Interview with Gloria Antonelli

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Gloria will be presenting Information Architecture Strategy Session on in the Foundation Friday 201 track.

Gloria Antonelli fits the current definition of a UX Unicorn – a web designer/developer with UX chops. Gloria attended her first UX workshop “Elements of User Experience” in 2004. Now an advocate of Lean UX, Gloria infuses her skills in rapid prototyping, front end development, user testing, and ideation within the WordPress design process. Her expertise also spans CSS, IA, Content and Documentation Strategies.

Gloria started presenting about the web in 1996 at local and national conferences and workshops. She began working with WordPress in 2006 and has been delighted to share her knowledge at WordCamps in Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Milwaukee. Happiness for Gloria besides researching UX trends, Mobile and App development is scuba diving in exotic locations.

Gloria became the new organizer of the inactive Chicago Suburbs WordPress Meetup Group. Currently she is looking for a new home and more advance focus for the group.


Why do you use WordPress?
I remember the exact day I learned about WordPress. Peter Merholz, credited with coining the word ‘blog’ talked about WordPress during his 2 day “Designing the Complete User Experience” workshop in 2006. WordPress was a little funky back then but I continued to add it to my clients sites. I began teaching WordPress to advertising agencies and web designer in Chicago. It was much easier that developing from scratch. During teaching web dev classes, I found myself saying you can do this much easier in WordPress by downloading a theme or adding a plugin. WordPress just gets better and better with each iteration.

What would you say to convince someone to attend a WordCamp?
WordCamp is a mystical place where knowledge and friendships develop. You can come and be welcomed into a place that speaks to your level of web development at a unbelievable rock bottom price. Especially at WordCamp Chicago where much effort is given to designing learning paths for all levels. Speaker are chosen from all over the country who give of their expertise with no compensation but a free ticket to the event. We love it and want you to come and experience it too. It is the Burning Man of WordPress. A community and knowledge exchange gathered annually for a weekend to share their stories around a common ideas and experiences. There is no actual burning of anything but the cultural exchange bringing together designers, developers, coders, business owners and bloggers. It has a thriving year-round culture both online and in smaller community MeetUps. To truly understand a WordCamp, one must participate. It is pretty cool!

What is your favorite WordPress project you have worked on recently?
I am all about User Experience. For many years I focused on teaching web development and WordPress. I experienced an issue that caused myself, my students and client much grief. “How to use a theme or plugging without pull out your hair.” Issues of poor documentation was the topic of many of my first WordCamp presentations. I am working on a personal project to create guidelines for theme and plugin developers to create effective documentation and address different WordPress learners. It focus on the what I coined back in 2011 – “Long tail of WordPress Users”. The project also includes effective Persona development.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to start or grow a WordPress based business?
I would look both in the WordPress community and the StartUp community mashing together a plan with a focus on who is your target audience and does your hypothesis of their needs match up with their actual needs. Basically embrace the Lean StartUp and Lean UX movement.

What is your favorite WordPress-related resource?
I am a big fan of Brian Richards is the host of series of quality presentations from experts in the WordPress Community. It is mini WordCamp quality sessions on more advanced topics without leaving home. It is fee based but many presentations are free.

Tell us something awesome about yourself that is not WordPress related
I like to chase tropical fish in their natural habitat. I am an Advanced Open Water scuba diver assisting my husband develop his professional underwater photography business. James, diving since college on Oahu, needed a dive buddy. Tropical beaches, warm water, and global travel was a no brainer. I herd schools of fish in James’ direction, pose near coral to create composition and show scale of marine environments. I began my certification in 2013 racking up over 100 dives so far. Our goal is to photograph the rich marine life of the Philippines.