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 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.
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?