Today we have Juan Pablo Sarmiento from the Shock Family, you might be familiar with ThemeShock or the WP Theme Generator, which has been making waves lately. Let’s get to know him a bit more, I’m sure you’ll find this interview very interesting.
Thanks for joining us today Juan Pablo, please tell us a bit more about your background (where you’re from, how you learnt programming/design etc.), how long you’ve been working with WordPress and about your current ventures.
Jean, thanks for the opportunity, I’m from the sunny Colombia, A Caribbean pearl you guys have to visit 😉 and if you do, please let me know to grab a beer. I studied System Engineering in National University here in Colombia, however, I learnt how to program (and design) by my own designing Flash based games ! Yes, flash, when flash and action script used to be something cool and useful.
Then I started iconshock, which currently is the biggest icon library in the planet, then themeshock where we release a new responsive wp theme each week, webdesignshock (a blog about web design) and lately designshock andwpthemegenerator and currently working on 2 amazing and new projects (but shhh).
Can you share with us how the Shock family was born and how you went about promoting it. What advertising means do you use? Did you use any marketplaces such as Themeforest?
Well, we do all the advertising and promo tasks by our own, we release freebies, create cool content and articles, release free online tools but also do standard advertising like banners and text links, I personally don’t like marketplaces, for 50% revenue we can create our own branding, sell according to our needs, decide our licensing, decide our pricing, create our own bundles, place our own logo, etc… 😉 Please note I’ve tried to buy about 5 different products from codecanyon with no luck, why ? licensing issues! they are totally ruled by cc options. That’s not for me.
Do you work as a team? If so, how do you coordinate all the work and how do you go about hiring new people?
Yes, we are a team of amazing people, both programmers and designers, I’m always hiring local designers and programmers. About coordination, it’s a hard work working in all projects, I have to keep an eve on everything, but I what can I say ? I really like this geek world and really really enjoy spending time thinking and creating new tools and ideas 😉
The WPThemeGenerator seems to be your newest and biggest project, tell us more about it.
Yes, basically it’s a totally new way of creating wp themes, it’s a theme builder but based on about 1000 pre-designed elements, so, by combining and playing with those elements and changing layouts and widget areas you can create almost any theme design you want, Additionally you can store your designed themes in your wp theme account and download your themes any time you want, all themes will be always updated with latest framework. You can start with about 350 base theme designs, To be the power of this tool, please check its features here.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered when it comes to creating responsive themes?
Well, creating responsive themes is not that hard using the right frameworks and tools, nowadays there are tons of tools to create responsive themes, the real challenge was to incorporate responsive version to our theme generator, to do that, all other elements needed to be responsive, sliders, menus, buttons, boxes, images etc… it was a headache for our developers 😉 but thanks to their talent they were able to solve it and now all themes created with the generator are fully responsive, and so all its elements.
Where do you get inspiration from when designing new themes?
I spent about 2 hours a day checking new tools for our social streams, and so our designers, each morning they spent a time in inspirational websites refreshing their minds.
Are there any online communities (e.g. Dribbble, Twitter etc) which are essential to your business?
None of the social network are essential for our business, but we do use twitter and Gplus the most. Mostly for releasing new tools and resources for the community. You can be totally sure webdesignshock twitter account is one of the best social stream for web and wp professionals, all these resources are curated by us and we send about 6 to 10 handpicked tools, resources and freebies each day.
Can you mention some plugins that you find yourself relying on when developing new WordPress sites?
YOAST seo plugin is amazing, we also use Advanced Custom Fields and Digg DIgg for social shares.
Tell us a bit about your work setup (hardware + software). Can you show us a picture of your desk?
I’m a PC based and Adobe fan guy, A picture? jeje, right now is too messy to show it to the world, but actually is pretty normal. Just to the record: I LOVE apple products, but in order to fully test all our products, PC could be better for compatibility reasons.
What new features would you like to see in upcoming versions of WordPress?
A better SEO management, more intuitive custom field management, multiple featured images, a ready to use featured video field (or featured media).
Any other online tools or resources you use on a daily basis?
For online image management nothing like: snag.gy, hootsuite for socials, for task management I use Gmail tasks (complete enough for me), google docs, pocket (read it later), DropBox, a synchronized Chrome, and Google reader.
Tell us a bit about your future plans, any new projects in the pipeline?
We are creating a supercharged jquery/worpdress slider, we are also working in a new and BIG project, can’t tell much about it but basically is a content network we have been working the latest months, it’s gonna be really nice and useful.
Again, thanks for the interview and for your work in wpmayor, it’s a great magazine for all of us.
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