Qode Interactive specializes in producing beautiful WP themes which provide customers with easy, open-ended customizability and a streamlined website creation experience. In this interview Ivan Paunovic, Co-Founder and CEO shares more on their aim to keep growing and to push the envelope in setting the new standards in contemporary web design and development.
Please share the story behind Qode Interactive: Where did it start and how has it evolved so far?
Darko Stefanovic (the co-founder of Qode Interactive) and I started the company back in 2011. In those earliest days, we did things pretty much the usual way. We did various projects for various clients and gathered a team of several people. Our web projects carried a particular accent on interactivity and design aspects, so when we came in touch with the market of WordPress themes, on ThemeForest, we realized we had a good opportunity there – that people will recognize our quality and our potential, and that we will be able to sell our themes well. And we did it, as soon as we put out our first theme. That first one was not an instant bestseller but it sold well – better than anything we did for individual clients, so it was a confirmation that we were on the right track and that we should concentrate on creating and selling themes. After releasing a couple more themes, we started thinking about growing our team. If we can beat the market with just one team, then with another one, with proper guidance and a smart choice of staff, we can do even more. And that was, in fact, the point at which our story starts to differ from anything else you normally see in the WordPress theme market. After starting two teams and putting out some immensely successful themes (our bestsellers Bridge and Stockholm), we focused on recruiting staff, organizing and creating new teams. Our concept, with a strong focus on aesthetics, proved to be successful so we wanted to scale it and make it a dominant one. We scaled, grew and expanded, and today we are proud to have a team of 130 people (which makes us one of the largest teams in the industry), 500+ WordPress themes, and a significant number of Awwwards and other recognitions under our belt.
Do you have any top tips for teams that are building their first website?
Be unique, authentic and bold. Don’t take the beaten path. The competition is fierce and if you choose to play it safe, you’ll disappear completely. Always strive to offer new things, something that’s never been done before or was perhaps done differently. Shift your focus and center it on your strongest suit. Decide what it is that you want to do and then pursue it, without ever compromising. For us, it was a sharp focus on design, on interactivity and innovation in terms of UX. And it worked. People recognized we had something completely fresh and exciting to offer. But that may not work for everyone. For some, the focus will be on, say, an advanced backend functionality, tailor-made for certain niches. Or a unique frontend solution. For us, it was always advanced design. Figure out what your strongest suit is and set your course accordingly, without trying to hit all the marks at the same time.
What are some of the fundamental things people should look for when selecting a WordPress theme?
Consider your niche and remember that not every website needs all the functionalities. You don’t have to have it all. That’s why there are niche-specific themes. At Qode Interactive we strive to create themes that unite usability and user-friendliness, a rich set of features in line with the niche the theme’s for, and design that is in line with contemporary aesthetic imperatives but that puts UX first. In fact, the design aspect is particularly important to us – a good theme should be able to leave a strong first impression with beautiful, modern sections, interactivity, animations and advanced navigation practices. If you are new to WordPress, it’s always a good idea to go for a theme by a proven author with a long track record, one that’s not going to disappear overnight. It is vital to be able to count on regular theme updates, not to mention support. Also, consider the type of builder/editor you want to use. Don’t go for a Gutenberg theme if you’re an Elementor fan, and vice versa. Finally, always check the theme compatibility with the latest WordPress version and the plugins you intend to use. These are some of the things we consider essential and that our clients never have to worry about.
WordPress popularity makes it an incredibly attractive target for hackers. What are your suggestions to secure a WordPress website?
We actually prepared a security guide that all WordPress users can use as a checklist, especially useful for beginners and everyone who’s new to WordPress, but for seasoned admins, too. Make sure to give it a look because even though WordPress is essentially secure, there are still plenty of gateways for security and performance risks due to frequent updates and the sheer number of plugins in the ecosystem. This brings us back to what I previously said – always choose a trusted theme author who takes these matters very seriously.
How do you envision the future of web development?
The only way to envision the future of anything is to carefully examine the present and try to map out the tendencies, see the possible directions. Right now, what I’m seeing is the very exciting dual dynamics between two dominant models: on one hand, we have the CMS universe, with WordPress being the herald of open-source CMSs that provide extensive scalability, flexibility and room for expansion. On the other, we have the trend of turnkey solutions that include everything from hosting to site builders, an attractive but limited opportunity for pretty much everyone to build their online presence. Both models have their virtues and both are growing at the speed of light. I believe it will be quite interesting to see if the two can somehow merge, borrow from each other, to bring forth something completely new.
I’m also very excited to see how the whole metaverse thing is going to evolve. Right now we are seeing some really incredible things coming to life, and it’s all very thrilling and makes you glad to be the witness of all of it. But it also makes me ponder about yet another dualism in web development. On one hand, there is this minimalist trend, a simplification and stripping down to the bare essentials. You need a website, you get a solution that packs it all in one, the hosting, the cloud technology, the builders, templates or site kits. It’s a trend that denounces the superfluous and focuses on functionality. On the other hand, with the metaverse, the NFTs, rich UX that transcends the limits between the physical and the digital, it’s like the sky’s the limit. So we have this contrast between simplification and complexity which I find quite interesting.
Any exciting new updates or developments that you would like to share?
We are wrapping up the premium version of the Qi Theme, which will have some 50 additional demos and certain advanced functionalities, as well as the premium version of Qi Addons for Elementor, featuring premium widgets that provide web designers with even more tools to create stunning websites and functionalities. Another thing we’re working on is the Gutenberg version of the theme, which will be FSE-ready. For those who want to follow the path WordPress traced with Full-Site Editing, we want to offer them the same experience and the same set of functionalities as with Elementor, allowing our users to choose what they are most comfortable with.
Chené is a dynamic content writer especially interested in MarTech and digital marketing. Residing in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, South Africa, her interests include being active in the outdoors, exploring the city and connecting with others.