Themes are the core component of any WordPress site and having the right theme which suits your requirements, as well as offer performance, was a challenge to find.
This challenge is overcome by OceanWP which is a complete WordPress theme that offers extensive features set as well as performance. The theme is tested and turned out to be lightning fast and loaded in just 526ms with dummy data.
Today, we are interviewing the man behind OceanWP, Mr, Nicolas Lecocq who put a lot of efforts and thoughts in developing this theme.
Cloudways: I would like to begin by congratulating you and the OceanWP team for developing one of the finest WordPress themes out there. Please share your story before stepping into WordPress and what would you be if you were not doing what you are doing now?
Nicolas: Hello, thanks for the nice words. 🙂
I started to use WordPress in 2012, it’s quite some years now. 🙂
Before doing that, I was doing a completely different job, I was a baker, but don’t ask me to make you a cake, I don’t remember how to do. 🙂
I don’t really know what I would do if I were not working with WordPress, probably something related to design.
Cloudways: Interesting! In your website, you stated that you wanted to create a blog in 2012. What did you want to blog about? And later when you started working as a freelancer, what kind of challenges did you face while working on the projects? Why did you quit your job and started working as a freelancer?
Nicolas: Yes, I wanted to create a blog on a fighting sport that I love and it is actually what made me want to create a theme, back then, not a lot of themes were responsive, so I was editing themes to make them fully responsive and little by little, I’ve realized that I really loved doing that.
When you work as a freelancer, there is one big rule “the client is always right”, but sometimes, it can be quite annoying, especially when you have worked hard many days to create a great website and after the delivery, the client changes everything and the website become a mess.
I’ve started as a freelancer because first, I love what I do, this is a great motivation to create something that many people love and use, and secondly, it is really great to not have a boss. 🙂
Cloudways: Being your own boss has its perks. 🙂 Did you teach yourself WordPress development just because you liked developing themes or did you also see the potential of turning your passion into a business? At what point you decided to create a complete scalable theme like OceanWP?
Nicolas: It was both, I love to create themes/plugins for WordPress, and of course, if you create a great product, there are so many people using WP that the community will use it and you will be able to live off what you love to do.
At the beginning, I created themes for my clients, when a client wanted something specific, I was creating themes with only the features needed to deliver him a fast website, then, little by little, the idea of creating a theme for any type of website but to allow users to disable the features they don’t need to always have a very fast website came to my mind, and Ocean was born (at first, the name was Ocean, then it become OceanWP).
Cloudways: That’s a great story. What challenges do you see in theme development and page builder industry after the release of WordPress 5.0 and phase 2 of Gutenberg Editor? How do you see Gutenberg Editor replacing the Classic Editor?
Nicolas: I am part of the few people who like Gutenberg. 🙂
Seriously, I think that Gutenberg will become a great editor and probably more in the future, and page builders like Elementor or Brizy will not be replaced in my opinion.
And for users who don’t like Gutenberg at all, there is actually a plugin to have the old editor with WP 5.0: Classic Editor plugin.
Cloudways: From 2012 onwards, you are fully dedicated to WordPress development. What kinds of projects do you usually work on besides OceanWP? Is there any project you are working on and would like to share about?
I have created some other themes, some were on ThemeForest, and I have taken all the great things of them to add them in OceanWP.
Cloudways: With more than 200,000 active installations, OceanWP is one of the popular themes in the WordPress repository. Please share your initial strategy of promoting the theme and how did you manage both the development and marketing end of the business?
Nicolas: Actually, it will be very soon more than 300,000 active installations. 🙂
On the marketing side, at first, we were doing Facebook Ads, and as the theme is used by so many people, users talk about it to their friend and thanks to great companies like Elementor and Cloudways, OceanWP becomes more and more popular without doing a lot of ads. 🙂
Cloudways: It’s correct! The great product speaks for itself. WordPress has one of the most active and supportive community. How do you interact with your clients or WordPressers? What are your thoughts on attending WordCamps and local WordPress meetups? How they have been useful for the community?
Nicolas: I am quite often on the OceanWP Facebook group to see what members want to see in a future release. But I mostly talk to my users via the support, they give me their feedback and if I can implement what they want without bloating the theme, it is my pleasure.
WordCamps and any events to promote WordPress are for sure very useful, I didn’t have the chance to go on a WordCamp yet but I will try.
Cloudways: You have been in the WordPress industry for quite some time. What are some people who have inspired you or helped you to excel in the WordPress? Name any 5 of them or anyone you would like to be interviewed next?
Nicolas: Some WordPress companies inspired me like WooCommerce, WP Rocket, Envato and Elementor who do amazing things.
They are many people that I could recommend, here are five of them.
- Ben Pines from Elementor
- Jonathan Buttigieg from WP Rocket
- Benjamin Denis from SEOPress
- Augustin from Weglot
Cloudways: Thank you! What resources/tutorials/blogs/ebooks do you recommend to new WordPress theme developers or WordPressers in general? And which tips would you like to share with new theme owners? How they can optimize their workflow?
Nicolas: There are a lot of tutorials videos on YouTube which is a great resource when you need to do something and you don’t know how to do it.
Some great YouTube channels:
One website if you are a beginner is: WPBeginner
It will teach you everything you need to know about the basics.
I love to read these blogs:
Not really a tip but one advice, if you love to create themes, plugins or anything related to WordPress, try to learn something new every day, you will be able to deliver amazing products, and the community will help you to improve it. 🙂
Cloudways: Well said! Cloud hosting is crucial for better performance and security for any WordPress website. In your opinion, how theme developers and startups can leverage from managed cloud hosting like Cloudways?
Nicolas: I would have a lot to say about hosting companies, so many users come to me to say that there is something wrong with their site, it is slow, they got hacked, etc… When I log in to their dashboard and see that they are on PHP 5.4, I’m a little shocked that huge hosting companies still use very old PHP version for their clients.
I strongly recommend to go on a host who actually understands WordPress and care about security, speed, and support like you guys, Cloudways is amazing, don’t go on a general host, when you will need help, they will don’t understand your issue and basically tell you to fix it yourself.
Cloudways: How is your usual day like? And what do you do when you are not working? What are your favorite hobbies?
Nicolas: My usual day is to always try to improve OceanWP, to create new extensions, answer support, but when I’m not working, I like to go out, I have moved to a country that has mountain everywhere and is very close to Barcelona so I will for sure ski a little for the first time and I will be able to go to the beach the same day. 🙂
Cloudways: WOW! That sounds fun. For our readers, could you share the picture of your workspace?
Nicolas: I have ordered a great office that will probably come this month, I will be able to add my iMac and MacBook Pro to work twice better. 🙂
Right now, here my little office: