This time we have invited Ivan Pylypchuk to our interview series. He is a WordPress developer, expert, and most importantly, an entrepreneur who has more than 16 years of experience in web development.
He is currently working at Codeable as a freelance WordPress developer and has completed more than 350 projects with a 5/5 rating. Let’s talk about how Ivan started his career and the practices and workflow he utilizes for delivering a high-performing project to the clients.
Cloudways: Hi Ivan, Thank you for joining us today. Let’s start with the introductions. How did you start your career? What do you do these days?
Ivan: Now I am the founder and CEO of Premmerce and SoftBlues software development companies. I started in 2004 as a web developer. At this time, in my country (I am from Ukraine), internet ecommerce was just starting and very few people understood why they needed a website. After the first few projects, I decided to turn this startup into a full-fledged business and set up my own agency.
We began to actively scale our services, and in 2008 we realized that the existing content management systems like Joomla or Drupal do not allow us to make the process of website development efficient due to a lack of flexibility in the template system. Since we strived to create products that are optimal in design and structure, we decided to develop our own content management system (CMS) called ImageCMS and it was very successful – we have made more than 3000 commercial websites with this CMS.
At some point, we received feedback from our clients that we were very competitive with Bitrix and in 2009 we were listed as TOP10 CMS in CIS in the https://cmsmagazine.ru/
A significant moment was in 2017 when with a large number of orders, we decided to make our first plugin to optimize and simplify our work. Then we realized that such plugins would be useful not only for us but for other developers too.
So now we have more than 15 plugins to improve ecommerce, and we became the official partners of WooCommerce and Pinterest. And this is far from the limit – we have very ambitious plans for this area.
Cloudways: You currently work at Codeable as a freelance WordPress developer. What are your responsibilities there? Could you share any interesting stories?
Ivan: Regardless of the fact that on Codeable we already have 350 completed projects and a 5/5 rating, I believe that our work with this wonderful platform is just beginning. Because we became a Certified Codeable Expert in only 2018, which is quite recently on the scale of our company. I am responsible for the development of this direction in general, and also our professional sales and PM team are involved in this project. Together we help our clients implement complex, not-typical tasks that require deep knowledge of the WordPress ecosystem.
We value Codeable very much for the fact that they create an environment for a truly premium service, where all experts share the principles of not competition, but “coopetition”, thus working together on the best solution for the client and as a result, everyone wins.
The sales process here is very different and value-oriented. Once the client comes to the platform he/she receives consultation from all experts interested in the project as they suggest the best solutions for his task implementation. Based on the public expert discussion, the client chooses the expert for further cooperation.
An interesting example was the recent case when a client wanted a custom ecommerce plugin – as we have a lot of experience here, and the client was able to clearly and thoughtfully convey his requirements, we closed the project in a record two days.
Cloudways: You are the founder of Premmerce and SoftBlues. What was your idea behind it? What are your responsibilities there?
Ivan: As I said before, the idea of starting a company came out of necessity – because we had a lot of projects, the whole process had to be organized and formalized in order to simplify our planning and set up the business processes of project management. We believe that planning and clear processes are our strengths, and therefore plugin development was spinned off into a new brand.
After all, a product and a service are different things, there are different approaches to development, scaling, marketing, etc. To achieve maximum results, it was important for us to separate these two directions. Now my responsibility in this field is strategic planning, negotiations with key partners, and innovations implementation.
Cloudways: You have released more than 15 official WordPress plugins, a popular WordPress theme (SaleZone), and completed more than 300 Codeable projects. Can you give our readers a deeper look into your life and how you began in this industry?
Ivan: This is an interesting question since for a long time we had been developing our own platform for managing ecommerce websites. Now it is a very popular CMS in Ukraine and CIS countries (more than 3000 real online stores).
And at some point, we realized that we have enough experience to bring our expertise to other popular platforms (like WooCommerce), and we could grow our audience and continue developing cool solutions.
After analyzing the main shortcomings of WooCommerce in terms of the possibilities for customization and development of the store, we decided to develop plugins and themes that enhance marketing, SEO, and usability aspects of WooCommerce.
Cloudways: Would you like to tell our readers some of the best projects you’ve worked on?
Ivan: The project we are proud of is a large portal for the administration of land plots in Ukraine. It solves a huge problem in our country on land fund management. It is used by Ukrainian and foreign agricultural companies, landowners, lawyers, and notaries for registering owning rights and sales operations. In this project, the emphasis is on security, usability, and speed. The project has received a grant from the President of Ukraine and is now popular with both small and large agricultural companies.
The ambition of the project is to become a leading Business Intelligence Platform for land management in Ukraine.
As for the WordPress ecosystem, the main projects that we are proud of are our plugins. Since we made them for our needs, it is very nice to see that they are helping thousands of developers. For example, Permalink Manager Plugin – in a few clicks can change all the URL of an online store and set up automated 301 redirects to improve the SEO of the site, Pinterest Plugin – allows you to upload thousands of products to this popular social network in 2 minutes.
Cloudways: What are the practices and workflow you choose to deliver your best?
Ivan: Every project begins with a comprehensive plan, defined timeframe, and a deadline for every milestone.
Failure to plan is a plan to fail.
Everyday working tasks are no exception. We are totally accountable for our corporate decisions, promises, and actions, both successful and not. Any occurring failures or successes undergo thorough analysis to take further action.
We always speak our mind in a clear and friendly way, with the belief that smart critique and discussion ensure perfection. We appreciate sharing ideas and being honest with our partners and clients.
Cloudways: What are the tips and techniques you would suggest to WordPress beginners? Can you also recommend your favorite themes and plugins?
Ivan: Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) is a must-have plugin for all developers.
Also for beginners, I would recommend checking out Gutenberg, as this is now the future, with WordPress moving towards full site editing with the Gutenberg edit. By the way, ACF and Gutenberg are very well compatible with each other. But in general, for a start, I would concentrate on the basics: HTML, CSS, JS, and PHP.
As for favorite themes – we are not big fans of using ready-made themes, Instead, we prefer starter themes that only define the architecture. One of the best here in my opinion is Sage Theme by Roots.io. It allows you to use a powerful stack and write better and extensible code.
Cloudways: Which type of hosting you would prefer for WordPress? What are your thoughts on cloud hosting and how do you compare it with traditional shared hosting?
Ivan: In general, we do not have any special hosting preferences, we use Netlify for our corporate sites because it is tailored for convenient work with Gatsby.
Cloud hostings proved to be reliable. For projects that we do from scratch, we often use Amazon, but there were a lot of customers who use WP Engine and Cloudways, and the feedback was very positive. Better speed, storage and bandwidth are some of the reasons you might be searching for a WPengine alternative. The right provider should give you fast, secure and scalable servers.
Cloudways: Sometimes it is hard to balance work and personal life, especially when you have a lot of responsibilities and running startups. So what do you like to do in your free time?
Ivan: With time I understood the real value of life/work balance. Outside my work, I devote time to personal development and family.
Every day, I make time and read books, mainly on Psychology. Also, with so many projects and ideas, I’m keen on daily meditation and find it absolutely amazing. I walk in the fresh air for at least half an hour and do workouts every day. Twice a week I visit the swimming pool and spa. And we play mini football with our colleagues on Tuesdays.
I devote evenings to my family and children and we spend every Sunday as a family without gadgets, emails, and instant messengers, just hanging out with kids and having lots of fun.
Cloudways: Would you like to share an image of your workstation? That would be all! Thank you once again, Ivan.
Ivan: No problem. Here you are
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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]