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Elijah Mills of Oxygen Builder on the WordPress Builder’s Breathtaking Performance

Updated on March 29, 2022

4 Min Read
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Originating from Indiana, Elijah Mills describes himself as an avid learner who values innovation and smart problem-solving. His experience in various fields throughout his career adds to a distinct perspective, and he welcomes new challenges with open arms. Of course, he’s most popularly known for designing, developing, and marketing one of the leading WordPress page builders – Oxygen Builder. Read on to learn more about his thoughts on the famous builder, its performance, and his insights on the future of WordPress.

Farhan: Hi Elijah, thanks a lot for taking time out for this interview. Can you tell us about yourself and what you do at Oxygen Builder?

Elijah: I currently act as the product manager for Oxygen. I oversee the product’s marketing, support, and development among other things. I started out with Oxygen as a support rep, and arrived at my current role in late 2019.

Farhan: We would love to know about your journey and time before stepping into the WordPress industry. Also, how long have you been working in this industry for?

Elijah: Prior to working in WordPress, I spent some time pursuing a career in music. When that didn’t work out, I found myself as the manager for a small town janitorial company. Once I had experienced that kind of work, I decided I’d rather fix computers, so I joined my family’s small IT company. That’s where I first started working with WordPress, and in 2018 I was hired on as Oxygen’s first support rep.

Farhan: It would be great if you could share the motivation and story behind creating Oxygen Builder. What challenges and obstacles did Louis Reingold go through in the initial years?

Elijah: As I understand it, he simply knew he could make something that solved a lot of the pain points that the builders of the time were experiencing. One of Oxygen’s primary goals was to output clean code and minimal bloat, which it accomplished. It was one of the first visual site builders for WordPress that was very performance conscious. While I wasn’t there for the early years, Oxygen 1.x was really a big learning experience. All the lessons learned from those early versions were put into practice with 2.0, and that’s the foundation we continue to build on today.

Farhan: Oxygen is one of the faster builders in terms of performance. Could you please share the techniques and technologies behind the famous page builder?

Elijah: It’s fairly simple. We disable the WordPress theme entirely, which gets rid of a lot of baggage. Then we only add back the stuff that’s needed. A lot of plugins, page builders, and themes will load JavaScript libraries indiscriminately. Something like a carousel has JavaScript that drives it. That JavaScript shouldn’t be loaded on a page where there’s no carousel. Applying this logic to the way Oxygen loads JavaScript and CSS resulted in huge performance gains over the competition.

Farhan: All page builders require a theme, but Oxygen works differently. I’ve noticed it overtakes the existing WordPress theme design, and users can start designing a website from scratch/pre-built Oxygen templates. This functionality makes Oxygen quite unique. What’s the idea and reason behind this remarkable phenomenon?

Elijah: Oxygen is all about performance and ultimate freedom. As I mentioned previously, removing the theme gives us a big performance gain immediately by knocking out a lot of unnecessary bloat that comes from the theme. And once the theme is out of the way, you can design literally everything in the Oxygen builder without having to worry about theme styles or the WordPress customizer. This was a very unique selling point when Oxygen came out – designing your whole site, header to footer, with a single tool.

Farhan: Oxygen is considered one of the best page builders in the market. How does one sustain the position in this constantly growing and competitive industry? What are the biggest challenges that one faces in maintaining their brand?

Elijah: My approach is to keep making Oxygen better. We don’t do a lot of marketing. We have a huge, enthusiastic community that spreads the word for us. I believe that if we keep releasing good features and a stable product, we maintain our position and our brand stays relevant.

Farhan: How do you see the future of WordPress page builders?

Elijah: Page builders will always be there for some segment of the market that wants to do things the built-in solutions can’t. Oxygen offers things like conditional display of any element based on PHP code, with a full API to add your own conditions. Stuff like this probably will never make it into core WordPress or Gutenberg. Advanced sites that need to be highly custom will need something like Oxygen to accommodate those needs.

Farhan: Web hosting plays a vital role in a website’s overall performance. What are your thoughts on managed cloud WordPress hosting providers?

Elijah: I think they’re generally great. I’ve used some that had really poor UX, e.g. the inability to do certain things in the management UI. This is really key for a great managed WordPress hosting provider. If stuff is going to be obfuscated, it’s critical that the important things are exposed for the users to interact within a frictionless manner.

Performance wise, we see platforms like Cloudways run Oxygen sites really well, even on the cheaper servers.

Farhan: It’s challenging but equally essential to balance your personal and professional lives. Do you feel the same? What do you do in your leisure time? What’s the biggest secret of maintaining perfect health and energy while working?

Elijah: I agree. I try to prioritize time with my family as much as possible. I’ve always said that time is the most valuable currency we have. We never get more of it. So we have to be very careful about how we trade it and what we get in return.

When I’m not working, I primarily spend time with my family. When I have a bit of time to myself, I generally turn to either developing personal projects (I’m always trying to learn about things like new JavaScript frameworks, accessibility) or designing board games that I’ll never publish.

I try to listen to good music with no vocals (I’m on soft Jazz lately), limit distractions, lots of daylight, and remember to respect my own process, which sometimes can look a lot like procrastinating.

Farhan: Do you have any recommendations or suggestions as to who we should feature next in our interview series?

Elijah: I’d love to hear from someone who works in website accessibility or develops an accessibility related plugin.

 

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Farhan Ayub

Farhan is a community manager at Cloudways. He loves to work with WordPress and has a passion for web development. Mostly, he spends his time interacting with the people in the WordPress community. Apart from his work life, Farhan spends his time gaming and playing sports. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]

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