Employee Spotlight: Erika Laguna

Simply180's Senior Developer can make rainbows and butterflies jump off your screen. Yet, she's happiest building websites that compel you with simplicity. Erika spends every day meticulously crafting assets that shape a brand’s identity. And every day, she’s driven to succeed across every industry Simply180 throws her way.

Let's get to know Erika in her own words.

1. How did you find your way to Simply180, what do you do, and how long have you been here?

Before Simply180, I worked at a company that specialized in direct marketing. I enjoyed it at first, but after a while, the job became repetitive and uninspiring. I wanted to work for a company that challenged me to learn new skills and work across a broad set of industries. Fortunately, I found Simply180 at the perfect time in my career.

As Simply180’s front-end developer, I often describe myself as the company “translator.” It’s my job to review designs and program them into living, breathing, functioning websites that looks as close to original concept as possible. I do this not only for websites, but for emails, landing pages, and blogs.

On the day to day, I work mostly in WordPress, but I’m not limited to that platform. Ultimately, whatever systems our clients work with are the ones I must learn. When situations like that come up, I always tell the client, ‘I have no idea how to use that software, but I’ll have it running in no time.’ That’s my job, and I love that every day is different.

2. What lights you up about the job?

I love my job because every day is different. Whether I'm working with a new client, a new website, or a new project, I'm constantly challenged to grow professionally in the best way possible. Simply180 supports such a broad set of industries that I know I'll never be bored.

MasterCraft Builder Group is a great example of a rewarding and challenging project I had the opportunity to work on. The company needed a website refresh, so our team spent several months researching competitors, planning, designing, and developing a completely new digital identity. It was painstaking at times, but the result was a total success. The get to play in the sandbox with the 800 lb gorillas!

3. What powers your optimal day at work?

My optimal day is when I start a project with every asset in place, including content, images, and videos. When I don't have all those puzzle pieces, it's challenging to find a creative rhythm. But when I have what I need from the beginning, I can flow through the work with ease. Now that's a good day.

4. What's the best career lesson you've learned so far?

I've learned that to succeed as a developer, I must stay current with industry trends, new techniques, and digital advances, or I'll become obsolete. An obsolete developer is an out-of-job developer. And I plan on doing this for a very long time.

5. What have you learned from Simply180's clients that have made you better at what you do?

Clients understandably have strong views about their brands' identities, and sometimes their visions don't align with our ideas. I always try to present clients with multiple options to consider, but in the end, I've learned that patience is the only way forward. Lessons in patience are invaluable at work and in life.

6. What's the one thing you wish clients understood about your job that could help improve their business?

I wish clients understood that I can create almost any type of website, but I can't do it all cost-effectively. For instance, some brands request flashy effects, transitions and animations that consume a lot of time and don’t always support the most optimal user experience. The good news is, expensive bells and whistles aren't necessary to produce a high-performing, visually appealing site. I can create designs that support every brand's mission and budget. It's a matter of collaborating on the features and goals that matter most.

7. What can we find you doing when you're not on the clock?

I love doing DIY projects. So, when I'm not on the clock, you can find me at home repainting an old piece of furniture, sewing clothes for my daughter's dolls, rummaging through recipes to surprise my family, or, if everybody is out - quietly reading my Kindle. When I get time to read, I love getting lost in mystery novels. One of my favorite writers is James Patterson. I can read the Women’s Murder Club series over and over.

8. What's your favorite place in the world?

I'm a homebody. My favorite place in the world is home with my husband, daughter, and puppy. I also love traveling, but I love coming home even more.

9. What's your personal or professional mantra?

My personal mantra is: "Get ready! Move! Let's go!" I say it to my 9-year-old daughter all the time in the morning–usually in Spanish. "Vamos! De una vez!"

My professional mantra at S180 is: "Yes, it is possible. BUT is it cost-effective?" As a result, my colleagues poke fun at me for being the “no person” in the office. But, truthfully, I’m on a mission to keep everyone grounded and focused.

10. What's the one thing you can't live without?

I absolutely can't live without my phone. It's my connection to loved ones and the ever-changing digital world. But, of course, I can't live without my family either–and my puppy Mini!

11. If you ruled the world of developing, what would you change?

I'd instill the idea that less is more. Sometimes one single image can tell a compelling story, and a brief yet honest testimonial can inspire someone to work with a company. According to studies, viewers typically leave a website within 10 to 20 seconds, so you must get your point across quickly. You won't get a second chance to make a good first impression. I believe one-page websites that are easy to navigate and light in content send better, more precise messages than those with hundreds of pages.

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