It’s not every day that we get a dual interview here on WPHub – two for the price of one. Today, however, you’re in luck, as we get the chance to interview the founders of Organic Themes, Jeff Milone and David Morgan. The site bills itself as offering “fresh WordPress themes created for artists, bloggers, and business owners” and uses a very soothing green color scheme. You’ll love hearing about the site being developed in sunny Hawaii – WordPress in paradise!
WPHub: Thanks for joining us. Talk about founding Organic Themes and working in Maui. Tell us the story!
Jeff Milone: I was working for an IT company and was dissatisfied with it. I started doing freelance work with WordPress themes. I built my own site using WordPress back when it was only a blogging platform and could see that themes were becoming very powerful. I knew more people would use themes in the future and WordPress would become even more powerful.
I developed a theme around my site and became familiar with the process. I started answering people’s questions and was volunteering on forums and doing consulting. There was a lot of buzz surrounding WordPress at the time.
David and I went to school together and at the time, I was in Atlanta and David was on Oahu. David would design and I would develop for different clients and I saw an opportunity to start a theme shop. I asked David if he was interested, and keep in mind this is when there weren’t many theme shops.
David and I moved to Maui and we spent six months building the themes. It took six months to create the five themes we started off with. We released one theme for free and eventually created more complicated concepts around that theme and charged for it. That was the beginning of Organic Themes and it was in February 2010. The rest is history.
We started selling a lot of themes right away. We amassed a lot of e-mails based on the free theme we gave away and we were able to ramp up quickly.
David Morgan: We should probably mention that we launched our own hosting company about a year after that.
WPHub: What potential did you see in the WordPress market when you started?
Jeff Milone: WordPress was a blogging platform and there was an update available that made the backend look a lot more usable and a lot less intimidating. Once I set it up for myself, I realized that it wasn’t that hard to do. When I built my first theme, it was a mash-up of a bunch of free themes I used. I realized there wasn’t anything particularly special about themes, but they were written in the language of regular websites. With HTML and CSS, you can do anything you want and then hook into WordPress to make things dynamic.
I saw the power of one theme – how WordPress can basically allow someone to build a website that previously would have cost $100,000 to develop three years earlier.
David Morgan: It became apparent that WordPress could be used as a full-blown content management system in the future.
WPHub: Is WordPress still evolving? If so, how?
Jeff Milone: WordPress went through a rapid growth phase. This year, it has started to reach saturation in terms of demand catching up with supply. There are so many theme shops out there and they offer a big variety. There is still quite a bit of potential to innovate, though. The proliferation of theme shops was very quick. The rate of development and progress in the theme arena has been slower this year than it has been. Moving forward, innovation will be key.
David Morgan: This year, there are some trends we’re hoping to see, which could include a return to a minimalist approach in design. I think simplifying WordPress might be the name of the game. That, like Jeff said, requires innovation.
WPHub: Next Friday, we’ll talk about Organic Themes’ approach to design and learn how the company maintains its themes over time. We’ll also harp on the importance of a minimalist approach, which we’ve seen in a few other WordPress theme interviews we’ve had.