Dimi Baitanciuc has been in the WordPress game nearly since its inception. In the years to come, he’s made a big name for himself in the industry, starting out as a UI/UX designer and going on to co-found one of the most popular WordPress page builders in the world, Brizy.
I’m beyond thrilled to have him with us today as he takes us through his journey, his inspiration behind starting Brizy, how his 10-year-old nephew showed him the true potential of this page builder, as well as why Cloudways is a perfect fit for any Brizy user. Strap in!
Aleksandar: Dimi, let’s start with a brief introduction. Please tell us about your career before WordPress.
Dimi: Before WordPress…seems like a lifetime ago. I’ve worked as a UI/UX designer in a design agency in Bucharest. That is right before finishing college in 2007. Worked there for around 3 years with big(er) corporate clients. Met one of the Brizy partners (Bogdan) in the same design department, and as they say, the rest is history.
Aleksandar: How was your first interaction with WordPress and what was so special about it that made you take it up as a career?
Dimi: When we started ThemeFuse in 2009, we weren’t thinking in terms of WordPress being special. We just wanted to make a name for ourselves and WordPress seemed to be the open CMS that was on the rise and in need of some quality design. I remember seeing a lot of cookie-cutter designs that screamed: “I’m a template” and we thought we could bring some creativity and a breath of fresh air by creating niche designs for certain industries.
Here is one take of an Art Gallery HTML project we sold on ThemeForest back in 2009.
Aleksandar: You are also passionate about web design – what inspired you to follow this career path?
Dimi: I had, well, still have two friends that were doing web design, UI/UX, brand identity, back in the day and I was fascinated about how you can bring your users on a journey through design, colors, and forms.
I think some of it comes from my parents as well. My mother, for example, majored in art & painting in college and was an art teacher for many years. I was exposed to many creative endeavors my mother pursued, and most likely that had an influence as well.
Aleksandar: Could you please tell us about Themefuse? How did you end up founding this company and what were your “Eureka moments”?
Dimi: Back in 2009, Bogdan and I decided we wanted to make it on our own and forget about the 9 to 5. The new gig turned out to be 9 to 9, but when you are working for yourself and doing what you love, it doesn’t seem like work.
We started selling designs and HTML projects on ThemeForest under the name WebCrafters and realized that the big(er) bucks were in this CMS called WordPress. Us being designers, we needed some development partners to help us with the WordPress part, so we found (after a bunch of failed attempts) 2 developers and started ThemeFuse together, and thus our WordPress themes business.
One of our Eureka moments was when we realized we can fly on our own without ThemeForest. We decided to remove our themes from Envato and sell them on our website as a standalone premium themes shop. Besides the obvious bottom-line increase, this allowed us to put our name on the premium themes map, which helped a lot even to this day when most of our customers from ThemeFuse are using Brizy.
Aleksandar: What were some of the challenges you faced when you were starting this company? How did you overcome them?
Dimi: The biggest challenge was to find the developers to help us implement our designs in WordPress. There were a lot of developers, but the problem was finding the right ones that you could trust, who are capable and serious and all in to do the job.
After a couple of failed attempts at finding developers to help us translate our designs into WordPress, we meet Alex and Sergiu (the other 2 partners in Brizy today). From that point on in 2010, we got into WordPress so to speak, and we’ve been creating all projects together as the core team: ThemeFuse, Unyson (a WP framework with 300k active installs), PixelKit (a premium design kits website, that was sold a couple of years back) and currently Brizy (a website builder for WordPress & Cloud).
Aleksandar: Let’s talk about the Brizy Page Builder. What was your inspiration behind this product?
Dimi: Starting Brizy was kind of natural. We saw the writing on the wall for some time, and it was clear that visual website building is the future. Our partner Sergiu had a small team working on this website builder “pet” project even back in the ThemeFuse days. It was a cloud builder not related to WordPress at first, but once we decided we needed to bring that to WP and reinvent ourselves everything was very clear.
One thing we welcome every day is challenging any assumption of how a website builder works. We saw a lot of “same” products that didn’t really tackle the major usability problems the majority of website builders have.
We did a lot of benchmarking on the products available and decided right from the get-go we needed to do something different, something focused on ease of use and a great user experience. And it was painfully obvious that the approach some of these products took (with hundreds of options crowded together in a sidebar) was not the right way from the ease of use standpoint.
As with the design back in 2009 when we started ThemeFuse, we felt we could have a say in the website building space and it turned out we were right. There was an acute need for a fresh take in UI and UX. A product that is indeed easy to use and doesn’t require any designer or developer skills to use it.
Aleksandar: There are tons of page builders out there. What makes Brizy so special?
Dimi: Brizy is special because it was built with an (obsessed) focus on ease of use and a great user experience. We call that “The Brizy Way”. I’d argue that Brizy is one of the best no-code website builders that (truly) anyone can use.
When we started work on Brizy, I always felt we were on the right path. But sometimes when you’re too close to the problem, it’s hard to truly appreciate if the solutions you’ve devised are the right ones.
This is what convinced me that we have something here:
Back in the day, I invited my nephew David (he was around 10 at that time) to the office. He had never heard of HTML, website building, PHP, or WordPress before in his life. I opened Brizy and told him to “create something” and only observed him, and this is what he did: https://america.brizy.site/ (his assignment for that week for school).
I knew right there that Brizy will be successful and will one day change the way we create websites.
Aleksandar: Has the launch of Gutenberg made page builders difficult to survive or is it the other way around?
Dimi: I think Gutenberg still has a long way to go to be a solution that can replace dedicated website builders like Brizy and others. I’m not convinced that Gutenberg wants to replace WordPress website builders in the future. But as it stands right now, it is clear that the needs of professionals (designers, developers, web agencies) are not met by Gutenberg and the way things are going I’m not sure they’ll be met very soon.
The team at Automatic had a great opportunity to reinvent how you build WordPress websites visually, but at the same time they couldn’t just scrap everything and start from scratch. They needed to take into account WordPress as a core (a product that suffered very minor UI and UX adjustments over the years). This is probably why Gutenberg would (most likely) always be a product with one foot in the past and one foot in the future.
The jury is still out. We’ll see.
One thing is certain, high-quality products that solve problems will always find a place no matter what the market, niche, or how crowded the space appears to be. And I think Brizy stands as a good example of that.
Aleksandar: If someone uses Brizy, then what type of server/hosting should they choose for better performance?
Dimi: We are making efforts to build Brizy as a tool that works with any kind of hosting, but we’ve found out in the last 3 years that some are better than others.
The main idea and this is how we explain it to our customers is to look at hosting as your foundation for your house. If the foundation is not strong, it matters little what you put on top, it will eventually crumble in terms of speed, performance, security, etc.
I personally always go with a managed cloud hosting that needs to take care of these very important (I’d even say crucial) aspects for me:
- Security – SSL certificates for my projects
- Backup and restore – this is very important with every website but especially important in WordPress where something is bound to go wrong at some point.
- CDN – this is a must for loading speed
- Cache (server-side or via a plugin) – very important for speed
- Migration tools – what if you want to leave at some point? Plus I think it speaks to customer care if a company offers migration tools.
- Scalable – choose something that lets you start small, and let you grow.
- Easy to use – this is more of a personal thing, probably because I’m in UI/UX, if the back end is not easy to understand and use I can’t handle it. Not a huge deal if the rest is great, but it’s a minus in my book
Please note that I haven’t mentioned the cost. Your “house foundation” is important. If you see $1/mo hosting, I’d stay away from that “foundation” no matter how many features they promise.
Anything between $15/mo – $29/mo can get you started with the best cloud hosting around. I’ve tested a lot of hosting providers in the past years and lately, I found myself using Cloudways more and more. I’m very impressed with the performance and features and glad we can recommend it to our customers on our hosting partner’s page on Brizy.
Aleksandar: You’re starting off an exciting project in partnership with Cloudways. Please tell us what you find most exciting about the project.
Dimi: Yes, the partnership and project have already started. We are offering Brizy as a 1-click install on Cloudways and I couldn’t be more excited to offer a streamlined, optimized, and fast website building solution to both our Brizy and Cloudways users.
Having a carefully crafted website building solution together with a powerful, fast but yet affordable cloud hosting at your fingertips is something that any web design professional or agency would appreciate.
Aleksandar: How do you think this will reshape the experience of your users?
Dimi: We are constantly asked by our customers what hosting works best with Brizy, and Cloudways will be one of our top answers going forward. Not only because of the speed, performance, and 24/7 support but mostly because we’ve thoroughly tested Brizy on Cloudways and we can vouch for everything.
Plus, having a worry-free 1-click install is a very powerful thing. You can set up your next client almost instantly without effort, you don’t need to know about hosting, how to install WordPress & Brizy. And even if you do know how to do everything manually, why would you?
Aleksandar: Thanks for this interview, Dimi! Please share an image of your workstation with our readers.
My workstation looks more like our YouTube studio/podcast studio/interview studio lately rather than a designer workstation, but here you go.
When I’m not at the desk, I usually work on the sofa in our office.