WordPress Theme development is no easy feat. Even though there are hundreds, if not thousands of WordPress themes available out there for free or premium, you can’t just start making your own out of thin air, unless you’re a programming nerd.
There are probably hundreds of resources out there that discuss WordPress Theme development out there in a lot more detail, diving deeper on the technical aspects.
However, this is not one of those. This article is a story…
A story of how a WordPress theme started and became one of the most popular and critically acclaimed WordPress themes out there!
How did Brainstorm Force start and what inspired you to build products like Astra?
Most of you know about Brainstorm Force as the company behind some of the leading WordPress products such as:
We as a team always come up with improvements or even brand new products that the WordPress community can benefit from. But, we didn’t start off as a software or product company. As a matter of fact, we started just like you.
10 years ago — as a web design agency.
Many people don’t know this part…
Brainstorm Force was started as a web design and web development agency in 2009. And, Like any new agency or new freelancer, we did everything. Literally everything!
Every project, we could get our hands-on. You name it — logo design, business card design, email newsletters, banners, mobile apps, and so on. It was really hectic to work on varied projects with fixed deadlines and a lot to do.
Being settled in India, almost every project we received was outsourced from countries across the world. And of course, with outsourcing — you can imagine what usually comes.
The clients we won at first were the ones who were looking for the lowest price and of course, the fastest turnaround time. You’ll probably relate to this. Then we got more clients… more projects and it became worse.
It became challenging to manage costs because of all the additional tools needed. The long hours caused stress and occasional burnouts.
At that point, I started doing some introspection to find a better way to handle things. So like any web entrepreneur — all I could think of at this time was — Research!
I started looking out for a better model to run a web development agency and tried learning from a few successful ones. The agencies I studied that had 100+ clients but also managed them efficiently. And of course, they had to be profitable. And most importantly, they were not burning themselves to the ground working all the time.
I dug into these ideas and started implementing them at Brainstorm Force. We used all these ideas successfully to more than double our revenues every single year since 2009.
As we grew further, we too got exposed to more and more clients. With that exposure, came more perspective and we realized something else.
There was a gap in the WordPress ecosystem.
It was not always easy to build websites faster and scale this process across all clients.
And we weren’t alone here. So, we thought of building solutions that helped us and others like us.
We went back to the drawing board and started creating products the community can use.
Plugins, Themes, Extensions, and so on.
We, at Brainstorm Force wanted to ensure that agencies like us can also thrive and succeed.
Today, Brainstorm Force’s mission is simple
“To Cut Down Your Web Development Time by Half”.
Every product built by the team is focused on helping WordPress professionals save time, resources, and effort in building websites.
And the resources we create, such as blog posts, interviews, guides, and even the courses offered through SkillJet — are to help one build and grow a successful agency.
This is probably the most inspiring and touching tech origin story I’ve read in a while! It’s just admiring how these guys are so humble on what they love to do. No wonder they’re so successful now.
Any major roadblocks you’ve encountered along the way?
Nothing goes smoothly! There were many roadblocks that way. But, the ones worth mentioning are:
- Existing WordPress solutions we worked with were not so great.
- Clients weren’t that good too – as explained in the story.
- Google updates caused issues for our SEO clients.
But we learned our ways and adopted our business. Right now, we’re almost an 11-year-old company that has helped build over 2 million websites with our products.
These are certainly helpful information for other aspiring web developers that want to start their career in WordPress theme development.
What are the best resources that have helped you on your journey?
I was just 17 when I read the book “The Dream” by Gurbaksh Chahal. This was the source of my inspiration while starting Brainstorm Force. It is an autobiography of an Entrepreneur who sold two businesses for over $300 million at the age of 25. It was around that time when I watched Pirates of Silicon Valley over 10 times.
What do you think your unique skill(s) that have helped you become successful?
I believe that one can never stop learning. I love learning and adapting to things has helped me a lot.
A short but impactful answer indeed.
How did Elementor impact Astra?
The landscape of WordPress has changed a lot. In the early days of WordPress, themes were very different, they used to be difficult to customize.
We’ve built Astra to be a modern theme that works great with page builders like Elementor. Now non-coders and even professionals can build websites faster.
Our mission with Astra is to cut down the website development time by half and Elementor helps us achieve that.
I couldn’t agree more. Elementor and Astra were born like twins of each other. They work so perfectly and have indeed helped us achieve a lot of our goals.
What should we expect in the coming years for Brainstorm Force and Astra?
Our goals for Astra are simple and incremental, yet ambitious. Astra was born as the fastest, customizable and flexible WordPress theme. We strive to make it faster, easier and more reliable with every update we release. This can actually be seen in a couple of major updates that we’ve released.
As for Brainstorm Force, it will continue contributing to this wonderful WordPress community — may it be through updates in Astra or many small, free and premium plugins that we usually work on.
“Needs give rise to Innovation” — and that’s how we work.
Every time we come across a time-consuming activity, we might as well build a plugin that eases that for us and others like us. 🙂
Do you foresee any plugins that will dominate the market sometime in the future?
I think Gutenberg plugins will continue to rise because the new block editor is improving quite a lot. This is also the main reason I’ve created EditorsKit — to be able to continue to grow it alongside the changes in WordPress.
Before ending the chat, we decided to ask him about some tips for plugin development, since that’s one of the ventures we’re considering here at Elementor Resources.
What do you think of the future of WordPress and Elementor?
WordPress has come a long way through. Right from the days when it was a popular blogging tool, to the better CMS platform and application framework, WordPress has gone far and wide to bring in all kinds of users.
As WordPress is an open-source platform, it’s growing every day, thanks to its huge community and extendibility. I believe this growth is unstoppable.
As for Elementor, I have had a chance to spend some time with the Elementor team in various WordCamps. They are very passionate about empowering web professionals and I have huge respect from them.
What do you think of Gutenberg and how would it affect page builders in the future?
Gutenberg makes up a handy and easy WordPress editor. It does help design blogs and pages easily. But, again, it is just a year old and cannot fully compete with the page builders that have been ruling the community.
Page builders like Elementor are way ahead and have lots of widgets that make web designing easier. Whereas Gutenberg comes with basic blocks and isn’t enough to build a complete website alone.
However, it’s just a year to comment much on this. I have heard people grumbling about Gutenberg when it was just in the beta — but later they loved it. So, you never know!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to build WordPress products?
Don’t just build a product. Build a business around it. Most WordPress products are built out of passion, which is great.
But the downside of that — we see only a handful of quality products that have remained in the business. Price your products fairly, offer professional support and build a great business.
That is the greatest service you can do to your customers.
Where can our visitors connect with you online?
Thanks for making this far! 🙂
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