website for our company since it was a more corporate site. Until then, we only offered graphic design services. But then, as we explored WordPress better, we realized that the platform had evolved a lot and we could offer website creation for our clients.
More than ten years ago you founded, together with your partner Allyson Souza, Haste Design. After all these years of experience, what advantages and disadvantages do you see in starting a company of this type in your country? Do you have any recommendations for someone who wants to start a similar project?
When we founded the Haste studio, design training in Brazil was still very focused on print media, but the market was already starting to become saturated. Luckily, I always really liked the digital side and I devoted myself to learning code on my own. When we noticed this trend, since we are a small company, we were able to adapt quickly.
The main advantage is that we can serve customers of all sizes and from all over the world, since WordPress is the most widely used platform. The disadvantage is that we still often have extra work to educate the marketplace by explaining that WordPress is a professional tool and not just a system for creating simple blogs.
My recommendation today is that anyone working with WordPress development thinks about incorporating the latest technologies, such as headless WordPress, static websites, integration with frameworks like React, block-based themes, etc.
You are and have been a very active member of the Brazilian WordPress community from the beginning. Tell us a little about the history of how this community started and what your main achievements as a community have been.
We started interacting with the WordPress Brazil community through forums and groups to answer questions about development. People helped us a lot and we began to participate in order to reciprocate with the help received. We helped with the design of WordCamp São Paulo 2014 and since then I’ve been part of the organization of the event and have contributed to several activities.
And currently, what is your participation and contribution in the WordPress community? What do you like most about your participation in it? What would you recommend to others to encourage them to contribute too?
I’m currently part of the polyglot team, moderating Brazilian Portuguese translations, and I’m also part of the WordCamp São Paulo 2020 organizing team.
What I like to do most is to plan events like WordCamps and meetups. It’s really cool to see something that has been planned for months by super dedicated volunteers come true, and to see people enjoying the event. Plus, by participating in the WordPress community, I’ve met so many amazing people from all over the world, made friends, had opportunities and had great experiences.
In 2015 you received the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship, in fact you were the first woman to receive it. Tell us, what is this award, how did you get the idea to apply for it, and what was the experience like?
The Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship is an award created to give women the experience of participating in WordCamp US. The award was created in honor of Kim Parsell, who was a beloved figure, known as “WP Mom” and always present at WordCamps.
My partner Allyson Souza saw a post on the subject and encouraged me to apply. In the previous year, I had already been involved with the organization of the WordCamp and had taken action to encourage more women to participate in the event and in the community. I was very honored to have been chosen.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event because I was denied a visa. But it was one of the good experiences I had in the community.
This year you were one of the speakers at WordCamp Europe 2020. Congratulations! You told us about prototyping in WordPress. Why do you think it’s important to create a prototype in the web design process? What tools would you recommend for this?
Prototypes are important because they allow us to experiment and validate ideas without spending much time and effort on something that might go wrong. We can prototype for complete projects, or just for one feature or page.
The tool depends on how faithful you want your prototype to be. Sometimes a drawing on paper is enough. For a prototype with an interactive interface, I recommend Figma. Or, it is possible to create a prototype in WordPress, using plugins and blocks to create a simplified version of the website.
The year 2020 is becoming a very difficult year and none of us is exempt from this complexity. What are the most important difficulties and challenges you are facing right now?
Here in Brazil we still have a long battle against COVID-19. I have been isolated at home since March. At work, the biggest difficulty has been adapting our strategies to the new reality. In general, in the current situation, we also have the challenge of remaining optimistic so that our energy does not wane.
It’s definitely not being easy, but just to cheer us up a bit, now it’s the time for our most acclaimed question: sharing an epic failure from your past 😉. Confess: where and when did you go wrong?
It wasn’t a definitive failure, but during our first two or three years, I feel like we should have realized it was time to leave aside the idea of just working with design and move to web development. Although we managed to get through this phase, we lost a lot of time (and money), because the impostor syndrome told me that I couldn’t code, that I was just a designer, and that I could never practice professional development.
Finally, who else should we interview? Tell us which 3 WordPress professionals you would like to see in the next interviews and why.
I recommend Allyson Souza, who is the lead organizer of WordCamp São Paulo. Katharina Farina, journalist and creator of the WP Sem Code channel. And Felipe Elia, developer and creator of the Felipe Elia WP channel. They all contribute a lot to the Brazilian WordPress community by sharing knowledge and collaborating with events.
Thank you very much for your time, Anyssa, and many encouragements at these difficult times. It has really been a pleasure to have this interview with you, and I hope that our readers enjoy it too. See you next month!