At CMS2CMS we love to get the inside view from experts working with website platforms. Following our last interview with Christie Chirinos, this week we get in touch with Anariel Design Agency. This online web design agency specializes in developing premium niche WordPress themes. We are very glad to have the opportunity to talk with Ana after almost 3 years from our previous interview and meet the rest of the team – Marko and Bubi!
Enjoy the read and discover useful tips and experience!
Almost 3 years have passed since our last conversation. Hope you’re doing well! In our previous interview, we’ve learned more about Ana’s background. Marko, can you, please, tell our readers a bit about yourself. How did you start your career? What/who motivated and inspired you?
Hi there and thank you for inviting us to do the interview 2.0 :).
Marko: When you say “your career” it sounds quite strange to me as I’ve never considered myself a career person. I just try to do what I feel like doing at any time. That’s often not long enough to call it a career 🙂 Anyhow, before this WordPress “career” I’ve been a musician for quite a long time. I really liked playing gigs, hanging around with other musicians, trading days for nights and everything else that goes with it but at one point, for some reason, it just stopped being fun and I’ve started considering other options. Luckily Ana already started showing interest in design and I thought this is an interesting option as our main goal was to become location independent. That was also our main motivation. So we started searching for options and after I while we landed on WordPress for various reasons.
You’re the Founders of an Anariel Design agency. Can you share with us how the service was created and how you went about promoting it? What do you think helps your solution stand out from other alternatives in the field?
Anariel Design started quite unplanned and at the beginning we’ve had no idea what should we be focusing on and how should we promote whatever we end up doing. We simply needed a name cause we started selling some HTML templates on Themeforest and we came up with this one. If we’d known then that we’d be creating WordPress themes we’d probably have “themes” in the name like many other theme shops have 🙂
Shortly after we created our own site as a way to showcase our HTML templates portfolio but that incarnation was short lived and we soon switched to WordPress themes and turned our portfolio website into a WordPress theme shop.
It is very hard to stand out in such a saturated environment. I wouldn’t say that we stand out or that I’d even be able to single out a theme shop that does but we all have our audience. What we did is find a niche that we like and for which we’d like to create websites. For us that was Charity niche and in lesser degree Restaurant and Blogging niche. Once we focused on a niche we did our best to create well designed, well-coded themes with enough functionality to serve the purpose but without being bloated and complicated.
Ana, you’ve started with HTML templates and soon after turned to WordPress themes. What was the trigger to make this move?
I started creating and selling HTML templates in 2011 but very soon I realized that HTML templates are a dead end with all these CSM solutions growing. Marko and I already decided to try to build a business selling only finished templates instead of developing custom websites for clients. As our goal was to build a business that is independent of the place of living, to be able to do this we needed a bigger market. Very soon we realized that WordPress is the thing and that I should switch to creating WordPress themes. It took some nerves and patience to learn the ins and outs of theme development, but with support and motivation from Marko I somehow make it happen 🙂 and from that moment WordPress is part of my life.
Dear Anariel Design team, please tell us about your “faithful companion” – Bubi 🙂 What was the story about him?
Thank you for asking, Bubi is very pleased with this question 😉 Almost 5 years ago we were visiting our families in Croatia and Ana’s mom gave us a small present. It was the cutest teddy bear in the world, we named him Bubi. He is our lucky charm and a faithful companion on all our journeys. He helped us through some though periods and he always makes us smile. If you want to get to know him better, please check his website: https://bubithebear.com/
If you were interviewing a WordPress designer for a job, what question would you ask first and why?
Hmm we don’t have experience with job interviews but some of the questions might be:
a) How did you ended up working as a WordPress theme designer and is this your dream job?
b) Walk us through your design process. What steps do you take and where do u find inspiration?
Teamwork requires effective collaboration. How do you divide the roles and responsibilities?
I do themes, theme updates and socials and Marko is responsive for theme support and the business side of Anariel Design. He also writes articles, creates presentation videos and helps during the theme development process by giving advice on how to improve something from the users point of view.
What’s the biggest misconception you have met about WordPress, and how do you clear it up for your clients?
There are some misconceptions related to WordPress especially for the very beginners. I’d say the biggest misconception is “ease of use”. WordPress is quite easy to use once you learn the basics. However, for people that are not ready to invest a bit of their time to learn the basics it can quickly become a nightmare. I guess it depends on how a person defines “easy to use” phrase.
Sometimes you encounter people that never had any experience with WordPress or websites in general that heard that WordPress is easy to use and believe that “easy to use” means, “I’ll buy this theme in the morning and my website will be up and running by the end of the day”. This is, of course, very unrealistic and leads to a lot of frustration 🙂
What are you currently working on? What are the trending WordPress templates for now to your mind?
We are working on a new project that will hopefully make themes much easier to use for an end user. We are at the beginning and still can’t talk more about it, but stay tuned. With Gutenberg coming to WordPress we are concentrating ourselves in creating themes using the new WordPress editor and blocks. Recently we launched our new free WordPress theme Veganos that is completely built using the new WordPress editor. Our goal is to make unique and easy to use themes. This always was and will stay our motto for future projects.
What are your perspectives on the future of WordPress in your opinion? Do you think that the WordPress market will keep on growing?
We are hoping the answer is yes but let’s see, it is very hard to predict it at the moment. The WordPress theme market is definitely far more saturated than it was when we started. It’s getting harder as more and more theme developers compete for the same piece of the pie. Everything is changing very fast and you need to keep up. We’ll see what awaits us. We are hoping that Gutenberg will bring positive response from the users and it will change user experience for the better. Gutenberg is a big step forward, but if not done properly it can be quite a big step back.
How does your typical workday look like? Is there something special you do to stay productive during the day? Can you please take a picture of your team during a work process for us? 🙂
Marko: First thing I do when I sit at my desk is reply to all the support questions and try to assist our customers as much as possible. I start with our ticketing system and then move to pre-sale questions that come in per email. After that there are always some b2b emails that need to be sent or replied to. These can be related to guest post arrangements, affiliate questions or some possible future cooperation.
That part is obligatory and it has to be done daily (excluding weekends). After that Ana and I often exchange and write down ideas on how to improve certain theme elements, fix bugs or promote themes. We’re also always on the look for new ideas that we could use in our future projects. At the end of my work day I revisit our ticketing system and reply to any ticket that came in in the meantime.
I don’t really understand that obsession with productivity that is all over the place lately so I’m not the right person to give any relevant advice. Basically, I do what I have to do and then, if I feel like doing some more I’ll do some more, if not then I’ll do it next time. I don’t think that life should be about productivity. I don’t recall any old person saying that they wish they’ve been more productive:)
Ana: Morning is my time when I am most productive so I usually do everything themes related. If I’m not working on a new theme than I’m doing theme updates. After that, I take some time to prepare a lunch and do some socials. Later on, I do some fitness and I spend time working with Bubi on his project. I also recently started learning to draw. We also like to go walking in nature whenever we can. If there is any time left I sleep 😉
We want to say great thanks to Ana, Marko and Bubi and wish them all the best of joy and inspiration!