This is the first installment of a new interview series at WPCandy called Indie Interviews. In these interviews we’ll be focusing on new WordPress related startups, the people involved, the obstacles they overcome, and where they hope to go with WordPress.
In this week’s installment I was happy to sit down for a few minutes with Darcy Clarke, co-founder of the new-this-month Themify, a new WordPress themes company. Full video and transcript are available after the jump.
View the transcript of the interview
Ryan: Thanks for taking some time out of your weekend to do this interview Darcy, I really appreciate it.
Darcy: No problem.
Ryan: First, for those of us who don’t know, maybe tell us a little bit about yourself, and what brought you here.
Ryan: What was it about the WordPress theme industry that interested you and Nick and made you want to start up Themify?
Darcy: We sort of had this idea that there were a couple of things we didn’t like about the premium services. Most definitely we felt there weren’t a lot of tools and assets for other developers to scale. So we started off with a grand idea on what we wanted to do, a whole list of things we wanted to see come out of the project. Then we sort of narrowed down on the stuff we thought was unique, so we weren’t just copying a lot of other people. We tried to do a really good job at making those features really great. We really thought that we could find certain things that were lacking within the other theme companies.
Ryan: You mentioned being primarily a backend developer. How has being more comfortable with PHP helped you when creating themes for other people?
Darcy: I think the biggest thing was the framework that everything is built on. I don’t think someone coming from a frontend design point of view, and then starting with WordPress would come up with some of the tools that we have built into the framework. So I think that really helped.
Coming at it from a different perspective, I’ve built a lot of content management systems myself. I’ve worked with MVC frameworks like Code Ignitor, CakePHP, that kind of stuff. So I come from a history of a lot of backend development that let me see what there needed to be as far as a good foundation for the themes. Now we’re able to scale a lot better, and being only a two man team that was one of the things we wanted to do.
Ryan: It is you and Nick, do you divide up work on a design and development basis, or do you really just both attack things as they come?
Ryan: You have four themes out right now, with a fifth pretty close?
Darcy: Yeah, it should have been released last week. [laugh] We should have had it out the door last week, but we’ll have it out the door early this week. It’s going to be a free theme for everyone.
Darcy: Yeah, we’re hoping to not only let people who have money have a chance to look at what we’ve built but we’re hoping to open up the doors to other people and give away a couple free themes over the next month hopefully. That’s something we hope to do and give back to the community in other ways.
Ryan: A lot of people are jumping in and selling WordPress themes right now. Have you found in the past few months putting this together that it’s difficult to get into, or has it been an easy road in?
Darcy: As far as the WordPress community, I didn’t have that much clout. Not that many people even still know who I am. But I had a pretty extensive run-in with a more local community. As far as the WordPress theme community, it’s been hard because we felt when we launched that there were a lot of people that might be sitting on top of something similar and waiting to launch something. So it did seem like there might be a little bit of over saturation.
But we’re looking at the positive. We’ve seen great, great feedback. What we’re doing is different, and the saturation is going to happen one way or another. I think you will really see in the next few months, the ones that are doing quality work are going to rise above.
Our approach is right now we’re not looking at quantity we’re looking at quality. The quality right now, we think, is pretty good.
Ryan: The quality of your themes seems great. I’ve been playing around with one of them for a review, also hopefully for this week. Do you have a personal favorite of the four themes right now, or even the fifth that’s coming?
Darcy: The latest one that we’re pushing out is going to be something that’s far cleaner of a slate. I actually like it a lot. I’m actually very fond of the one theme that Nick put together called Sidepane. It works well on a lot of different levels. I’m a big UI guy, and I love layouts. It fits well and I think it looks awesome.
Ryan: I noticed on your blog that you mentioned in September that you’ll begin working on Themify full time.
Darcy: I’ve been working at a great agency for about a year and a bit now. Just recently, doing this with Nick, I’ve decided to pursue Themify full time with Nick and make sure that we can give that level of support and quality, and push out more and more themes and updates.
It’s also going to allow me to give back to the open source community at large. Nick and I have a couple of different ideas for Plugins and stuff that we want to give back to the community. I don’t think there was any way to faciliatate that any other way than do to do that full time. So I’m making a big change in September.
Ryan: I’m assuming with your soon-to-be-past full time job, and your jobs before that, you had clients. How would you compare interfacing with clients to supporting your themes and growing your club?
Darcy: We’ve already had numerous people asking for feature requests, that sort of thing. There were a couple of bugs that came up too. With the amount of different people’s configurations, installations, you know, we find there are way more problems than we intended. We’ve been able to mitigate them.
The biggest difference I find with clients vs. users of your product is the fact I want to help my users. [laugh] Clients most of the time, it’s their vision, their idea, and it’s very hard to steer them one way or another. With a product you’ve developed, it’s your idea, your vision. And you’re just trying to support your users and just listen to them, and take their feedback and throw it back into new ideas for that product. It’s a lot different in that respect. I feel like I have a lot more freedom. Two different ball parks.
Ryan: As we wrap up here, is there anything more you would like to say?
Darcy: We’re still sitting on a bunch of stuff that nobody’s really dug into yet. Right now we’re still aiming at the end user and design community. There is a big development push that we’ll probably make in mid September.
As far as anything I’d like them to know, just if you download a theme you can check it out. If you’re waiting for the free theme that’s okay, I don’t mind you guys waiting. [laugh] Just check it out, look at it, and eventually we’ll be able to get some more tutorials and that kind of stuff up on how to expand and develop on the framework that’s actually there. And that’s one of the key aspects of what we’ve done is built something really cool that can scale and be flexible and make everyone money at some point. [laugh]
Ryan: Yeah, that’s always good. Nobody can complain about that. Thanks a lot Darcy, I appreciate it. Good luck with Themify.
Darcy: Take care.