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One-on-One with Organic Themes Founders Jeff Milone and David Morgan: Part 2

Posted on by in Interviews

When you interview theme developers, as this author has done several times over, questions about the WordPress themes themselves deserve a considerable amount of attention. With so many theme shops out there, how does any semblance of differentiation take place? Why should you shop at one theme shop over another? With that in mind, here’s Part 2 of WPHub’s sit-down interview with Organic Themes founders Jeff Milone and David Morgan. If you messed Part 1 you can get caught up Here

WPHub: What differentiates Organic Themes from other theme shops out there?

Jeff MiloneJeff Milone: From the beginning, we tried to develop designs that speak to people. We have consistently heard that from our clients, and a lot of that comes from David. David designs all of our themes and is behind that. The feedback has been that our designs are universally appealing without being bland.

We’ve also heard that we try to take care of every single person. We always update our themes and don’t usually retire themes. We usually go back and update themes with technology like responsiveness and retina displays. We’ll also update the design itself. We don’t want the design or technology of the theme to get stale.

WPHub: What goes into maintaining current themes over time? How much time is needed to update a theme?

Jeff Milone: If you have a large number of themes, there’s a point of diminishing returns when it comes to updating them, but we’ve always tried to keep a manageable number of themes and go for quality over mass quantity. We have almost 20 themes now, so there are quite a few.

We like to keep them curated. We find that keeping our themes up-to-date reduces support as opposed to having a few that are of retirement age and then having to deal with old code. There may come a day when we get rid of themes, but people like to have their themes updated. When they buy a theme and then see that the technology, code, and theme itself have been updated, they find value and it helps with word-of-mouth advertising.

david morganDavid Morgan: Since it’s a rebuild with new options, it takes a couple of weeks to update a theme. We release bug fixes and minor updates all the time as well, but those usually only take a couple of hours.

WPHub: With so much updating going on, how does Organic Themes allocate its resources?

David Morgan: Bug fixes come first. As far as the major updates go, it’s more demand-based, or what our customers are asking for. Then, our oldest themes get prioritized.

WPHub: In Part 1 of our interview, you stressed simple designs. Can you elaborate on what you mean and tell us why it’s important?

David Morgan: It’s a minimalist approach with not a whole lot of gradients or background images. There aren’t complicated layouts. It’s a design that can be molded to fit someone’s brand quickly. It can be customer-driven.

I’ve noticed with a lot of WordPress themes, they try to add everything in there. The home page will have a feature slider, 10 widget areas, a blog, and everything else WordPress offers. We’ve been trying to scale that back. We recently updated our Photographer theme and scaled it back to only a feature slideshow on the home page. My wife is a photographer and it’s nice to be able to get feedback about what they’d want. Usually, it’s not everything under the sun.

WPHub: We’ll wrap up our theme discussion by asking you what Organic Themes’ best-selling theme is.

Dave Morgan: Portfolio and Structure are our best-selling themes. We’ve had thousands of people download them. Structure is our most circulated theme. There was a free version of it released on WordPress.com. That was one of the first themes we released on Organic Themes. Part of its popularity is the versatility of its design. It’s a clean layout. People can use it for whatever their business is.

Jeff Milone: Structure was the first theme we gave to WordPress.com as a free theme. It has had a lot of exposure, which helps, but there’s something about the design too. Every once in a while, a WordPress theme will just fit something so well with what people want. It’s also really functional.

We released a free version of Structure in the beginning and saw a massive number of downloads. The free version is in the hundreds of thousands of downloads.

Dave Morgan: By the way, WordPress.com contacted us about carrying the theme. We didn’t initiate contact with them to release it for free on the site. We were happy to do so. It also helps that it was early in the game, probably two years ago. They’ve come back to us as well, so we have another theme called Blissful Blog that’s free on there as well.

WPHub: Next time, we’ll dive into the structure of Organic Themes and learn what the company is currently working on. Click over to Organic Themes to download Structure or any of the other available themes today.

If you missed Part 1 of our interview with Jeff and David click Here.

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