Today, we have got the chance to interview David Vongries, the founder of Page Builder Framework and WordPress Custom Dashboard Plugin. He is working since 2010 and helping WordPress agencies all over the world. In this interview with Cloudways, he shares the highlights of his professional career and WordPress development challenges.
Cloudways: Hello David, and thank you for joining us today. Can you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
David: Hi Saud, thanks for having me! It’s always a pleasure to connect and chat with you guys at Cloudways!
The first time I used WordPress was back in 2010 at a friend’s office. I needed to set up an online store to help a friend of mine sell his merchandise. Before that, I had only built a couple of static websites with basic HTML & CSS
I literally had no idea what to do.
Luckily, my buddy whom I was working with at the office, introduced me to WordPress. I remember how overwhelming it was looking at all the theme files. In fact, I didn’t even know what a theme was. My friend told me to use this “Blank Starter Theme” that he had so I just jumped right into it.
Little did I know that I could have just installed a prebuilt theme with proper WooCommerce integration and I would have been good to go.
I guess he wanted me to learn something, right?
So long story short, that is how I got into theme development right from the start. I had to learn the structure of a theme inside and out before I could even get started with the website.
It was really fun and I actually had the store up and running in about a month.
From that day onwards, I was excited and wanted to learn more about WordPress and theme development.
I ended up building every website from scratch using the starter theme mentioned above. I love the bare-bones approach because it gives you full control and allows you to build a lightning-fast website. You don’t need to have a bunch of features included in the theme that will never be used.
The obvious downside of it was that I constantly had to repeat myself writing the entire stylesheet for each website from scratch.
That changed when I started to work on Page Builder Framework – a minimalistic base theme for my future projects.
Cloudways: What’s Page Builder Framework all about. What problems does it fix for the customers?
David: What started as a base theme for my personal projects, quickly became the go-to theme for many agencies, power users and industry experts.
Page Builder Framework combines minimalism with maximum flexibility and is super intuitive and easy-to-use at the same time.
As a web designer, I don’t want to be forced into a certain design by the theme. I want to design the theme myself – and every aspect of it. That’s what Page Builder Framework allows you to do.
The philosophy behind the theme is simple: To keep it as fast, clean and minimalistic as possible. From the codebase to the CSS output and everything in between.
That’s what I call the “Framework” approach. Less is more.
Honestly, I think I can write an entire book around that topic. I’ve taken it so far that I hired someone to do a complete code audit for the theme. In fact, I do code audits myself from time to time to see if we can optimize any of the existing processes.
I think Page Builder Framework is the right theme for everyone who wants to design all aspects of their website with a minimalistic, fast and reliable theme as a basis.
Of course, as the name suggests, the theme was built with Page Builders in mind which makes it a perfect fit if you’re using Elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy or any other page builder. Oh and not to forget: Gutenberg 🙂
Cloudways: What was the biggest challenge in getting Page Builder Framework to market? How did you overcome development challenges?
David: Page Builder Framework was very well received after its release. There are some things I would change if I were to launch it again today.
For instance, for the initial release, it was a premium-only theme. In other words, it wasn’t available from the WordPress repository for quite a while. Even after it was separated into the theme and premium add-on, it took us around six months to get it approved and listed in the WordPress repository.
If you’re planning to release a theme, do yourself a favor and have a free version of it in the WordPress repository. You can’t get as much exposure for free anywhere else.
As of development challenges, there aren’t really any. The team around Page Builder Framework is growing and features will be released more quickly in the future.
Sometimes I spend so much time thinking about each feature that I overthink it and the releases may be slowed down by me. However, that is intentional and shows once more how much thought goes into the entire process before we add something to the core.
Cloudways: What is your dev flow? What tools and services do you use for maintaining the Page Builder Framework?
David: Sublime Text 3 is my go-to editor. Apart from that, we use all the good stuff like Slack for communication, GitHub and BitBucket to work on our repositories, and Trello to manage tasks + as an internal roadmap.
Cloudways: You were at WordCamp Europe recently. How was your experience? How did you promote Page Builder Framework at the WordCamp?
It was actually the first WordCamp that I ever attended and it was absolutely amazing! Pretty much all my online friends were there whom I was able to meet in person for the first time.
It was great to hang out with so many like-minded people at that incredible venue in Berlin. Three very busy days packed with WordPress awesomeness, good food (shoutout Andrew Palmer!) and great conversations. Overall, a lot of positive energy! And heck, I didn’t even make it to any of the talks.
I only had a couple of meetings scheduled up front and wasn’t going there just to promote the theme. I was more looking forward to having a great time. Everything else just came naturally. I made a lot of new friends and even a few, very interesting partnerships arose that we are still working on.
Cloudways: Are you planning to attend any upcoming WordCamps?
Cloudways: How do you think WordCamps contribute to the WordPress community? Do you have any tips for brands for showcasing their products/services at these events?
David: These WordCamps are great for networking. Everyone can show up and talk about their amazing product or service. If you don’t want to, or can’t afford a sponsored booth, don’t worry, just go there, be yourself and talk to people. Oh and make sure to attend every possible after-party. That’s where the magic happens.
Cloudways: Can you name five people who have inspired you in your WordPress career?
David: Paul Lacey – He’s one of the nicest people in the WordPress space. Writing this down makes me realize that we haven’t talked in a while. Hit me up, Paul 🙂
James Farmer – I made a hairdryer joke in front of him and I don’t think he found it funny. What a lovely chap though! I appreciate him a lot.
Nathan Wrigley – Such a nice personality. I find it astonishing what he and David Waumsley have created with the WP Builds podcast.
Vito Peleg – Vito is a great friend of mine and a marketing beast. He taught me what can be achieved with WordPress and how to go from 0 to 100 real quick.
Lee Jackson – Lee was one of my early friends in the WordPress space. And gosh, I made a ton of new friends because of him at his Agency Transformation Live event. Lee is a legend!
Cloudways: Would you agree that web hosting drives the internet? What are your thoughts on cloud hosting and how do you compare/contrast it with traditional shared hosting for businesses?
David: Absolutely. Cloud hosting brings unparalleled performance and I’ve been using it for a long time. The great thing is, it doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge to get started with a service like Cloudways that comes with a great user interface and takes care of the server management for you.
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Cloudways: What do you do in your spare time? Can you share some interesting stories/pictures of your hobbies/travel?
David: I bought a camper van recently in an attempt to make me get out of my comfort zone a bit more and travel around.
As it has partially worked (I still don’t travel as much as I should), here are a few pictures from the tours.
Cloudways: Can you please share pics of your workstation.
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Saud is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WooCommerce Hosting Platform. Saud is responsible for creating buzz, spread knowledge, and educate the people about WordPress in the Community around the globe. In his free time, he likes to play cricket and learn new things on the Internet. You can email him at [email protected]