Introducing Anyssa Ferreira
Anyssa Ferreira is a designer and front-end developer from São Paulo, Brazil. She is co-founder of Haste, an agency focused on delivering great user experience with WordPress. Anyssa is also part of the WordCamp São Paulo organizing team.
Preferred Pronouns | She/Her
Tara: This is Hallway Chats, where we meet people who use WordPress.
Liam: We ask questions and our guests share their stories, ideas, and perspectives.
Tara: And now the conversation begins. This is Episode 133.
Tara: Welcome to Hallway Chats. I’m Tara Claeys.
Liam: And I’m Liam Dempsey. Liam: And I’m Liam Dempsey. Today we are joined by Anyssa Ferreira. Anyssa is a designer and front-end developer from São Paulo, Brazil. She is co-founder of Haste, an agency focused on delivering great user experience with WordPress. Anyssa is also part of the WordCamp São Paulo organizing team. Welcome!
Tara: Welcome to Hallway Chats. I’m Tara Claeys.
Liam: And I’m Liam Dempsey. Today we’re joined by Anyssa Ferreira. Anyssa is a designer and front end developer from São Paulo, Brazil. She is the co-founder of Haste, an agency focused on delivering great user experience with WordPress. Anyssa is also part of the WordCamp São Paulo organizing team. Hello, Anyssa. Welcome.
Anyssa: Hello. Thank you for having me here today.
Tara: So glad to have you. Glad to have someone from the other side of the world in a vertical sense. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Anyssa: Yes, sure. As Liam said, I am a designer and front end developer. I started playing with FrontPage in my teenage. I ended up here today with you with WordPress. Now I have my own agency where I work with a variety of clients, developing everything from corporate websites and e-commerce and plugins and everything that WordPress can do.
Tara: I used FrontPage a long time ago as well. How did you discover WordPress?
Anyssa: Well, after I played with FrontPage, I realized that I had to learn something different if I wanted to really create professional websites. So when I was looking for a platform to build my portfolio, I guess I was in college at the time. I went to a graphic designer college. So I was looking for a platform to just build a simple portfolio and put some images.
I found WordPress, and I didn’t really like it at first. I kind of build a portfolio, didn’t like it and I left. I went to BlogSpot and I built my portfolio there. When I had to build a more robust website, I went back to WordPress, and I thought, “Well, this will be more appropriate for this kind of website this time.”
Liam: That’s super interesting around going with FrontPage and then…I didn’t start with FrontPage. I was Dreamweaver and just coding in text editors and the like. But definitely more of a marketing and designer than a developer. But now you have described yourself as a front end developer. Talk about your transition or introduction or at least willingness to dive into code to the point where you publicly declare that you code, which is something I always reluctantly share. I never describe myself as a developer. And it’s not a bridge that ultimately I wanted to cross. I’d be interested in hearing your story.
I got a freelance job that I had to build the layout of a website. My client asked me if I could build it, and I said, “Okay, I can.” And then I built it. Then the client really liked it. She said, “Oh, let’s work together. You maintain the website, and I’ll pay you to do this.” And I was like, “Oh, I can really work with this.” So I really started working as a developer than a designer. It was my first job, and I really was surprised because someone saw that I could develop something and I really didn’t believe that I could.
At this point, I was like, “Okay, maybe I should really start to take this seriously.” Because at the college, I didn’t have any coding classes—just a really basic one—I had to learn by myself. So I started studying and really put effort on the coding side of my skills.
Tara: That’s really interesting. What is the community like where you live? The WordPress community.
Anyssa: Well do community here is a very dedicated one. But also we are going through a rough period. We need to understand what is happening right now in our community to bring more people, to engage more people. Because three or four years ago, we had this huge community, and all of a sudden, it really shrunk a bit. Now we don’t have many WordCamps. We have like two in a year for contrast because Brazil is not much. So we really need to give some attention to the base work and talk to people and engage them. Because WordPress is really huge here, but the community is not really representing the size of the engagement we have here.
Liam: You might not have the answer, so I’m not trying to put you on the spot. The decline of the activity of the Brazilian WordPress community, is that likely to be related to COVID-19? Or do you think there’s another factor there?
Anyssa: Well, COVID certainly had an impact. But it was even before that all the pandemic and quarantine. I think that WordPress is really to…we have different tools here that have a bigger marketing approach. I don’t know how to express this. The other tools I think make more effort to make…Sorry.
Liam: No, you’re doing fine. Your English is fantastic compared to my Brazilian, my Portuguese. So carry on. I’m definitely following you. It’s a different approach, but just take your time and share it as you’d like. We’re definitely understanding.
Anyssa: Okay. The other tools like Wix or other e-commerce platforms, they are really investing in marketing and people are migrating to these other tools. Sometimes people still see WordPress as the armature tools.
Liam: Yeah, armature tools. Sure.
Anyssa: Like something that is not an enterprise or something that is for you to build just a simple blog, is not really a professional tool. So we really have this work of educating the market here. That’s why I said that our community is super…because everyone works day and night telling people, “No, WordPress does not have security problems.” It has some security problems as any other software would have. So we have to keep educating people in the very basic stuff. That’s most of the difficulty of the community we have here is about this.
Liam: That’s a real challenge to educate folks about the realities of WordPress because, of course, it has its security flaws and risks. But every content management system does. And to say that WordPress is more vulnerable than others is…I mean, it’s difficult as a small agency to have any kind of scientific data that says, actually, it’s no more so. I mean, anecdotally and professionally we can say it’s not but there’s just…At least I’m aware of. Tara, do you know of anywhere you could point to a study or a blog post that says these are the topmost insecure content management system? Because WordPress might be hacked the most, but it’s also the most widely used. So inevitably, it’s going to be the most hacked. That makes sense. Yeah, that’s a challenge.
Tara: Yeah, for sure. I’m also curious when we talk about challenges if you would talk to us a little bit about being the co-founder of an agency and what challenges you found doing that, being your own boss and running an agency and working with clients. Talk to us a little bit about your experience there and what the challenges are.
Anyssa: Well, it certainly was a challenge. It still is. But I feel like the first challenge is that we were very young at the time we founded. I was 19.
Tara: Wow, that’s impressive.
Anyssa: I said that working with website development was my first job. It also was my only job. So I just had this one job. Then I went, “Oh, you know what, let’s start our own thing.” This was the first challenge. We didn’t have much experience and network and anything. We just knew that we wanted to do something different than we were experienced in our jobs.
Then we started studying and learning everything we could. The WordPress community really helped us at a key moment in our company because we started doing everything we could about design. Like, “Do you need some print or logo?” Anything you could think of we would do. So when we started seeing that building websites with WordPress were a possibility, we went to the community and we asked a lot of help. First to build our own website, and then what we learned, we started doing for clients.
This was one of the biggest challenges is to learn how to adapt really fast because we didn’t have so much previous experience. I think those were the main challenges. Now is like, how can we keep a sustainable business and think about growing and bringing more business? And also the pandemic, right, it’s a big challenge for everyone.
Tara: Yeah, for sure. So you started this with a friend. How has that worked out?
Anyssa: Yeah, I started this with my boyfriend, Allyson. We really work well together. We complement each other’s skills. He’s a back end developer. He tends to deal more with the business side and I tend to deal more with the creative side. So it went really well. In the last couple of years, we hired some stuff and we have another partner now, Max. We are getting really well.
This is really weird because at first, we thought, “Oh, we have to separate personal one, and business life and things. We have to be really mindful of that.” It wasn’t really that hard. I think we really knew how to complement each other’s, not only skills but knowledge, everything. I think when you work with someone that you know and you like, it’s really the best because you are leaving with the person for many hours and you have to communicate well, you have to be able to understand, and all those soft skills get really easier to deal with that.
Tara: We’ve chatted with a few couples who work together, and I think it’s amazing to be able to do that, actually. Because I think it is a struggle to separate work from life in general. And then to have that be part of your relationship as well, it says a lot about the strength of a relationship to do that. And I think you have to make a concerted effort. As you said, you talked about that. So how many years have you been doing this together then?
Anyssa: Well, we started working together in 2009. So it’s 11 years now.
Tara: Wow. That’s impressive. Congratulations. That’s great. That’s great.
I’d like to ask you about success. We ask everyone this question and I love hearing the different answers that we hear. What does success mean to you? How do you define it? And how do you incorporate that definition into your life?
Anyssa: I think success is reaching a goal. It doesn’t matter what goal it is. I really think success is not really caring about what other people think success is. When we started working and we started our own agency, I thought a lot about this. And I thought, “Well, when will I feel like I accomplished success? Will that be when, I don’t know, I have my first million dollars? Or when I have over 200 people company? What will success look like?”
Now today I don’t have any of this. But I feel I can work the same amount of hours in my week, I can have my time of entertainment and doing nothing, I have my weekends and I have my mental health. I have my health in general. So I think this is starting to look like success for me. Of course, I want to do a lot more. But I am seeing that I’m getting the small successes. And this is like compounding the big success that I want.
Liam: I really like that idea of a bunch of small successes heading up to an overall feeling of success. I just want to go back to something you said about success is not concerning yourself with the definition of other people’s success. I just love that. I love that confidence. And not a bravado, or hubris, or false pride, but really just I am who I am and I understand who I am and what matters to me, and not matter to you and that’s okay. It matters to me and I’m going to make that my work and my goal. That’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing that.
Anyssa: Thank you. I think we live like in a moment in history where we see people getting one billion dollars at age 23. And we look at this and we are like, “Oh my God. What am I doing with my life?” And I get this sometimes. A lot. But I really just, you know what? I don’t care. I’m doing my own thing. I know all of the steps I had to take to reach where I am. So it couldn’t be different. I did my best, and of course, could have done some things differently. But we cannot think about this. We cannot mess with timelines. “You know, what if I had done this well? Something good could come up of this.” But I could be something bad too. So there is no point of thinking “What could I have done?” or “What would my life be if something would be different?”
Tara: And I think having started your own company at age 19, your definition of success naturally will evolve as you get older and as your business shifts and changes. So thank you for sharing that.
Anyssa: Yeah, it definitely changed a lot, and I definitely learned a lot. I hope it keeps changing, I don’t know, until the end. Because it’s not really something that I think is fixed. It’s something that needs to keep changing. Even if I really just reach the goal that I set before, I need to set other words. So really we keep going.
Liam: Yeah, that makes sense. I want to ask you about your business and about business development in a COVID-19 economy. We shared before the show that both Brazil, where you live, and the United States, where Tara and I live have various stages of locked down orders in place throughout our respective countries. How are you and your business partner going about bringing in work, doing business development in this type of environment? What does that look like for you?
Anyssa: We are working 100% percent remotely. We started early on, March, I guess. We didn’t even have a lockdown order here in Brazil when we started. But we already had some experience working remotely. Our company was not remote at the time, but part of it was. We always had the tools. We always used Slack. Everything was in GitHub or our files were in the cloud. Everything was set up to work remotely; we just prefer to go to the office.
When we had to make the shift to work remotely, it was kind of smooth. We didn’t have a lot of problems. We just had to adjust the communication process because we felt really isolated. We were used to working side by side. So we just worked there. And when we need to talk to someone, we just turn to the side and say something. Since we didn’t have this, we had to set up daily meetings and weekly meetings.
Now we are trying to understand what we can do to bring more business because we need to think about the future and how can we bring more business. We actually saw an opportunity in working with clients from other countries that we didn’t really have the opportunity before. Since now everyone is remote, we can focus on this. So now we are talking with people from other countries and trying to get business in not only Brazil but in the world.
Liam: Yeah, that’s really interesting—he globalization due to the little lockdown that enables folks to communicate and do business outside of their own geographic limitations. I suppose, you know, going east and west gets a bit tricky with time zones, but you can go up and down your same time zone. And there’s plenty of folks in it and you don’t have to deal with time zone. That’s really interesting.
I want to change gears on us and talk a little bit about advice. My question for you is, what’s the best advice that you’ve ever been given or read or encountered and successfully implemented in your life?
Anyssa: Well, it was an advice from a YouTube video. I don’t have it anymore. But it was a really simple YouTube video about drawing. It really can be applied to anything. It’s just like do something a lot of times and you’ll get good in it. It doesn’t matter what it is. The man was talking about drawing a character. But it’s just simple. There is no magic in how do I become good in something. There is no magic. Just do this thing as many times as you can do and you’ll be good at it eventually. So pretty much anything can be achieved through training.
Liam: Yeah, I like that. I find myself needing to remind myself of that from time to time, that you know, this is cumbersome and laborious. And I keep hitting my virtual foot on the same stump and it’s really just because I don’t know what I’m doing. And if I do it more and more, it becomes easier. Tara, I can see from the look on your face that you wanted to share something, so I’m going to be quiet.
Tara: No, I was going to be in agreement on that concept. I was also going to ask what you do for fun when you’re not working.
Anyssa: Well, I draw. I like to draw a lot. I like to play video games. Pretty much anything that involves creativity. I like to write, to do manual work. I really try to do very different things for my hobby that does not involve only the computer or something electronic because I get so much time in front of screens. Especially now in quarantine, I just need some daylight eventually. But I try to draw a lot. In the last couple of days, I’ve been drawing a lot.
Liam: What do you like to draw? Sorry, to interrupt.
Tara: Now I’m drawing Manga. So I’m drawing Japanese style comics. I am really liking it. It’s usually something that teenagers do. I’m a little late to the party but it’s never too late. I’m really enjoying
Tara: When you work in WordPress, do you work with an English version of it or do you use a translated version? I know it’s been something that has been talked about a lot and I haven’t really explored it much myself, but I’m curious as to how you interact with WordPress in your language or in English.
Anyssa: I use it in Brazilian Portuguese. I am part of the translation team. I am one of the translators in our community. I even translate plugins and themes too. This is why WordPress is so successful here in Brazil because we have a really good translation team. They are real fast. We work really hard to ensure that WordPress is available in Portuguese as soon as they release a new version. Only 5% of the Brazilians speak English, so we have to translate it. I ended up using it in Portuguese almost all the time.
Tara: I love hearing that. It’s something that I think we’re so centered on ourselves in the English language that I don’t think that we think about that very often. And whenever I encounter blog posts or information about the translating teams, I’m always fascinated to hear about what they’re doing and how to make WordPress available to people who don’t speak English. It’s wonderful. And that’s one of the reasons I’m sure why WordPress is so widely used. Are other platforms like Squarespace, and Wix, and those, do they have translations? Or are they only in English? I wonder. Do you know?
Anyssa: Wix I know they have a Portuguese version. I’m not aware if Squarespace has. But I guess they have.
Tara: Okay. I guess that’s the benefit of being open sources is you have people contributing from all over the world in their own languages rather than having to hire people to do that. Thank you for contributing to the WordPress community and to your community in Brazil to make WordPress more accessible to everybody. That’s great. It’s a big commitment I’m sure.
Liam: And I’ll second that. Thanks. The translation teams who give up their time and their talent and their multi-language skills are a huge part of what makes the WordPress community global. If folks like you, Anyssa weren’t skilled enough and generous enough to do that, we wouldn’t be able to have the great, not just community but also just the economy, the diversity, the plugins made by folks from all over the world. So thank you for your contributions that way. Even though we’re not in Brazil, we’re certainly benefiting from your work translated into Portuguese. Thank you.
Anyssa: You’re welcome.
Liam: We are sadly out of time here, but before we say goodbye, I’d love for you to share where people can find you online, and maybe if you share them and people can see some of your drawings online too.
Anyssa: You can find me on Twitter. I am @anyssaferreira on Twitter. In almost every other social media, I am Anyssa Ferreira too. There are indeed some drawings on Twitter right now. And you can find me at my website, which is hastedesign.com.br. That’s it.
Tara: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure meeting you. I hope that you stay safe.
Anyssa: You too. Stay safe, everyone.
Liam: Bye for now, Anyssa. Take care.
Tara: If you like what we’re doing here – meeting new people in our WordPress community – we invite you to tell others about it. We’re on iTunes and at hallwaychats.com.
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