“Book a 30 Minute Meeting with Anyone, Anywhere.” – Interview with Marko Prljic

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Title sounds a bit strange? We’ll forgive you for that.

It’s the opportunity Marko Prljic provides with Thirtymin. For those who are not familiar with Marko, he’s one of our favorite professionals in the sphere of WordPress, design and web development. If you’re running a website of your own or being engaged to the sphere of providing web services, you should see his work. Back to his app, Thirtymin. What’s it all about? Today we’ve got for you the answers given. Good luck with reading it below 😉

Thanks for joining us today, Marko. Please, tell us a bit more about your background, how long have you been working with design and about your current ventures.

Hi and thanks for having me 🙂

I started out as a graphic designer in a small print shop (go figure) and soon after that came the DotCom Boom which got me affected in a way that I started to explore the web and learn everything by myself and with the help of the community. I’ve been freelancing since then, started my own remote agency and have been collaborating with some bigger companies where I led development teams. Pretty interesting and experience rich stuff happened in past 10 or more years which I’m thankful for.

When was the first time that you really got excited about web design and at what point did you decide to make it your career?

I remember it was one summer when my classmate and I decided to build our first website. He was a natural born developer (his mother also worked as developer) and I was into design, we had no clue into what we’re heading to, but it was a fun ride which brought us both to where we are today. It took us 2 months to build that website and the moment we started I knew I’ll be doing this for the rest of my career.

Where do you go first to get web design news, insights, and updates?

Usually that’s Twitter, I follow some interesting people there and I found out about anything before everyone else (at least I like to believe that). Then I have my own RSS feeds which I don’t really check on a regular basis.

What design tips would you give to beginners (as related to CMS)?

Practice, practice, practice and don’t wait for anyone to bring you work. Americans have invented the best tagline ever: “Just do it”.

When it comes to CMS choice or designing for particular platform, I’d say don’t get held back with less knowledge about that particular platform, work closely with developers, make sure they have enough patience with you, and after one completed project you’ll gain so much knowledge and practice that the next one will be much easier.

Confess to us your biggest moment of design fail?

Not being able to carry out an innovative, bold and game changing design through the stakeholders in a big company due to current tech and administrative limitations. I still believe it could have been done but it required a big shift in operations on many levels throughout the company.

It has been 7 years since you founded Twinkle Tap. Can you share with us how the digital media design, development and consulting agency was born and how you went about promoting it?

Yes, it’s been some amazing 7 years with great people and friends. It all started when my friend (classmate from the beginning of this interview) decided to leave his current job and join me to develop apps for clients. Slowly but surely I gathered the rest of the team, all freelancers and remote workers, dedicated and self disciplined people. We did some great work. I partnered with one company in Canada where we did the most work. I never spent any time or money into marketing and promotion, it was pure word of mouth and our work spoke for itself.

It is interesting that you’ve been the CEO and the principal designer of Twinkle Tap till January 2015, and then you moved your focus to other projects like Axilis, Thirtymin, Gravity4. What was the decision influenced by? Why did you choose to switch the design direction?

Yes, early 2014 I was hired as Head of Development in Croatia’s biggest media company. That’s when I had to slightly shift my focus and it turned out to be more time consuming than I imagined. Twinkle Tap as such still existed but our operations went low. Until early 2015 where I had to official close the company, the team stayed. A lot of back and forth happened after that until I was asked to become a co-founder in one startup (Thirtymin), which I accepted. I believe it was the best decision I made back then. Our product is developing very good so far.

Axilis is a Croatian design and development agency owned by one of my friends. I was asked to join as Head of Design to uplift the value of the company and provide better solutions for their current and future clients. I’m loving the work there and the dev team there is just amazing.

So what does Thirtymin do? What do you think helps your solution stand out from other apps in the field?

With Thirtymin we provide everyone with the opportunity to book a 30 minute meeting with anyone, anywhere. Everyone is reachable for a meeting with Thirtymin. Up until now the only way to arrange a meeting with someone you do not know directly is to get introduced or stalk on social media, which did not provide good results. We aim to overcome all this and become  means to approach anyone of your interest and arrange a 30 minute meeting.

What’s the coolest design project you’ve ever worked on?

Oh, so many great projects. I would make this choice based on the project I had the most fun working, that would be Thirtymin.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for web design agencies to face in 2016?

For 2016 and beyond, have at least one high caliber designers in their team who have broad experience in the field of human behavior and interactions, aligned with ever fast growing tech in the world. Besides that being open to remote work, I believe this will be a deal breaker for everyone because there are so many talents out there you can’t just squeeze all in one room.

If you could change one thing about CMS today, what would it be? What CMS is the best to design on?

Every CMS has its own pros and cons depending on type of project you’re working. What I experienced most when working with clients is the client side admin interface which almost always saw many room for improvements in terms of usability. One thing I’d really love to see change in many open source CMSs is the admin interface usability.

I’ve been mostly designing apps and sites built on custom developed CMS, as well as Drupal and WordPress. Personally, I have no problems with either, I manage to adapt to all constraints if any.

What new features would you like to see in upcoming versions of CMSs?

Better third party integration and automatisation tools.

If you were interviewing a web designer for a job, what question would you ask first and why?

“How happy do you feel in your life?”

For me it is most important that any employee is a happy, stable, responsible person, beyond any other professional qualities or skills. If you’re a positive and cheerful human being you can achieve anything.

Have you ever faced the problem of website migration? If so, how did you manage to resolve it: by converting your website data manually or via an automated tool?

Yes, we had some issues with website migrations mostly when moving from one CMS to another but that’s normal. We always work with staging and production servers so there’s no downtime and we have more time for testing. As I said, I work with great developers and they  handle this stuff seamlessly. Happy me 🙂

Tell us a bit about your working setup (hardware + software). Can you shoot us a picture of your desk? 🙂

Oh, my desk is nothing special, or nothing fancy as you probably used to seeing from other designers. I work most of time remote, from coffee shops or wherever I happen to be. So that’s my workplace. I used to have MBP 15” plugged into 27” Cinema Display when I was working at my home office. I got rid of all that and now work on my MBPr 13” and I love it.

Recently I gave up on Adobe completely and moved to Sketch for designing UI, flows, wireframes etc. Other then that I have just about any browser available installed on my OS.

My most beloved piece of equipment is pen and paper.

Finally, have we missed anything? Here’s your chance to fill in the blanks and add something you want people to know about you!

Yeah! Well … you asked many questions and I believe my answers will be helpful to your readers. Stay strong, wish you and your readers all the best in the future.

Thanks again for having me.

Thanks Marko and good luck with Thirtymin! Do you have any comments on what Marko has shared with us? Let us know in the comments section below.

If still you haven’t tried WordPress, but it’s being one of your tempting desires, do not hesitate to test it with our convert tool and let us know your insights on its work 😉

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Valentyna Tysiachna

Valia is a vivid CMS platforms observer, that’s why she found her dream job of marketer manager at CMS2CMS migration service. Keen English learner, music lover and passionate content writer, she enjoys constant improvement and is open to challenges.
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