Today we have with us Ellen Bauer from Elma Studio, I really love the themes they produce, very clean and well built, and it’s a pleasure to learn more about how Ellen approaches her work, and also her leisure time. Read more and feel free to comment after.
Thanks for joining us today Ellen, please tell us a bit more about your background, how long you’ve been working with WordPress and what WordPress services/products you provide.
Hi Jean, thanks for asking me about this interview. I’m working with WordPress since about 5 years now, starting out as a freelance web designer doing mostly client web sites with WordPress at the beginning. Then a little over 3 years ago my partner Manuel and I started to blog about our experience as web designer, WordPress developer and freelancer and we got more and more into blogging and engaging with the blog community. We also designed 2 free themes that became quite popular so we are also offering Premium WordPress themes on our Elmastudio by now.
What made you sell your themes via your own site versus going for a theme marketplace?
Since creating WordPress themes started out for us with publishing our first two free themes on our own blog and on WordPress.org we never really thought about publishing our themes anywhere else. Also in my opinion on your own platform you will always have a lot more freedom to publish and sell your themes the way you like it. In our case our blog community plays also a very important part for us and we love to discuss and improve our themes together with our blog readers and theme users.
Where do you get inspiration from designing new themes?
Basically from everywhere. We kind of design and create all day and sketch up and discuss new theme ideas or ideas for new blog posts. Of course I also get a lot of inspiration from other blogs, from other web designers and web design galleries, from inspiration sites like Pinterest or from classic graphic designs.
As a web designer/developer, what are the online communities (e.g.. Dribbble, Twitter etc) you like to hang out at and what value do each of them provide?
I mostly use Twitter and Pinterest right now and I love to read on our blogs as well. I try not to spend too much time on social media platforms but I always get great feedback, bug reports or suggestions for theme improvements from theme users on Twitter or via email.
Do you follow any particular WordPress blogs for keeping up to date?
Yes, I always try to read as much about WordPress as I can. I love watching the WordCamp videos on WordPress.tv and I have all kinds of WordPress sites in my reader, I like themeshaper.com, Otto on WordPress, WP Candy, Digging into WordPress, the WordPress section on Smashing Magazine and of course Matt Mullenweg’s blog ma.tt.
Can you mention some plugins that you find yourself relying on when developing new WordPress sites?
I think Jetpack for WordPress is getting more and more powerful and has some great features, I always install Contact form 7, WP Pagenavi, AddQuicktag, WP Super Cache and for translations the Codestyling Localization plugin is a real time saver.
Tell us a bit about your development setup (hardware + software). Can you show us a picture of your desk?
I don’t have a current picture right now but I recently or better finally 😉 switched from working on a 13′ Thinkpad to a 15′ Mac Book Pro. I loved the lightweight 13′ laptop and I carried it everywhere around with me. But it was really bad for my eyes I guess and not really comfortable working long hours so I’m really happy with my Mac Book now. For theme designs we use Illustrator and try to work directly in the browser as much as possible.
What new features would you like to see in upcoming versions of WordPress?
I would love to see more possibilities to connect WordPress blogs and bloggers together and to be able to interact more with each other instead of everyone just writing on his/her own blog alone.
Any other online tools or resources you use on a daily basis?
I use all kinds of Chrome browser add ons for developing and testing, I keep all my notes on Evernote, Trello is my favorite for managing projects and working in a team and I probably would forget everything without my TeuxDeux to do list.
Can you mention some of your hobbies? How do your hobbies help keep a good work-life balance?
Yes, a healthy work-life balance is especially important to me. I love to be outdoors as much as possible when not working. I love traveling and all kinds of water sports. I also love cooking and after being a vegetarian for a couple of years I switched to a vegan diet recently and I love it. Pinterest is my main source of inspiration for new vegan recipes and for me cooking is a great change from computer work.
You seem to be successful in combining work and travel. Tell us where you’ve been and which places you think are great for digital nomads.
I always loved to travel because you can learn and experience so much from different cultures. I traveled a lot when I was in university and now as freelancers we still try to see as much from the world as possible. It’s not always easy to combine work and travel but I think there will be more and more opportunities in the future like co-working spaces, conferences, WordCamps and so on. We have been in New Zealand at the beginning of this year (it’s one of my favorite countries ever) and we were able to attend the New Zealand WordCamp over there. It was such a great experience to meet fellow WordPress fans, bloggers, web designers and freelancers from the other side of the world.
What about your future plans, any new projects in the pipeline or will you stick to creating more themes?
We will definitely create more themes because it’s a lot of fun and we have lots of new ideas, too. I would also love to blog more (I have like ten new blog ideas but no time to start…) and I want to do some more video tutorials soon.
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