Emanuel Blagonic is a designer and co-founder at Blagonic Brothers, a web agency based in Croatia. He has been in the business for more than 12 years and served 400+ clients in Croatia and worldwide. From the past 2 years, he is focusing on developing functional interfaces for web, mobile, and desktop applications. In this interview with Cloudways, he discusses his working experience and the challenges he faced during project development.
Cloudways: Hello Emanuel, first of all, thank you for taking some time for this interview. Could you please tell us a bit about your background? A few words about your experience as a journalist, web designer, and entrepreneur?
Emanuel: I built my first web page in 1997 in Netscape Navigator Gold while in high school, and am professionally in web business since 2003 when I co-founded my first company with two of my friends. From 1999 for a few years, I worked as a journalist on a local TV station which proved an invaluable experience, making me (eventually) a better and more compassionate person I am today. Being an entrepreneur in Croatia is not always easy, but it gives you the opportunity to make a change — something that is really important to me. As a designer, I was a loud advocate of web standards in Croatia, and with friends from the community — helped shape the industry. As a WordPress enthusiast, for years I wrote articles about WordPress in online and offline media promoting WordPress and open source in general.
Cloudways: You and your brother Lucijan started working together and founded Blagonic Brothers WordPress in Croatia. Would you like to tell your role and responsibilities over there? How is your working experience at your own agency?
Emanuel: Yes, we started our company in 2010 if I remember correctly — not that good for years. We worked together earlier in my previous company but then set apart for a few years before reuniting again as Blagonic Brothers. My role in the company was sort of a “business development/creative”. I worked with clients to define their (web) business goals and then managed their web projects we ended up building. As a Creative Director (which is basically just a nice name that impresses clients in our case), I worked in defining creatives and strategies of their web presences.
Cloudways: What is the vision and mission of Blagonic Brothers agency? How are you different from other agencies?
Emanuel: Our vision was always conversion and getting the most for our clients while working with passion the job we love. With our clients, we never felt as an agency, but rather as a partner that delivers a top-quality product for a certain price. With many of them, we are now friends, which is actually just an upgrade of our business relationship. I believe that exactly this kind of passion is what brought a lot of clients to us as they stayed with us in our good and bad times. Today, Lucijan and I are not working together as much as we used too — we work on a few projects per year, as we set on a journey of exploration to see what will inspire us in the years to come.
Cloudways: What advice would you give to beginners and student looking to create a WordPress site for business purposes?
Emanuel: You should always “sell” the result and be passionate about what you do.
Cloudways: What are your views about the future of WordPress? Will its market share continue to grow? What is that one feature you would love to see in WordPress?
Emanuel: It probably will, but since it’s market share is already huge (more than 50% of all CMS solutions and 28% of *all the websites* in the world) it will probably be at a slower pace. The future of WordPress is bright though — community has never been more vibrant and I believe there’s a big opportunity for entering the enterprise market in the future. About that one feature I’d like to see in WordPress — definitely native multilingual support.
Cloudways: Do you think that WordCamps are one of the great reasons that WordPress is getting the right exposure in regional communities? What more can be done to grow the WordPress community?
Emanuel: They are. As I said before, the community is very vibrant, welcoming and it really shows what WordPress is all about — connecting people with different cultural backgrounds, making the world a better place. As for communities — we know WordCamps, which are informal, community-organized events. Even today, you have WordCamps that are huge like WordCamp Europe and the US and then London, Miami — big city WordCamps, to name a few. There’s room for growth, especially in the enterprise part, so having a professional WordPress conferences will help reach out to those people that are used to these kinds of events. Eventually, we will get regional WordCamps too that will connect more people and focus on broader topics.
Cloudways: You were one of the leading organizers at WordCamp Croatia. How hard was to organize a WordCamp in Croatia? Do you have some tips for the future WordCamp organizers?
Emanuel: It was our first WordCamp three years back when we could name it WordCamp Croatia. It was a huge thing for our community and it helped in community growth. Then, there are cultural differences that you need to take into account, so holding a WordCamp in Croatia or somewhere else, won’t have the same effect on community growth and how will this community further develop. We saw more local meetups take place, unfortunately not that actively as we were hoping for but then again — meetups and WordCamps are organised by volunteers so every event count. Whatever you do, start small and build on top of that. People sometimes think that they need to throw a big WordCamp but that’s not the case. As a community junkie that has been on a lot of WordCamps, every WordCamp is unique and you should build on that uniqueness.
Cloudways: Do you have a group of buddies that you love to hang out with at WordCamps or any other place?
Emanuel: Of course I do 🙂, is there anyone in the WordPress community who hasn’t? 🙂 These are people you see from time to time on various WordCamps and some of them I see even when not on a WordCamp. But for me — WordCamps are places where you go to learn new things, meet old and new friends and feel good.
Cloudways: For achieving the optimal performance with a WordPress install, it is essential that users deploy their websites on the cloud as it offers reliability and security. What are your views on hosting WordPress on cloud servers? Do you think the next generation in hosting is Managed Cloud Hosting like Cloudways?
Emanuel: Well, first of all — I’m not a hosting expert. That being said, I feel that the cloud is the future. Not only when hosting WordPress, but to host files, to speed up the entire web experience for people coming all over the world. The biggest problem we face today is that we don’t always think about our users and their needs. Whoever can offer an amazing experience, good support, and reliability — will win the race. I haven’t used Cloudways so I cannot comment on that, but from what I’ve seen — the future is in the cloud.
Cloudways: Let’s leave all of the things for a while and talk about your personal life. How do you spend your time with family? If possible, could you please tell our readers a little bit your family or share some favorite pictures?
Emanuel: Being a divorced father, spending my personal time with my son is the most important thing in life. Everything else is like going to conferences and traveling is just a bonus. I try to be there for Luka (that’s his name) as much as I can, and although I would like to be with him 24/7 that’s not possible. That’s why it is important for me to spend our together time exploring the world around us. We do that by traveling, going places, walking, playing in the wild — you name it. Luka is a huge fan of LEGO and I have a lot of friends from the WordPress world that already knows him from my talks, so he regularly gets presents from them 🙂, which eventually we build together. When weather permits, we like to be outside, playing in the park, climbing on the rocks or running in the forest — things that I know we both love.
Cloudways: This has been quite an experience. We will surely meet once again. What do you think our conversation? 🙂 If you want to give out any message suggestions to beginners of WordPress, please feel free to add a few words here.
Emanuel: Thanks for having me and I hope I wasn’t boring for your readers. For WordPress beginners, I can only say one word — try. Try to be part of this amazing community, try to learn a new thing every day and eventually try to help someone else like someone helped you.
Cloudways: Just to acknowledge our readers, can you please send us an image of your workspace? That’s all! 🙂
Emanuel: That will be a hard thing as I’m mostly working from outside my office these days. But here’s a photo of my workplace while on Koh Lanta in Thailand a few months back.