Category Archives: Interviews

WordPress Co-Founder Chats it Up with LinkedIn’s Co-Founder

Matt Mullenweg Reid HoffmanIt’s not every day that two titans of technology get together in the same room and gab for an hour, but that’s exactly what happened recently when Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of the web development company Automattic and the co-founder of WordPress, sat down with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. The two gabbed like old friends about a wide variety of topics, including content, the history of WordPress, and the future of publishing.

You can watch the video, which appeared on LinkedIn’s blog, by clicking here.

The conversation began with the transformation of publishing content over the years. “One of the things that has been great is that many people thought the growth of social networks would kill blogs, but in fact what’s happened is that [social networks] are driving a ton of distribution, which is invigorating,” the WordPress co-founder said.

He added, “The downside is that a lot of the conversation that happened on blogs is now taking place in other places. People tend to talk about content where they were first exposed to it, so they respond to the Tweets, and what might have been a rich discussion… is not disaggregated. Sometimes the blog can be a bit lonely.” In essence, much of today’s conversation is occurring on various social media outlets.

Knowing what he knows now, is there anything Mullenweg would have done differently? “Lots of things,” he humbly said. “Almost everything. Things that come to mind are how we deal with media. I think that’s still a weak point for WordPress… We’re pretty good at text. Beyond that, it’s a little tricky. One transition we’re making now that I wish we had done four or five years ago is moving away from the document model.”

Despite the abundance of social networks and limitations with video, audio, and other multimedia, WordPress is growing leaps and bounds. Mullenweg commented, “People read blogs every single day… Providing a way for people to have a great reading experience is something we’re still figuring out and still working on.” There’s also still plenty of room for new and original content.

Mullenweg and Hoffman also talked about WordPress as a communication tool at Automattic. Instead of sending e-mails back and forth, as most of us do, Automattic uses WordPress to facilitate idea generation. “People are surprised at how little e-mail there is at Automattic,” Mullenweg said. “I get maybe 5 to 10 e-mails a week and that’s mostly HR stuff. Everything else is on these private internal blogs.”

o2He questioned, “What do we use email for? Communication. What are the downsides of that? Well, it allows anyone to interrupt you… Think of what [we do] like a CRM for all of your information and projects. By having everything public, searchable, and tagged, it’s really cool stuff.”

Mullenweg and company are working on a product called O2, which, according to its website, “liberates your company from the digital suffocation of doing business over e-mail.” He explained, “We’re trying to move the center of gravity for communication to something that’s open. We’re actually redoing the system… If you check out GetO2.com, you’ll be able to use it.” O2 is the reboot of Automattic’s internal system, which is called P2.

Finally, the conversation turned to the future of publishing. “I am a strong believer in long form and book and written content,” Mullenweg said. “That’s something that will be at the core of communication for a long time to come. Conversations are great, but [I like written responses]. I can think about it and I can throw it around to some people and really work on it.” Rather than shoot off quick thoughts in 140 characters, blogging and WordPress allow for comprehensive reflection. After all, not every industry can allow someone like a stock broker to become a theme developer!

Joomla Template development in Hanoi, Vietnam

JoomlaShine

1) If you don’t mind sharing, what is your real name and where do you live?

My name is Bui Huy Thang and I live in very crowded, yet romantic city Hanoi in Vietnam.

2) How did you get started in developing themes?

I built a template for my own site and later released it for free. I found the process enjoyable and could be real business. So I quit my full-time job to start Joomlashine.com

3) Do you have any artistic training?

Nope, just trying to create things that don’t hurt my own eyes.

4) How did you get starting with programming in general?

At the university. I’m a graduate from Technical University named after Bauman in Moscow, Russia.

5) What was your first theme and when did you develop it?

JSN Epic is the first template and it was built nearly 5 years ago. It’s still one of the best seller at the moment.

6) What is the favorite theme you have developed and why?

JSN Epic is my favorite, because it’s the start of all this.

JSN Epic

7) Do you focus mostly on theme sales or do you have other business interests you would like to mention?

Besides templates, we also build extension for Joomla being distributed at Joomlashine as well.

8) What sort of challenges have you faced when designing themes “for anyone” versus a specific client?

Joomla templates are basically a container for Joomla content and other extensions output. So it’s kind of hard to keep template’s code compatible with all sort of extensions being used by customer on the website. Moreover, when customer sees weird things on his website, he go and blame template provider first, while the root cause could be some extension installed.

9) In your opinion what is the difference between a premium/paid theme and a “free theme”?

Premium templates are backed by a better support and more frequent update. With a full stomach developers perform better and you get the better value.

10) What have been the biggest surprises to you developing themes? Or what have you enjoyed the most about designing great themes?

To my surprise, the simpler template, the better it sells. Heavy graphic templates may catch eyes, but in long run, they lose simple templates in term of sales.

11) When creating a new theme what are your priorities, or do those come after “creating something cool and new”?

No, my priority is to make robust template that runs well with as much extensions as possible. I prefer trusted technologies rather than uncertain modern ones. We do use some cool CSS3 stuff for eye-candy effects, but they are usually built on top of the robust foundation.

12) What is your normal process for creating a theme? Do you start with a pencil, PhotoShop, or dive right into coding?

Photoshop first, then coding.

13) What are some of your favorite new technologies that you use or are experimenting?

Well, obviously HTML5 and CSS3.

14) Any side projects you would like to discuss?

Nope ☺

15) Where do you seek inspiration for your work? Any particular designers, artists, or sites that you use?

I think the sources I use are very well known, so there is nothing special here.

16) If you have any superhero power what would it be and why?
To make people understand what I mean without spending much time on explaining.

The author of Type and Grid talks theme development

1) If you don’t mind sharing, what is your real name as many people only know your screen name, and where do you live?

My name is Jeremiah Shoaf and I just recently moved to Colorado after living in the DC area for 10 years. Originally I am from Oregon.

2) How did you get started in developing themes?

I actually got started with FlashDen (now called ActiveDen) back in 2008. I created a few Flash components and put them up for sale on the site. I made a few bucks and thought “hey this is pretty cool”, so after redesigning my new portfolio site I decided to make it into a Flash template.

Eventually I moved on from FlashDen and launched my own site called Warm Forest (http://www.warmforestflash.com) which sold Flash templates. My latest project is called Type & Grids (http://www.typeandgrids.com) and is built with HTML5 rather than Flash.

3) Do you have any artistic training?

None whatsoever. Other than a couple basic Photoshop courses I took at a community college, I am completely self taught in design.

4) How did you get starting with programming in general?

I originally studied Computer Science in college but after doing a web design project in a different class I realized I was much more interested in the visual side of things. So I ended up switching to studying Multimedia. In my early career I did a lot of Flash work which led me into ActionScript programming and eventually into objected-oriented AS3. So I kind of came full circle back into Computer Science territory but I enjoyed it a lot more this time around because Flash was so visual and interactive.

I’ve always enjoyed coding but I just view it as a tool to help me create cool things. If I’m programming something and it’s just something abstract without any kind of visuals or interaction involved it just doesn’t interest me as much.

5) What was your first theme and when did you develop it?

I guess the first real “theme” I created was a Flash template I sold on FlashDen in 2008. I actually didn’t create it with the purpose of selling it. I made it for my own personal portfolio site and decided later to offer it up for sale. I figured if it was useful to me it would be useful to others as well.

Type-and-Grid-HTML5-Reponsive-WordPress-Theme

6) What is the favorite theme you have developed and why?

Type & Grids is my new project and it’s definitely my favorite. It’s not really a theme – it’s more of a flexible site framework that has built-in themes. It comes with 20 type themes and 28 color themes (http://www.typeandgrids.com/themes/) which can be mixed and matched so it’s super easy to make the site look customized and unique. I’ve always thought having tons of customization options is really important because no one wants their site to look like everyone else’s.

7) Do you focus mostly on theme sales or do you have other business interests you would like to mention? (Give a chance to plug your own website, etc)

My “real job” is a freelance designer. I’ve been freelancing for 6 years and I mostly work with other design agencies. Selling themes is more of a side project for me.

8) What sort of challenges have you faced when designing themes “for anyone” versus a specific client?

I always consider myself my own client. I like to build things for myself that I would like to use. I’ve always used the sites that I sell for my own sites and I think that really shows that I stand behind my work. My first Flash template on FlashDen was my actual portfolio site. When I redesigned my site that became the Cedar template on Warm Forest (http://www.warmforestflash.com/products/cedar/). The latest version of my portfolio (http://www.jeremiahshoaf.com) is using Type & Grids. Luckily, other people end up having the same needs as me and share a similar taste in aesthetics so this strategy has worked out well.

12) What is your normal process for creating a theme? Do you start with a pencil, PhotoShop, or dive right into coding?

I always start everything with Photoshop. I’ve been using Photoshop for something like 13 years now and I just feel very comfortable working in it. I love working with code but I feel if I start a project that way it really limits my thinking. Photoshop allows me to just design without having to worry about how I’ll have to code things.

13) What are some of your favorite new technologies that you use or are experimenting?

I think static file CMS’s like Kirby and Statamic are awesome. The simplicity and freedom of not having a database is really appealing to me.

15) Where do you seek inspiration for your work? Any particular designers, artists, or sites that you use?

My favorite designer is Arnaud Mercier. I’ve been following his work since around 2002. Sadly he passed away recently but his work is still a big influence on me. You can see a permanent online collection of all his work here.

arnaud mercier flat ware

Teleportation with Qode Interactive

1) If you don’t mind sharing, what is your real name, and where do you live?

My name is Darko Stefanovic, I live in Belgrade (Serbia) and here I represent Qode Interactive team as co-founder and CTO.

qode interactive

2) How did you get started in developing themes?

Thanks to Ivan Paunovic other co-founder & CCO who brought that idea to table, we decided to try our luck on ThemeForest, as strategy of our company from beginning was to focus on interactive web projects with main intention to move front-end development to highest level. Also, we have in our team excellent front-end developer which we know can turn our vision into reality.

3) Do you have any artistic training? (yes, crayons count)

Our designer is college educated designer with great talent. We are so happy to have him on board.

4) How did you get starting with programming in general?

This talent is something I got from my father, I had first PC at home in 1986 and also my father was software developer. I started working on web sites in 1997. I’ve met Ivan in 2000 when he hired me to do develop first community web site in Serbia. 11 years later, we founded Qode Interactive.

5) What was your first theme and when did you develop it?

Our first and only public theme at this point is MINIMUM Professional WP. We started its development in November and we got it approved on ThemeForest on February 26.

MiniMUM WP Theme

6) What is the favorite theme you have developed and why?

MINIMUM Professional WP is our first theme and we are very proud of it. It brought some unique features to ThemeForest: 3 different AJAX transitions between page with ability to turn it ON/OFF at page or at global level, unlimited Parallax pages as bonus feature, unique design and many others. We are developing 2 new themes and we expect one to be ready in next 7 days. I hope new ones become our favorites.

minimum-theme-description-1

7) Do you focus mostly on theme sales or do you have other business interests you would like to mention? (Give a chance to plug your own website, etc)

Qode Interactive now is team of 9 people, we have designer, 6 developers and Ivan who is CCO and me as CTO. 2 developers are focused 100% on themes, while others are focused on different type of projects we do for our customers and helping with the themes if needed.

8) What sort of challenges have you faced when designing themes “for anyone” versus a specific client?

To design themes for specific client is much less complicated task, as we have a list of client’s requirements we need to meet. When we design a premium theme, we need always to make sure our design is unique, main features are unique, theme is highly customizable so it can be applied to many different businesses.

9) In your opinion what is the difference between a premium/paid theme and a “free theme”?

From our point of view, main difference is in unique design and features premium theme offers and in customer support.

10) What have been the biggest surprises to you developing themes? Or what have you enjoyed the most about designing great themes?

I believed in our team and I knew that we will make success with the themes, but as MINIMUM is our first theme, after it started selling and after we got feedback from clients, I was impressed how hard work and learning process last couple of years is turning so fast into success. I am so proud of our team…

parallax2

11) When creating a new theme what are your priorities, or do those come after “creating something cool and new”?

Qode Interactive priority in general and that also applies to themes design & development is to create unique interactive web sites and projects, mainly focusing on unique front-end features, bringing user experience to highest level.

12) What is your normal process for creating a theme? Do you start with a pencil, PhotoShop, or dive right into coding?

Ivan and our designer are creative team of our company. Before even starting with design, there are hundreds of hours of research and brainstorming, so new design can bring amazing new features.

13) What are some of your favorite new technologies that you use or are experimenting?

We are experimenting a lot with different AJAX transitions. This is our unique feature at ThemeForest and we want to get it to the level of perfection

14) Any side projects you would like to discuss?

Here are some or ours most featured projects we did for our customers:

www.dobrota.rs
www.ivko.com
www.lutrija.rs

15) Where do you seek inspiration for your work? Any particular designers, artists, or sites that you use?

Definitely, awwwards, we all love it

16) If you have any superhero power what would it be and why?

I would like to be able to teleport to any place on Earth. Wouldn’t be cool to get there for an interview and then have a coffee in Rome?

coffee in rome

Stock broker turns WordPress theme developer?

Today we hear the interesting tale of a former stock broker that was not happy with the WordPress theme he purchased, so he now creates his own magazine WordPress themes and more.

MH Themes

1) If you don’t mind sharing, what is your real name and where do you live?

My name is Michael Hebenstreit, I’m 31 years old and I live together with my wife in Münster, Germany.

2) How did you get started in developing themes?

About two years ago I started an online magazine and bought a WordPress theme for it. But I noticed quite fast that the theme I bought was not like I wanted it in every aspect. So I started to modify it to fit my individual needs. As I found out what opportunities there are, and since I had a lot of fun modifying the theme, I eventually started to learn more about HTML, CSS, PHP and jQuery and began to create my own themes for several projects. Now I really enjoy working on WordPress themes for other people and I plan to launch more and more themes in the future.

3) Do you have any artistic training? (yes, crayons count)

No, I worked for years in the financial sector at several banks and an online broker firm. The last 5 years I worked as a stock broker and traded stocks / derivatives for institutions and private investors. So, developing WordPress themes started more as an hobby for me but is now getting more and more important in my life. I am working now on improving my skills as a programmer and web developer to release software and apps in the future, too.

4) How did you get starting with programming in general?

As I said earlier, it was quite a process for me. Realizing that a product did not fit my needs, learning how to solve this and then improving my skills to create more great stuff.

5) What was your first theme and when did you develop it?

I have created a few themes yet, but they were more for personal projects I was working on. The first commercial theme I launched was the MH Magazine WordPress Theme which is available through my website MHthemes.com. It is a responsive magazine theme for magazine websites or any other editorial related projects. Highlights of the theme are the fully widgetized homepage templates and the implementation of the WP Customizer with integrated theme options which let you setup and style the theme with little effort.

MH Magazine Theme

6) What is the favorite theme you have developed and why?

My favorite theme is absolutely the MH Magazine theme. I’ve put so much time in this project and I love to see that people using it are happy with the theme and recommend it to other bloggers and webmasters. The theme was launched just a month ago and more and more websites are using it and I’m getting pretty cool feedback and very useful tips to improve the theme with coming updates.

7) Do you focus mostly on theme sales or do you have other business interests you would like to mention? (Give a chance to plug your own website, etc)

As mentioned, I run a couple of websites, mostly for search-engine-optimization, and some magazines, e.g. a German website about babies and related topics (http://www.babyrocks.de/). But I will focus more on theme development because it is so much fun and it’s great to see that others love to use my themes. But at the moment it is still an hobby, this has the advantage, that I don’t have to earn a lot of money with this and can focus on creating great themes without pressure.

8) What sort of challenges have you faced when designing themes “for anyone” versus a specific client?

That is in fact an interesting question, because I noticed that it makes really a difference if you create a theme for yourself or a client/user. If you make it for yourself, it does not have to be „perfect“, because you know how you will use the theme and it does not have to be „waterproof“. But if you create a theme for „anyone“, it is really hard work. You have to make sure the theme works in all kind of situations and scenarios and that there are theme options implemented, so that a user can setup the theme very easily. That sounds easy, but in reality you have to think of so many things, but that is it, what makes theme development so challenging and fun, too. I love to solve problems.

9) In your opinion what is the difference between a premium/paid theme and a “free theme”?

There are a lot of cool free themes out there and some of them have premium features as well. I think the main difference is, that premium themes come usually with free support and free updates and have more features included. There is a free version of MH Magazine, too, and it can be downloaded for free on the MH Themes website. It is a basic version of course with much less functionality than the premium version which can be purchased for only $39 USD.

10) What have been the biggest surprises to you developing themes? Or what have you enjoyed the most about designing great themes?

I was really surprised how clients love to communicate and improve the theme. It is not only a product, but it is more a „team-work“ project to create a fantastic theme with the key features everyone needs to run a great magazine website. So I’m always open for feedback, critics or tips to improve the theme and I would love to help more bloggers and webmasters to setup their website with a theme that meet their needs created by MH Themes.

11) When creating a new theme what are your priorities, or do those come after “creating something cool and new”?

Like always, the first thing is the idea about what you plan to do. Usually I start realizing my ideas immediately and work on it step by step. When the process has started, other ideas come time by time and can affect the theme creation in different ways.

12) What is your normal process for creating a theme? Do you start with a pencil, PhotoShop, or dive right into coding?

I’m not a graphic designer and I do not even have PhotoShop. When I have an idea for a theme or know what I need for a next project I start coding immediately and let my idea grow in the browser. When the basics are done, I add design elements until I’m perfectly satisfied with the look of the theme.

13) What are some of your favorite new technologies that you use or are experimenting?

It’s amazing what is possible since the new features of HTML5 came out. Web development isn’t just creating websites anymore. Now it’s possible to create fantastic games or apps with web technology as well and I’m really curious how this technology will evolve in the future. I’m sure that there are amazing things to come!

14) Any side projects you would like to discuss?

No, at the moment I focus on theme development and there is no time for any side projects, unless the websites I am running anyway. One I have mentioned before.

15) Where do you seek inspiration for your work? Any particular designers, artists, or sites that you use?

Inspiration is just everywhere, it can be other websites, fotos or even just when you watch a movie. I’m not focused on a specific source. When I have an idea, it’s there, but I’m not looking for it. As I said earlier there is no pressure and I don’t have to produce themes like a bee its honey. 🙂

16) If you have any superhero power what would it be and why?

I would like to have full control over time. A day has 24 hours and that’s a bad joke! It’s much too less to do all the great things I would like to do and sleeping is really boring but necessary. I would love to change that! 🙂

mh_magazine_2

Meet the Shock Family

Today we talk with the Shock Family, developers of the Photography Portfolio Theme:

img_13537065063820

An exceptional effect has been applied into this template: the picture of a camera in the background with the texture that makes it appear to be printed over leather. Default logo has a fantastic shutter icon to illustrate the goal of the page, and content boxes have a cool grid background. Layout makes it perfect for photographers portfolios and photography related business. This theme also comes with some great features like:

– Ability to choose from 4 different sliders. (or no slider)
– Fully responsive (adaptable to any device, ipad, iphone, android)
– Easily create GUI elements (menus, sliders, galleries, buttons, tooltips, notifications, lightboxes, toggle menus, tabbed content, and more) Bootstrap Ready.
– Unlimited layouts with our layout generator. Create unlimited widget areas in top, bottom and lateral areas. Per page basis.
– Internationalized in: Spanish English french, German Portuguese Source files included, full documentation,
– Working contact form with validations and captcha.
– Photo gallery, services page, products system and testimonials pages with categories and lightbox ready.
– HTML/CSS version

Hi, we are Shock family, we live and work in Bogota, Colombia. We move in different areas of graphic and web design. When creating blogs for our growing company, we saw the high demand of themes for WordPress and decided to make our own. Some of our artistic training comes from university studies; however, they don’t teach you all you need to know. Satisfying a customer – that is when the real training begins.

We started programming when Adobe Flash was still alive and well. We have a lot of good projects, Iconshock is the biggest icons site with more than 1 million quality icons, Jquery Slider Shock is an amazing slider and we would say the most complete one in the internet. When making themes for anyone, people eventually finds the perfect theme for them. In the other hand, with us, people have the power to create by themselves the perfect theme without any coding skills required with our theme generator.

In my opinion what the difference between a premium theme and a “free theme” is support. We work to develop great designs of all kind and choose some of them to make available for free. However, if you buy something from us and need some of help with it please let us know and we will do whatever is in our power to satisfy you. What we enjoy the most is to hear when people says that they love our themes.

When creating a new theme, it is more something like creating something cool and new and if there is something we would need to take care of, we add it to our theme. For creating a theme, most of our greatest ideas were first drawings of robots and monsters that one of our designers likes to do like for example here www.designshock.com/vector-monster/. We are always trying new technologies and right now experimenting with alternatives to PHP for future projects. Bootstrap is so demanded now, so we have it in all our themes.

We would like to announce we are giving a 500mb gift of pure quality design to all web ninjas out there as part of our launching campaign. They will love it. Inspiration comes from our mind, but it never hurts to have lots of pretty stuff to work with on projects. If we could have any superhero power, we would choose Batman’s ability to overpass everything and anyone. Doesn’t matter who the enemy is, Batman always finds the way.

batman

WYSIJA – Say what?

Today with talk with Kim Gjerstad or WSIJA – what’s that stand for? Read on, and be amazed….

1) If you don’t mind sharing, what is your real name as many people only know your screen name, and where do you live?

We’re a team of 6 guys: Jonathan, Adrien, Ben, Ami, Marco and myself, Kim. We’re spread in France, Vietnam, Poland and Spain.

jo-kim-adrien-ben

2) How did you get started in developing themes?

Two years ago, we decided that WordPress needed a new solution for newsletters. We were tired of third party solutions and wanted to offer a simple approach to designing and sending your newsletters.

4) How did you get starting with programming in general?

In this project, we have 3 developers and 1 support staff. As for myself, I pretty much do everything else: design upcoming features, project management, marketing, etc.

7) Do you focus mostly on theme sales or do you have other business interests you would like to mention?

Right now, we’re solely focused on developing Wysija. We’re also looking at the services we can offer around the plugin.

8) What sort of challenges have you faced when designing themes “for anyone” versus a specific client?

That’s a key question. We got tons of feature requests which is pretty awesome. But you have to decide which ones will benefit the common users, and which ones will be able to sell more. Too many features is our fear. We’re always careful in adding some new.

9) In your opinion what is the difference between a premium/paid theme and a “free theme”?

Support. Free plugins and themes are awesome, but with such a large community of users, authors can’t possibly support everybody effectively.

WYSIJA Logo

10) What have been the biggest surprises to you developing themes? Or what have you enjoyed the most about designing great themes?

The great feedback from our users. WordPress has an awesome community which respects those who are a part of it. Any startup has to reach out to its users and listen. It’s a privilege to do so within WordPress.

11) When creating a new theme what are your priorities, or do those come after “creating something cool and new”?

Our priorities when releasing new features is to make sure that any bugs or unexpected issues is quickly resolved. This is why we release fairly often.

12) What is your normal process for creating a theme (feature)? Do you start with a pencil, PhotoShop, or dive right into coding?

We quickly wireframe a new feature in Balsamiq. We write some tech specifications. We review them together to make sure that the feature is easy to understand and use. During the coding phase, we might realize that we forgot a scenario and reassess.

13) What are some of your favorite new technologies that you use or are experimenting?

Our pet project has been a spam score tool: http://mail-tester.com/ It’s not only practical, it’s actually quite fun to use.

Otherwise, Jonathan is always on the lookout for any Javascript libraries that might be useful to integrate in our visual editor.

15) Where do you seek inspiration for your work? Any particular designers, artists, or sites that you use?

There’s inspiration anywhere there’s interactivity. We’re primarily focused on offering an great user experience and we try to find examples on our apps, sites, plugins. In many regards, the UI team of WordPress itself is quite inspiring: http://make.wordpress.org/ui/

16) If you have any superhero power what would it be and why?

Spiderman. He doesn’t shoot bullets. He shoots the web.

spiderman shooting the web

The Three Stooges of Commative

commative logo1) If you don’t mind sharing, what is your real name as many people only know your screen name, and where do you live?

We’re a bit of a secretive bunch actually; we’d like to go by The Three Musketeers, but it’s probably more like The Three Stooges. We also wouldn’t mind living in France, but sunny California isn’t so bad either.

2) How did you get started in developing themes?

We saw that a lot of people loved Magento, but that they wanted more out of it without the trouble of dealing with too many conflicting themes and extensions. Ultimento was a way to include all the critical pieces a good online store needs in one simple package.

3) Do you have any artistic training?

We scribbled with crayons as kids?

4) How did you get starting with programming in general?

Curiosity. We hear it kills cats and we really like cats so instead of that we put our curiosity towards writing scripts for mIRC.

5) What was your first theme and when did you develop it?

We’ve done a lot of other ecommerce work, but Ultimento was actually our first theme way back in 2009. It’s come a long long way since then. In fact, we just put together a video that’ll show you around everything it does today.

6) What is the favorite theme you have developed and why?

This one required a lot of internal deliberation between the three of us, but we finally agreed on Ultimento. Probably because it’s the only theme we’ve built.

7) Do you focus mostly on theme sales or do you have other business interests you would like to mention?

Magento templates and general Magento extension sales are certainly our sweet spot. We do some Magento consulting when time allows, but we prefer to focus on the software side of things. Everything we offer, from Magento themes to extensions to consulting, runs through our Commative site.

8) What sort of challenges have you faced when designing themes “for anyone” versus a specific client?

You can please all of the people some of the time or some of the people all of the time. Everyone has different views as to what they want their site to be or how it should look or how it should work. No template will ever satisfy every person, but we made Ultimento very flexible so that users could make it their own.

9) In your opinion what is the difference between a premium/paid theme and a “free theme”?

We believe free themes suffer from a lack of quality features and they generally come with less than stellar support. We know we’re not the cheapest theme out there, but we also know we’re the highest rated theme on all of MagentoConnect. At the end of the day its quality of product and support for that product that make the difference.

surprise

10) What have been the biggest surprises to you developing themes?

Or what have you enjoyed the most about designing great themes? Time. As much as we knew what we wanted to do we always found ourselves tweaking Ultimento to make each little feature work exactly the way we wanted. That constant evaluation and revision takes more time than you’d think. On the flipside though, getting things just the way you wanted is really rewarding.

11) When creating a new theme what are your priorities, or do those come after “creating something cool and new”?

We want to craft products that make ecommerce work. We try to focus our 30 years of collective ecommerce experience to identify what features are truly most important to our customers. We want to raise conversions and do it in a safe, stable manner. That comes with making a theme that is user friendly, intuitive, and fast.

12) What is your normal process for creating a theme?

Do you start with a pencil, PhotoShop, or dive right into coding? We originally started by writing down a bunch of ideas and email addresses on pieces of paper and attaching them to carrier pigeons to see where our ideas would go. I don’t know where our ideas ended up, but we get a lot more spam than we used to. Now we just have SCRUM meetings.

13) What are some of your favorite new technologies that you use or are experimenting?

I’d have to say we’re really digging MongoDB. It’s not exactly bleeding edge, but it has a lot of features that make it compelling and attractive to use.

14) Any side projects you would like to discuss?

We’d love to discuss running a winery if anyone is offering. We’re really very dedicated, hard workers and won’t let you down; especially if you need help with taste tests. If you’re talking technology, Commative is it. It’s what we focus on.

15) Where do you seek inspiration for your work?

Any particular designers, artists, or sites that you use? We’re definitely attracted to simplicity in design and the belief that presentation should be clear and concise. This certainly harkens to the Apple hardware design philosophy, but in ecommerce you can see similarly minded work on sites such as REI.com, the MOMAstore.org, and jenis.com (we’re partial to ice cream).

16) If you have any superhero power what would it be and why?

Can we have the superpower to have everyone else’s superpowers? What if no one else has any super powers? Then what? I suppose we’d have to take the ability to transform ourselves into French Musketeers that eat wine flavored ice cream. That’s a super power, right?

three musketeers of commative

Turkish WordPress theme developer Ant Eksiler

Pupa - Responsive Retina WordPress Theme

1) If you don’t mind sharing, what is your real name, and where do you live?

My name is Ant Ekşiler, I am 28 years old and I currently live in Istanbul, Turkey.

2) How did you get started in developing themes?

I was always interested in making websites and when I was around 17, I started looking for a reliable CMS system. That’s when I first met WordPress. It had an another name back then.

3) Do you have any artistic training? (yes, crayons count)

My grandfather was a oil paint artist, so I guess thats where I get my design intuition. But as far as proper design training, I am self taught.

4) How did you get starting with programming in general?

I attended Pennsylvania State University Computer Science undergraduate programme. That’s how I started coding and learned my first language, Java.

5) What was your first theme and when did you develop it?

I am not quite sure, but it has to be around 2005. I made an automobile owners club website with WordPress and I still own it.

6) What is the favorite theme you have developed and why?

I guess this has to be my latest theme, PUPA, because the coding is top-notch. It has a brilliant backend that makes it easy for buyers to customize the theme. Also, its very modular, if I want to remove a feature, I’ll just remove a line, and theme won’t even break.

On the other hand, this is my first retina-ready theme developer on a brand-new Retina MacBook Pro.

7) Do you focus mostly on theme sales or do you have other business interests you would like to mention?

Currently, I work as a Senior Web Interface developer for one of the largest web agency in Turkey. I am also an avid entrepreneur. One of my websites, an event planning website, got funded by Startup Labs.

8) Wow, sounds like you have lots happening – would you like to provide more details and a link to some of your other ventures? Perhaps talk in more detail about your experience with StartupLabs?

Wedding is pretty hard for both the bride and the groom. Before I got married, me and my wife had to run around searching and making deals for vendors and event places. It was quite tiring. Then I realized that there is no specific website to fill the nice in Turkish internet market. That’s why we opened Aktivito event planning. You can list your upcoming events, and we will bring you the best offers. Its not an automated process, and we work really hard to make our customers happy. We try to focus on corporate events on winter and weddings during summer.

9) What sort of challenges have you faced when designing themes “for anyone” versus a specific client?

What I see is, you need to add a lot of options to make the theme flexible for any type of layout & look. However you should never compromise code quality while doing so.

10) In your opinion what is the difference between a premium/paid theme and a “free theme”?

It has to be flexible and easy to use, but nowadays even the free theme offer lots of options. In my opinion, the difference comes from code quality and design. Most authors choose to write custom functions to replace built-in WordPress functionalities. What good is WordPress if you open index.php and all you see is custom functions, classes or includes? I pay utmost attention so that even a WordPress starter can understand what the theme is doing.

11) What have been the biggest surprises to you developing themes? Or what have you enjoyed the most about designing great themes?

It still amazes me how far have premium theme market has come. The quality has increased so much, that it makes you question, in the future will you ever need to contact an agency for custom work.

12) When creating a new theme what are your priorities, or do those come after “creating something cool and new”?
I try to use the latest technologies. Front-end development is progressing very fast and you need to stay up-to-date. Design-wise, it has to be fresh, and it should not scare away the buyer by being “too complex”.

13) What is your normal process for creating a theme? Do you start with a pencil, PhotoShop, or dive right into coding?

After creating a very basic mockup in Photoshop, I add colors and additional elements in the HTML. With the help of CSS3, you rarely need Photoshop. That’s why I end up designing the theme in Photoshop after all the coding is done. After creating a couple of HTML pages, I dive straight into WordPress coding. Once I get simple page views, I continue adding functionalities one by one.

14) What are some of your favorite new technologies that you use or are experimenting?

Lately, I have incorporated the use of SASS and Compass for CSS. It has cut hours on my development time.

15) Where do you seek inspiration for your work? Any particular designers, artists, or sites that you use?

Dribbble.com and Behance.com is mainly my source for inspiration.

16) If you have any superhero power what would it be and why?

Time travel. That way I can go back time and submit U-design to Themeforest before internq7 !

Time Travel

ThemeSquirrel gets a DMCA request?

Today, we talk with another website template author, Jelena P, who we were “introduced” via a DMCA request. For those of you that don’t know that’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which generally gets filed when someone feels there copyrighted work is violated. Imagine my surprise when I logged into Google Webmaster Tools with an email from Google saying they have removed a URL due to a DMCA request.

Well, it has all worked out – after contacting Jelena, a female theme developer on ThemeForest and elsewhere, we quickly figured it was slight error. Jelena was filling a DMCA request against every URL she discovered displaying her work covered under copyright without investigating if ThemeSquirrel was legitimately promoting her work, which we were of course. Anyhow, she merely had to alert Google the DMCA request was in error, and all was good. So here is Jelena:

tflogo300300My name is Jelena and I live in South Eastern Europe. Yes, funny about DMCA – sometimes I file DMCA but it is not possible to beat piracy completely. At least I feel better to do that occasionally as many theme authors do. But this was the first time I’ve made “collateral damage”. 🙂

I started developing themes recently, few months ago. Maybe that is not usual but before that I was complete beginner in web design and creating premium themes was my first goal to achieve when I started to learn web design. I don’t have formal education in design and before this I had completely different job but then I changed my profession… As a female author – I don’t have any specific challenges in design world just sometimes I have an impression that people are positively surprised and I suppose that it is common in every business where men are majority of colleagues.

I’m self taught person and everything I know about design I learned on the Internet. Before web design I had some experience in graphic design and photography. When developing a theme for WordPress or in general I still just design and code ( PSD/HTML/CSS/JS ) but I have a plan to learn basic programming, probably for Word Press. I just need to find a time for that.

Wedding - Premium HTML5 and CSS3 Template

My first premium template was the wedding template you see above and it was developed 5 months ago. My favorite template is “Light” business template below. This template is my greatest achievement in design and front end development for now based on knowledge I currently have. But as I said that is just for now. 🙂

Light - Facebook Business Retina Template

Beside developing premium themes I work as a freelancer and portfolio that I have on Themeforest helps me a lot in finding jobs as a freelancer. Designing premium themes ( themes “for anyone” ) often requires very generic work though themes are often rejected for “lack of uniqueness” by theme reviewers. Author needs to find good balance between not to be too generic and not to be too unique because customers comes there to buy a template, and template is something generic in it’s definition. Working for specific client is sometimes easier if client doesn’t bothers you much and don’t have 1000 “small changes” to try when design is almost over. But there are difficult clients also. In that case developing themes is way to be free in designing. Premium themes, especially ones on Themeforest :), always follow latest trends and standard in design and developing. That can’t be said for free themes.

What do I most enjoy about developing themes? I have most enjoyed the knowledge that I got from designing premium themes because competition makes you always try to work harder and to learn more. My priority when creating themes is to achieve standards that my competition creates and these days competition is really tough.

When I get an idea I usually draw a sketch on paper and later try to put it in Photoshop as some basic sketch but
very fast I start coding and then once in PSD format – usually rapidly changes. In the end I just do some graphics in Photoshop if it is needed and all design completely finish develop it in code. Responsive design is a must these days so I use responsive CSS framework for that, mostly Foundation framework. Also high resolution design is becoming more of a requirement with more retina displays appearing. I love jQuery and CSS3 effects. Too bad that CSS3 is not supported in older browsers. It’s much easier then jQuery, at least for me.

I get inspiration from checking my competition, finding information about latest trends, mixing it all together in my head, waiting for images to start to pop-up in front of my eyes and try to make something nice and fine from that. Would I want to be a super-hero? I just checked list of super(hero) powers and I think that would be something like mind-control, telepathy, invisibility etc. But it is interesting as an idea just for a moment, if it would happen to be present all the time I’ll probably regret. Conclusion – I don’t really need superpowers. 🙂