Pablo Moratinos – WProfessional of the Month

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Oh boy! It’s been over a year since we last had an interview with a WProfessional in our blog… our tight schedule stopped us from interviewing more people. But don’t worry! It’s time to get back on track and introduce you to more WProfessionals. We (re-)start this section of our blog with someone I really admire and appreciate from the Spanish community: Pablo Moratinos.

Welcome to our blog, Pablo, and thank you very much for participating and helping us re-launch the interview section. You know that since I saw your speech in WordCamp Madrid 2018 I’m one of your fans and, honestly, I’ve been looking forward to interviewing you. For those who don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself and your relationship with WordPress.

Hahaha! Thanks, David. I’m really honored.

I had several professional roles in the past, but they were all related to communication. I worked in television and advertising, I had a podcast when nobody listened to any, and in 2012 I started my own company: 3ymedia.

Free software and free culture have been and still are a key component in my career. I administered several projects on Debian Linux or Ubuntu Server, I’m a Wikipedia editor, I co-administered the first online Spanish community for digital photographers who shared their work under CC-BY-SA licenses… and it’s in this photographers community, Fotolibre.net, where I met WordPress.

I loved the ease of use of WordPress. Publishing and organizing content was very easy. And then I learned all the capabilities you can get via plugins. At some point, I had just moved away from other CMS like Joomla or Prestahop. I started to work on WordPress exclusively.

Nowadays I work as a consultant in online marketing strategies. And the sites we build at 3ymedia are WordPress-based.

Although you’ve been working on WordPress for a long time now, your involvement with the community has increased dramatically lately. You have been a speaker in several WordCamps (Santander, Gran Canaria, Madrid, Barcelona, Granada…) and you are one of the promoters of the WordPress community in Irun and the organizer of its first WordCamp. What pushed you to do this? What would you say to all those who are thinking of getting more involved with the community and are not doing it? How do you encourage them?

To be honest, I never planned for this. I had been working with WordPress for 10 years, but I didn’t know the community until a couple of years ago in WordCamp Bilbao. That’s when I started to contribute to the translations and support teams. This also gave me the opportunity to meet some of the “celebrities” in the community, who are extremely approachable and nice. A WordCamp is something unique!

After that I thought it’d be great if we had something similar in Irun, where I come from. But I had to make sure there were people interested in it. So I started Irun WordPress and things worked just fine: a lot of people and a good vibe. In 2018 we held the first WordCamp and it was a huge success. In 2019 we’ll have the next one for sure!

Back to 2017, when I first met the community, I volunteered at WordCamp Chiclana. That’s when I decided I wanted to speak at a WordCamp. So I sent my proposals to the upcoming WordCamps in Spain and I got selected! Being a speaker at a WordCamp is a huge responsibility (that’s why some very-talented people never apply), but it also offers a fantastic and unique experience. Respect, fondness, proud… multiple feelings all at once. And you can benefit from the visibility you get, if you work hard and carefully.

Anyway, WordCamps are very entertaining and help you to meet and keep in touch with great people. If my schedule is free, I never miss a WordCamp: as a speaker, a volunteer, or just an attendee, I’ll be there.

Contributor Days are the easiest way to get involved with WordPress and make your first contributions. There you’ll meet the different team leaders and all the guidelines they follow. It’s way easier than doing it on your own.

In your agency, 3ymedia Comunicación Digital, you work with several town halls and official agencies of Basque Country. I understand that part of your collaboration with them is the implementation and use of WordPress, a free software tool. I think that it is very important that public administrations use this type of software, as it is the one that can offer more guarantees to citizens. What do you think about it? How is your experience working with the Public Administrations?

Well, public administrations are aware (up to some extent) of the importance of free software, especially after the initiatives from some communities in Spain. Unfortunately, though, its scope is limited to office suites. But if we talk about public business incubators, the reality is quite different: WordPress makes it easy to create an online business for a fraction of the cost other solutions have, and hence today we see a lot of new startups using free software solutions.

Nowadays it is very common for any development agency to offer WordPress and WooCommerce training to entrepreneurs. They have also applied the same model to their infrastructures, publishing news blogs with WP about their activities, making them more agile and independent form an IT department. Tourism departments and education councils are another good example of this. In the Basque Country in particular, a very strong commitment has been made to Liferay as a CMS, for example, from which the multisite network of public schools is managed.

Another thing that I find very interesting about 3ymedia is how you work: you rely on a multidisciplinary network of freelancers. It somehow reminds me of the Unix philosophy applied to the business world: instead of complicating the business itself by bringing more profiles in and doing more stuff, you look for expert collaborators in different areas and reach a state of symbiosis. Tell us a little more about it. Why did you decide to take this route? How is it working for you?

This has been a very meditated reflection in the planning of my professional project.

When I worked in television I had to manage work teams in which not only technical skills had to be taken into account but also attitudes, availability, holidays, trade union rights, etc. Human resource management is a complex subject that requires exclusive dedication. It was particularly stressful for me. At 3ymedia I didn’t want to be limited by this issue and at the same time I wanted to have the best possible professionals at hand to stay very competitive.

The solution was to create a network of trusted freelancers, people with whom I felt aligned ethically and personally. In Spain there is a similar initiative that I was inspired by, which is called the Red de Consultoría Artesana (Craft Consulting Network) in which I participated with some colleagues. We decided to apply similar criteria, but oriented to technological projects, forming teams based on the needs of each project, based on professional trust and affinity.

We have three main goals:

  1. Offer services that satisfy the needs of businesses and organizations.
  2. Promote local development and have a positive impact in our local community.
  3. Collaborate, share, and learn from each other.

When a project exceeds 3ymedia’s intrinsic capacity, we form a tailor-made team taking advantage of this network of freelancers and tackle it together.

It’s a system that takes time to implement because it’s not easy to find professionals who are willing to work like that. Keep in mind that these are offshored freelancers that are organized through teamwork techniques and use advanced productivity methods. In our case we use GTD and the Belbin method, for example.

There are clients who are not interested in working with this model out of mistrust (especially those who live in a more classical business culture) but more and more companies see it as an advantage. It is a question of having the opportunity to explain it properly. It has its advantages and disadvantages. You are happier working but in return the growth of the business is slower and more organic.

As an expert in online marketing and SEO, what are the 3 tips you would give every WordPress user to improve search engine rankings?

This question is simple, the answer is something very few people do.

Define your target audience and the keywords they are going to use to find you BEFORE you design your website. That’s your foundation upon you’ll build everything else. From those keywords you will know how should be the internal structure of the site and the information architecture.

We have a bad habit of approaching SEO as something reactive that is faced as a correction of aspects of our website or the content we are trying to position (such as videos on YouTube, for example). Defining it a priori saves us headaches, costs, and time. It even affects the UX of our site, as the information required by the user is easier to find and has greater visibility.

The second tip: don’t create the titles and descriptions of your pages thinking only of Google. Instead, write them so they contribute value to the user. If there is a good call to action in the snippet (something that does not usually have a technically direct SEO influence on keywords) we will get a good CTR in that result and that is a key factor in SEO, perhaps the most important.

Thirdly, I recommend that you take a look at your Google Analytics (or Matomo, which is free software) and discover which are the 10 pages that generate more quality traffic on your website and focus on improving them. It is important to improve the positioning of your site’s pages, but it is even more important to optimize your resources and dedicate time to what is most profitable. I would filter the incoming pages that have the highest conversion capacity and work on improving their ranking in order of importance. The home page, for example, is not always on that list 😉

Gutenberg is among us and I can not miss the opportunity to ask what your opinion is on the matter … is it a step forward? Was its release rushed?

I’m pro Gutenberg. I think an evolution of the editor was necessary and the solution offered by Gutenberg is very interesting and creative (I would even say very brilliant from a technical perspective). I think WordPress is a better CMS with Gutenberg and satisfies the need of many people who needed a more visual tool to build their website.
The evolution, the next phase of integration into the Customizer, is expected to be really exciting as well.

What I like least is the way in which decisions have been made, without taking into account the opinion of the community. I feel like it was Matt’s personal decision. However, I also think it was difficult to take this step any other way.

There are risky developments that need someone to take the lead and move forward no matter what. That’s why we have some elite developers in WordPress making decisions and prioritizing what should or should not be done. The WordPress community has an important meritocratic component and it seems to me that nothing has worked badly for us so far.

You know that in our interviews we always ask you to confess some past blunder, and I’m sorry to tell you that you’re not going to be the first to skimp on answering. So, come on, share with us some epic fail you had and what you learned.

I won’t share one, but two fails 😀

A few years ago, working with a Google Adwords campaign of a quite powerful client, I left it running for a month longer than due. Normally we follow them at least weekly, but in this case there was a misunderstanding between a colleague and me and the campaign ran without anyone monitoring it. As you can imagine, it costed a lot of money and we obviously had to take care of it, compensating our client.

Since then, all the campaigns have an end date (and if they have to run indefinitely, we’ll manually renew them). We also have a double verification system using Google Calendar that avoids misunderstandings.

The second one happened in my first talk in a WordCamp, in Santander 2017: “How to get 25 attendees to your first meetup.” In this talk I presented Irun WordPress as a kind of success story. We had used a set of interesting strategies that I thought it would be great to share. Well, there were less than 25 attendees to my talk. I know because I counted them. And most of them were my friends!

Where were the others? Well, apparently in the next room was JuanKa Díaz, who got all the attention and love: people in the corridor, people sitting on the floor… that should never happen! 😀

The truth is that it was a big setback for me, although I got over it right away and had a great time during the talk. I think the attendees did too XD

I said it was a pseudo-fail because it had some direct influence on the creation of at least 2 new meetups, Oviedo and León, and a possible WordCamp for 2019 (I don’t want to say anything yet). That alone was worth the effort and I am very satisfied with it. In the end it has affected many people in many places. An it has also been put as a practical reference many times in the community table of the Contributor Day of some WordCamps. That means it’s still useful.

The impact of what we do on the WordPress community is sometimes not too visible, but everything adds up and resources like WordPress.tv (all WordCamps talks are uploaded there) are a huge free knowledge repository. Recently we have surpassed 400 videos in Spanish. For the TV team (of which I am part as moderator together with Mauricio Gelves, the main driving force in Spain) it is a joy to see that there are so many people collaborating and consuming the contents.

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

Looking at the people you’ve already interviewed, I would have suggested most of them. They’re great professionals and it’s an honor to be in this section with them. So, if I had to propose someone you haven’t interviewed yet…

  • Ana Cirujano. She’s the leader of the design team in WordPress Spain. I had the pleasure of talking to her in all the WordCamps I attended last year. She’s a good example of how someone who wants to contribute (she co-organizes a meetup in Collado Villalba) and who’s an expert in their niche (she knows a lot about typography) can grow in the community.
  • Juan Hernando. One of the most relevant WordPress advocates in Galicia. I like him because we both love network freedom and the implications it has in our society. He’s the author of Enlace Permanente (the best WordPress-related newsletter in Spanish). He’s one of the best in our country!
  • Fernando Puente. He’s probably the one who knows the most about high-traffic sites in Spain. He’s a great professional and a fantastic colleague. He’s always willing to help you when you need him.

Thanks again for participating, Pablo. As always, it’s a pleasure to hear from you. I really enjoyed being able to re-launch this section with you. And you, dear reader, I hope you enjoyed this interview too and look forward to the next one!

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He obtained his PhD in Computer Science at UPC. David leads the analysis and design of our services and the user support area. He's interested in a variety of areas, including conceptual modeling, virtual reality, and 3D digital printing. He contributes to the WordPress community by participating in meetups, seminars, and the WCEU.

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