Hi could you tell us a little about yourself and background?
Ana: Hi, thanks a lot for inviting us for the interview, it is a pleasure. Before we started with Anariel Design I had just finished Civil Engineering studies and moved to Germany. As I couldn’t find myself in Civil Engineering and wasn’t happy with the studies I finally decided to try something for myself, something I always wanted but didn’t have the opportunity to try, web design. Having Marko’s enormous support (I couldn’t manage this without him) I started to learn to HTML and CSS and then building WordPress themes.
Marko: Hi there, thank you for inviting us to do the interview. To put it short, in my case it is a typical story of a musician that discovered WordPress :). I don’t know if you noticed that connection, but I met so many people in the WordPress community that are or were musicians. It looks like a pattern :). Before that, I studied management, but didn’t find myself in it and wanted to try to make a living being a musician. So I quit the study just a few exams before the end and moved to Germany. Thirteen years later I’m still in Germany, but music is more like a hobby these days and WordPress themes are my main source of income. Let’s see what the future brings.
When did you first stumble upon WordPress?
Ana: I think it was 2012. I started creating and selling HTML templates in 2011. Very soon I realized that WordPress is the thing and that I should switch to creating WordPress themes. It costed me some nerves and time to learn the ins and outs of theme development, but with support and motivation from Marko it seems like it worked :).
Marko: My role in this was like: “You know I think this WordPress thing is worth learning, so why don’t you try and learn it. It can’t be rocket science.” :)
What product / website of yours are you most proud of and why?
Ana: I’d say that at the time I finish working on a new theme that theme is the one I’m most proud of. Looking back, the themes I’m most proud of are our charity WordPress themes as they were all inspired by a real-life story, real organizations and people. If I’d need to pick one I’d pick Maisha charity WordPress theme. Beside charity WordPress themes we develop blogging themes and there I’d pick Didi fashion WordPress theme.
Marko: I’d agree with themes Ana picked and the reasons why. What I’d add is the theme Zeko that is our latest nonprofit WordPress theme. I like that one a lot.
Have you had any epic fails so far that you’d like to share with us?
Marko: Hmm yes, I got married:)))). Just kidding, for me the epic fail was to study something I was not really interested in and for the reasons I still don’t understand.
Ana: I guess we share the same fail, it’s not getting married though:). I studied civil engineering that I was not interested in and would never pick that study if I’d have to pick now. However, that was then, we learn from our mistakes and now I’m happy to do what I do and glad I never needed to work as a Civil Engineer.
In your opinion, is the premium themes / plugins market saturated? Are there any opportunities out there?
Ana: It definitely is far more saturated than it was when we started. There are still opportunities, but it’s getting harder especially for themes as more and more theme developers compete for the same piece of the pie.
Marko: Agree completely. I also think there are more opportunities for plugin developers right now. However, everything is changing very fast all the time. Our job is to try to keep up and we’ll see what awaits around the corner.
What’s your advice to new theme / plugin authors?
Marko: Give up before it’s too late:)). No, don’t give up, that’s always the last option. I would say that finding a niche and specializing is important in a saturated market like this one. There needs to be something that sets a product outside of the “me too” category. For me “why” is important in everything I do and from my experience as a musician “money” can’t be the only answer.
Ana: I second that:). Do what you love, give 100% and in the end, it will pay off.
If you had the chance to add a single feature in WordPress core, what would it be?
Marko: It would be a way to create rows and columns in posts and pages without using a 3rd party plugin.
Ana: That’s a tough one! It would be great to see Gutenberg as a kind of a “page builder”. It’d be much easier for users to build pages using different blocks inside the editor instead of thinking about what is a widget, a sidebar… or installing a page builder plugin. There is one more thing I would like to see, a better way of importing data.
Is the inclusion of the REST API a decision in the right direction and why?
Marko: I’m probably not the best-informed person regarding the whole REST API thing. From what I know it is definitely a move in the right direction as it opens a whole new world of possibilities. We, however, still have to see in practice how this is gonna affect theme and plugin development.
Ana: Yep, it’s a good thing. I’m excited to see where it goes in the future.
What’s your take on project Gutenberg?
Marko: I think the idea behind it is good and I welcome adding that kind of functionality to WordPress. It is definitely a step in the right direction. It would also add the feature I mentioned above, which is nice:). However, there seems to be a lot of disagreements and misunderstandings related to the project and many people don’t seem to be very happy with it. I’m quite confident that the team behind the project will sort all these issues before it is included in WP 5.0. This is a big step forward, but if not done properly it can be quite a big step back.
Ana: I agree:). It would be great to see Gutenberg as a better visual editor in the future. It will solve so many problems for the users who are just starting with WordPress.
What’s your current hardware/software setup. Any apps you can’t live without?
Marko: I use a Windows PC with 27″ LG screen and a Mac Book Air when on the road. On a daily basis I mainly do support, so what I need the most is the browser and Chrome is my browser of choice. I use Filezilla FTP client and Brackets code editor. I don’t think there is an app that I couldn’t live without, everything is replaceable these days.
Ana: I am using an iMac, MacBook Air and LG phone. Essential for me are Adobe products (like Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver), Versions, Slack. I can’t live without Twitter ;)
What’s your typical day like?
Ana: I usually do everything themes related in the morning. Working on a new theme or doing theme updates and so on. After that, I take some time to cook a lunch and then I do socials. Later on, I do some fitness and after I spend time learning new skills. I just started learning to draw ;). I also like to go walking with Marko and Bubi whenever the weather allows us to do so. Sometimes I sleep ;).
Marko: Wake up…work…go to sleep…repeat. Luckily, I have a lot of non-typical days:).