A man is known by the company he keeps. Marcel Sobieski is the entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word. Under his visionary leadership, TeslaThemes has made unprecedented progress since its inception in the year 2012. He is passionate about leading TeslaThemes to the new horizons of success.
With 34 premium WordPress themes to their credit, TeslaThemes is one of the most established organizations, engaged in developing eye-catching and user friendly themes for WordPress websites. The organization has a simple motto: to provide at least 1 new WordPress theme per month.
Continuing with our interview series, today we are honored to have with us the Chief Executive Officer of TeslaThemes, Marcel Sobieski. In this interview, he has shared his ideas on various aspects of WordPress theme development including WordPress security issues, the relationship between web design and user experience etc. He also shared his opinion about the future projects that will be rolled out by TeslaThemes.
Cloudways: Today, TeslaThemes is a great place to find eye-catching themes for websites. When and how this project was started?
Marcel Sobieski: TeslaThemes was initiated back in 2012 when we started creating Premium WordPress Themes. After one year of hard work (on 25th of May, 2013), we opened our own, exclusive shop, providing premium designs for our customers.
We started with a few themes and a clear plan: to release at least one new WordPress theme per month. Now we have 34+ WordPress themes for various categories of sites (blog, portfolio, creative agency, ecommerce, business, hotel, travel, sports, etc.). By now, it has been a great journey for all of us and we have plenty of new great products to reveal.
Cloudways: WordPress is now evolving into a standalone application framework. Do you agree with this? Do you have plans to develop themes compatible with WordPress as an application framework?
Marcel Sobieski: You can say it in this way, but still there is a lot of custom coding and integration to do while developing a complex website based on WordPress.
While we use its functions, hooks and filters, we still have to add our own functionality where no existing library or plugin can help, and at the same time keep the design as close as possible to the initial mockup (for example the weather widget in Magellan theme or our own Tesla Framework).
Cloudways: WordPress security is a common issue faced by many theme developers and agencies. Did you face any such issue? How often do you update your themes?
Marcel Sobieski: We certainly had our challenges with security and this fight continues as new malware appear every day. What we’ve learnt is that following some guidelines while developing a theme is a must, and security bullets won’t miss from it.
Updates come out as soon as a bug is discovered. Sometimes we update twice a day. Once the theme reaches a stable version it will get updates once in 2-3 weeks.
Cloudways: How do you market the themes? Is it more profitable to market on 3rd party marketplaces or is it better to develop your very own marketplace and sell it on your own?
Marcel Sobieski: We started by selling our themes on various marketplaces. Meanwhile, we were working on our own WP theme shop. When we opened it we announced for all our customers and partners and started a more consistent, reliable and sustainable service.
Having a good brand, high quality WordPress themes, a dedicated team of professionals, 24/7 support for our customers, free updates, a fair pricing and much more, allowed us to set up and run a great theme shop. Also, in this way you interact directly with your customers and provide them the best products and services you have.
Funny thing: when we launched, some bloggers were wondering that our service was still live after 3 months: but we’re now 2 years old (stronger than ever), supported by a big community (over 15,000 customers), we have lots of great products (34+ beautiful WordPress themes) and dedicated services. It seems like they were wrong 🙂
Cloudways: What are the challenges that you face whenever a new version of WordPress is launched? Is the new version welcomed by developers in your team or it means a routine boring QA work for them?
Marcel Sobieski: Most of the time the new WP version is compatible with our themes and nothing must be done. So yes, the team welcomes new features and security enhancements added.
In a few cases when something breaks on a new WP version, it’s a speedy fix and update. We have an update system up and running in our network, so any update is done in no-time at a push of a button.
Cloudways: We all have something in our life that motivates us. Food is my motivation. What are your interests other than work? Do you like music or sports etc.
Marcel Sobieski: Work takes the most of the time from our activities and we truly believe that our products help users and change the way they build websites. WordPress has a great community and we’re glad that we are a part of it. The feedback that we get from our customers gives us the confidence to move forward and that’s our real motivation.
Besides that, we don’t forget to have fun and enjoy our lives. Our team is comprised of young professionals, passionate about different cool things. Some of us like mountain biking, Latin dances, EDM, and travelling. We even have an amateur singer in our team.
Cloudways: You are experienced in building and managing teams. What it takes to develop a team of trusted and professional individuals? How many members are currently working with you. What’s the secret behind the team dynamics that you have implemented within TeslaThemes?
Marcel Sobieski: Currently, our team consists of 13 professionals (2 web designers, 2 front-end developers, 3 back-end developers, 3 marketing managers, 1 product manager, 1 support manager and me).
First of all, we are all passionate about the work we do and WordPress community (working in this field is amazing). During the years, we have developed some internal guidelines to improve our workflow and have short decision paths. Everyone is involved and knows exactly what to do.
Cloudways: How many themes are developed by TeslaThemes? Do you set any fix targets to develop new themes monthly or quarterly or yearly? Why do you think that themes are important for WordPress?
Marcel Sobieski: We currently offer 34 premium WordPress themes for lots of categories (blog, business, magazine, restaurant, music, travel, etc.). All of our themes come with responsive design, premium features, free updates, extensive documentation and are powered by our robust Tesla Framework.
Our goal is clear: to provide at least 1 new WordPress theme per month and by now we are meeting all our targets / expectations. In this way, all our customers who have an annual subscription are getting 1 or 2 new WordPress themes each month and all new releases during 1 year.
By the way, it’s one of the best deals in the market: you get all our WordPress themes in only $49 per year.
Cloudways: Designing a WordPress site has become easier now. Colors and other design prototypes have become an integral part of web designing? How does the user and interface design and color scheme used, affect the overall theme dynamics for a WordPress website?
Marcel Sobieski: The design of a website, and particularly of a WordPress theme remains the main factor of its success. If you have a great design, you will have a great theme. Of course, you also have to have a perfect technical implementation and compatibility that will complete the product.
We allocate a lot of time for design, technical implementation, testing, compatibility, etc., so at the end, we provide a high quality product with great features. A design created with passion and hard work will provide a unique experience and professional look and feel.
Cloudways: You have got a busy life as an entrepreneur. How do you interact with people and other influencers around you? Name any 10 individuals from WordPress industry who have influenced you throughout your professional journey?
Marcel Sobieski: I keep an eye on all communications within our company and I’m in touch with the latest news and updates. My colleagues keep me updated about everything. Today’s web technologies and devices allow us to communicate with our partners right on the move, so we can act immediately (even if we’re out of the office).
As of WordPress industry, we have a lot of friends here. Users recognize our products and we’re really excited about that. We receive a lot of support from our members and partners. I would like to say thanks to a few of them: Jeff Chandler (WP Tavern), Jean Galea (WP Mayor), Michael Jackness (WPHub), Oliver Dale (WPlift), Devesh Sharma (WPkube), Catalin Zorzini (Inspiredm), Joel (MightyDeals) and others.
Cloudways: Cloudways is a Cloud Hosting platform where you can install WordPress in one-click within a few minutes. Share your opinion about it. How the platform can be further improved in order to provide maximum benefits to the users?
Marcel Sobieski: Most of hosting companies provide 1-click installation for WordPress, which is a great feature for users that don’t have advanced development skills. This facilitates the process of setting up a website.
If you have a domain name, hosting, and a WP theme, you can set up your site in minutes (in the past it could take hours or days). The users of your platform can access all these features in one account, which is easy to use and provides a great UI and UX.
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