Today’s interview brings us in touch with Ana Segota, a WordPress expert, themer and web designer. Perhaps you will quickly recognise her when we talk about Anariel Design, the massively successful WordPress niche themes for bloggers, artist, restaurants & charities she’s cofounded, builds and continues to refine.We were very glad to have the opportunity to gain an insight into Ana’s work life, and hope this talk will serve as the inspiration to make your website perfect even more. Let’s discover how she manages to combine her love of web design with keeping clients happy with her WordPress themes.Ana was very kind to share with us great information about her experience and the way she works, so make yourself a nice cuppa and enjoy the read! 😉
Thanks for joining us today, Ana. Please, tell us a bit more about your background, how long have you been working with WordPress, web design, and about your current ventures.
First, thanks a lot for inviting me for the interview.Together with my better half Marko I’m co-founder of Anariel Design. We develop premium niche WordPress themes for bloggers, artists, non-profit and restaurants. Before we started this Marko was a full-time professional musician and I had just finished studies.I come from a non-coding background and actually started with WordPress by coincidence. Before I started this I had just finished Civil Engineering studies and moved to Germany. As I couldn’t find myself in Civil Engineering and wasn’t happy with the studies I finally decided to try something for myself, something I always wanted but didn’t have the opportunity, web design.Having Marko’s enormous support (I couldn’t manage this without him) I started to learn to HTML and CSS. I started with HTML templates and soon after turned to WordPress themes. I learned a lot by submitting and selling templates and themes to popular marketplace like ThemeForest and later WordPress.com. This was a good way to get feedback and learn. It also gave me confidence because often when you learn something by yourself you need someone to verify you are doing it right.After about 3 years of learning and different experiences (up and downs) with selling themes on different marketplaces we decided to open our own WordPress theme shop Anariel Design. In the meantime we were invited to sell our themes on WordPress.com for which I’m are really thankful and proud. To have an opportunity to sell our themes, there is a dream come true. As we’d also love to give something back to the community we started to regularly submit “lite” versions of our themes to WordPress.org.
When was the first time that you really got excited about web design and at what point did you decide to make it your career?
It’s hard to pin point to a certain day or event when that happened as I was always interested in design in general. So, web design came as a spontaneous choice in this internet age. When you have this feeling that you can do this the whole day and not being frustrated by it, it’s not hard to decide to make that a career:). That’s a great feeling, I’ve never had with anything before. Also being aware that I can do this from home or be able to work from any place in the world is great and motivating as well. I can have a day off when I want or I can go and travel whenever I choose to.
Where do you go first to get web design news, insights, and updates?
There are many great sites out there, unfortunately, I can’t list them all. Mostly ThemeShaper, WPTavern, Post Status, ManageWP.org, Twitter, Flipboard. I love Awwwards to follow latest trends and find some inspiration. My big inspiration for themes are documentaries that cover certain social, environmental and similar issues.
What WordPress design tips would you give to beginners (as related to themes, plugins, colours, etc.)?
It might be a cliche advice, but important is to be aware of your strengths and shortcomings and concentrate on what you do best. Take a look at what others are doing, but don’t copy. Try to do it either better or different. Find your own niche, something you love to create and where you can give your 100%. If you develop themes, don’t make a theme just because you think it will sell. Try to find a topic for the theme, research different real websites related to the topic and create a theme that will be useful for the user looking to create a site related to that topic. What is most important, do the best work you can at any given moment. Create the best theme you can, develop the best plugin, give the best support.
Confess to us your biggest moment of a design fail?
There were many fails, especially at the beginning. You should have seen the first template design that I tried to submit to ThemeForest:). However, it is all a part of the learning process. I don’t think you can avoid that and that is a good thing. Trying to get it perfect the first time will only get you frustrated.
So what does Anariel Design do? What do you think helps your solution stand out from other WordPress themes in the field?
We specialize in developing premium niche WordPress themes. All our themes are about matching unique and fresh ideas with simplicity and user-friendliness. We believe that most people need simple yet effective solutions for their online presence. This very philosophy is built into everything we do. Besides putting a lot of time and heart into our designs we put as much effort supporting our themes and giving our support human and friendly touch.Every single theme is built with a certain niche in mind and styled accordingly. We don’t bloat themes with tons of unnecessary features. Every feature included in our themes is carefully chosen to support theme’s purpose.
What are you currently working on?
Well, we’ve just started to work on our next theme. It will be a non-profit theme, which is our favorite niche. In the theme demo we’ll feature real world charity organization that we got in contact with. The other thing that will soon come to life is integration of awesome ThemeCloud.io WordPress hosting solution on our site.In the meantime I opened my own recipe blog Easy Veggie Kitchen to store all the recipes and share them with friends, family and everyone interested in healthy, easy to prepare vegetarian meals.
What’s the coolest design project you’ve ever worked on with WordPress?
Probably our Veggie WordPress theme. For the theme demo content I created my own food recipes, took pictures of meals I cooked and added these instead of the “dummy” content that is usually used.Maisha was also an interesting theme to do. I was inspired by the great documentary Virunga Movie we watched one night and I’ll confess, it made me cry like a baby. I wanted to somehow contribute to the whole project and decided to develop Maisha theme to help spread the word about it.
Are there any themes you particularly like?
I love Underscores starter theme as it is very useful when starting with the theme development, Libre, themes from Professional Themes & from CR3ATIV. There are many other themes but it is hard to list them all.
*You can actually test and navigate through Ana’s favorite themes by clicking on the pictures:
What do you think is the biggest challenge for WordPress themes to face in 2016?
That’s a hard one. I think the biggest challenge for the themes, in general is to be more user-friendly and easier to use for the non-technical end user. Accessibility is an important issue, so making themes more accessible for the people with disabilities is definitely one of the challenges. As said on the latest WordCamp US, WordPress is going in the direction of JS/API-driven development and this will also be one of the challenges for theme developers as well.
If you could change one thing about WordPress today, what would it be?
It’s share on the web from 25 % to 75 %:). There are many changes that need and probably will be done. The goal is to make working in WordPress environment as smooth and easy as possible for the customer, especially for the first time users. So, I guess this is where WordPress itself, as well as themes and plugins should be evolving the most.What new features would you like to see in upcoming versions of WordPress?- better media management- front end content editing- drag and drop pages in dashboard
Is WordPress the best CMS for design?
For me yes :).
Have you ever faced the problem of website migration? If so, how did you manage to resolve it: by converting your website data manually or via an automated tool?
I personally didn’t have to migrate any of my sites, but if I’d need to I would definitely use blogVault. Besides, offering a great backup service, they offer automated site migration feature that works like a charm. If you are moving your WordPress site this is a great tool to consider.
Tell us a bit about your working setup (hardware + software). Can you shoot us a picture of your desk?
I am using iMac, MacBook Air and Nokia Windows phone. I am using Adobe products (like Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver) and Versions.
Finally, have we missed anything? Here’s your chance to fill in the blanks and add something you want people to know about you!
I just want to say big thanks to the whole WordPress community for all the hard work they put into making WordPress a great tool that it is. WordPress has enabled many people, including myself, find their dream job and I hope it’ll keep doing that for other people in the future to come:).
Thanks, Ana. We really love the themes you produce, very clean and well built, and it was a pleasure to learn more about how you approach your work. We sincerely wish you great inspiration and best of luck with Anariel Design 🙂