Magento evangelist Guido Jansen interview

That’s what Guido tells about himself:

“I am a Cognitive Psychologist, Data Driven Customer Experience Engineer and a Digital Native. I love testing hypotheses about human behavior in online environments and building communities.”

Also, Guido is a Dutch Community Manager for Magento, and we’re happy that he will come and speak at Meet Magento Belarus on Sep 21st. We asked him several questions about his work and the Magento community.

– Please tell us a couple of words about yourself. How it happened that you became so close with the Magento community?

During college, I was working with open source CMS tools (Joomla, Wordpess, Drupal). Those projects (especially 8 years ago) are usually done after they go live because they are often quite static sites. But in E-commerce, implementation is just the starting point. The fun starts after the site is live which I (as a psychologist) think is way more interesting!

Besides on-site user research with design/development mockups, you also have the advantage of having behavioral data from all users! So when Magento came around in 2008 it was open source and a huge leap forward compared to contemporary systems, so I jumped right on.

Guido at Magento kitchen

– You’re a very active Magento evangelist, and seeing what and how you do calls to mind you’re a big Magento fan at heart. Why Magento? Why did you choose this particular e-commerce area?

At the beginning it was because it was open source and being much better than all other systems around. Right now the value of Magento is no longer about technology only. Lots of competitors are doing similar things. It’s more about the powerful community that is adding the most value to it. And besides Magento being a business tool, it’s also somehow a fun and relaxed community.

For example: if you go to a Meet Magento event, you’ll see that people don’t go home after the sessions. Most of them stay to have dinner and drinks together and have discussions just about anything. Some even go to Developers Paradise to go snowboarding in the Alps or sailing in the Mediterranean together.

For many people, Magento became a second family.

– Three key points for a successful Meet Magento event?

In no particular order:

  • Community
  • Team
  • Sponsors

– Your advice on finding and engaging sponsors for a pioneer Magento event in a particular country?

If you’re trying to get your own Meet Magento event up-and-running in your own country, always contact the Meet Magento Association first. To get into contact with companies and people that can help out with organization or sponsoring, look for individuals or companies that are already active in or even contributing to the community with support, blogs, code, etc.

Also, look outside of Magento companies for more general e-commerce related services that have Magento connectors like CRM, E-mail marketing, Payment providers, logistics, etc..

– Indeed, Magento community is unique in its own way. The number of events with reference to the number of Magento developers in the world is unprecedented if compared to the ratio for other development communities. It means that the community can boast of more active members. Do you think there’s a reason for that?

Because Magento is open source, had a great start (ahead of it’s time) and listened to the needs of the market, it became the go-to solution. Many people started using the system, both developers and merchants. And in open source the power is in the number of people contributing, and many of them did.

Quickly we had many people writing tutorials, helping out on the forums and creating extensions to add to the default functionality. Which itself created a more interesting product/community, so more people started joining and contributing… And you have the perfect viral system :).

Guido Jansen quote about Magento community

Tweet quote

– I personally know some guys which think that conferences and hackathons are a waste of time, and the best way to be better as a professional is to work harder. To your mind, is there a point?

Sure, if you…

…like to work harder instead of smarter

…don’t see how having a big(ger) network can help you in your work and career

…have a lot of time left to work more

…have no life besides work

….don’t want to scale.

In that case: yeah, don’t come to our events, you’re the one that is missing out, not us ;).

– How do you see your current mission and aims at the crossroads of your job and Magento community?

I’m looking forward to 10 years of Meet Magento events. We had our 7th annual event last May, so we have some events to go ;). The goal of the local community is to support and stimulate business and people wherever we can. We do this by organizing things (like MM events) that are not possible (or don’t make sense) for a single partner to do. And we will continue to do so.

For me personally it’s awesome to see so many countries now also organizing Meet Magento events (around 30 this year!!), and I love helping those just starting out so there will be some traveling involved in the next couple of months/years :).

Guido speaking

– How does your average day look like?

I’ll start doing some e-mail at home to get that out of the way first and update my to-do list for the day during my commute to the office (by train). At the office I work with colleagues through several projects that aim to gain knowledge about our website visitors and/or directly improve our bottom line. Think about user research, data analysis, setting up A/B tests, educating colleagues about what’s working and what is not… Basically all aspects that are in the WOW-model (Website Optimization Workflow) that I published.

After office hours: dinner in the city or at home (preferably on the balcony) and either a TV series/movie, some kind of self education, or working on my own remote user testing tool UserLegion. Also some work still goes in to managing the Dutch community website, but fortunately I hired a very good blog manager to handle most of the work.

Usually days feel like they are about 6 hours too short for me ;).

– What are the things you’re extremely good at and extremely bad at?

Good: Swimming and sleeping in during the weekends.

Bad: Remembering the names of all the people I meet at Meet Magento events.

– What’s the first thing you would improve in Magento when it comes to conversions and customer behavior?

Optimize the reporting so merchants get better and more actionable insights into user behavior to improve their product and the website.

We thank Guido for chatting with us and are looking forward on his speech at MM15BY.