Interview with the Top Monster of Web Design

Today we are having a special guest. Those who keep track of web design news, probably, already know that Top-3 template providers on TrustPilot now has the name of TemplateMonster among them. The company is in the market for over 14 years and has made major gains in the web design area. David Braun, TemplateMonster CEO and co-founder, also a successful businessmen and a bright personality is here telling about his company and uncovering his own secrets.

Interviewer: Hello David! We are really happy that you have found time for this interview. Our readers would be extremely interested in learning about TemplateMonster and about your experience in web design area. Perhaps, the most obvious question to start with is about the background of TemplateMonster. How did it all start?
David Braun: Well, it all started back in 1998. A group of young computer geeks with me amongst them started a small local web studio in a tiny office on the outskirts. We had 7 people of the permanent staff and several more working with us from time to time. These were good times. We were fully satisfied with what we were doing and hardly desired anything more. However, very soon it became clear that there was a great demand for our products. Moreover, the demand was so big that we were unable to satisfy it working with such a small team. In search of a decision, we came up with the idea of ready-made templates. So, actually, TemplateMonster started several years before its official birthday in 2002.
Interviewer: Why TemplateMONSTER? Are you in love with the monsters?
David Braun: (laughs) Not me actually. I don’t know, this idea was a kind of spontaneous. We didn’t choose the name for the company for a long time. When this question emerged, we had a small meeting. And our chief designer said: „Let it be TemplateMonster”. Basically, it was him who was obsessed with the monster and drew them everywhere he could reach out:) We thought, why not. Checked the domain name and it was available. So, as you see, there is no deep history behind the company’s name.

Interviewer: So TemplateMonster is actually almost 20 years old? That’s quite an age for the web design niche. You were basically standing at the origins of this industry. What were the key company’s milestones?
David Braun: Yes, we were among the first in the market who started selling ready-made templates. And for the first several years we were almost monopolists in the niche. The company has undergone lots of stages since then. At the very beginning, we were producing only PSD files. Later on, we switched to HTML. Then it was the era of Flash. It got extremely popular and we tried not to fall behind from the trend. So we had to enlarge our team with illustrators, animators and musicians. After Flash died out we focused on producing CMS themes. This is where lots of programmers came in. We were constantly improving our support and pre-sales system. Marketing department became essential with the appearance of the competitors on the market. So extending step by step we came up with what we have now.

Interviewer: Who do you consider your principal competitors and what are your advantages over them?

David Braun: I would name ThemeForest, ElegantThemes… Perhaps, Wix, but they are using a different scheme. Yes, I think these are the major ones. Now concerning the advantages of TemplateMonster themes. First of all, this is our support. No other company provides free lifetime support. Then, we have 26K templates to offer. ThemeForest has also a huge collection, but all the themes are created by different developers. We are in charge of every template we provide. All of them are up-to-date, with powerful functionality and highly flexible. Even a beginner will be able to manage and customize them. We also offer services of TM Service Center for those who don’t want or don’t have time to customize the template themselves.

Interviewer: I think I know the answer, but still, what is the most popular CMS? And what is the bestselling template at TemplateMonster?

David Braun: The most popular CMS today is clearly WordPress. And I really think it will be like this for a long time. Why? Because the majority of the people who start a website are far from being coding gurus. And WordPress is the best option for the beginners. The most intuitive and the most powerful CMS. And thanks to the thousands of plugins available you can extend the functionality of your website however you like. During the last year, we were focusing on multipurpose design. We have launched lots of cool multipurpose templates. Until recently Monstroid was our top bestseller. However, a couple of months ago we started a new generation of multipurpose WordPress themes with Monstroid2. And judging by the number of sales it is going to be our new leader.

Interviewer: You mentioned that even the beginner can maintain the template. Who is your target audience? Do you aim for the end users or web developers can make advantage of your templates as well?
David Braun: The majority of our customers are small business owners, individual professionals, bloggers, photographers, etc. So I can say that mostly we target at the end user. We understand that most of them have a rather vague idea of how the template works from the inside. So we equip our themes with powerful visual builders to minimize the direct user’s contact with the code and to provide smoother customization. However, web studios and web developers can benefit from our templates as well. We have quite a big collection of GPL licensed themes, which allows using them for whatever number of projects, editing the source code, and gives you an absolute freedom. Creating a website for a client from scratch you lose a lot of time on the design and the basic functionality. Instead, you can use a ready-made theme add whatever you need and adjust it to the client’s project. As a result, you save a lot of time, can complete more projects and increase your income.

Interviewer: Sounds reasonable. Who else can benefit from your products?

David Braun: I would say anyone and this is not an exaggeration. First of all, we invite everyone to join our affiliate program. Our commission rate is among the highest on the web and we offer a progressive commission plan. The percent you get hinges on the number of the sales you make per month. We provide all the necessary tools for free. You will have your own affiliate manager and possibility to grow. Another project I want to mention is Social Stock. It is aimed at dynamic people with active social life. Social Stock allows anyone winning a number of valuable prizes, including Tesla Model S. This is already the second round of the project, by the way. We launched it first a year ago and we had a rather active response. So we decided to give it a second turn. Coming back to the web studios. Just recently we have launched a project that would be interesting for them. Any web studio or individual web developer can be included in TemplateMonster Web Studios Catalogue and become our certified partner. This means that when a client buys a theme from us and wants to make some changes, he can find you in the list (there is a possibility of search by country/state/city) and contact you for some services. The only thing you need to do to be added to the list is to pass Certification Center course. This is not difficult and won’t take you much time. Passing the test successfully you get the TemplateMonster certificate, verifying your high level of proficiency.

Interviewer: Sounds like there are a lot of opportunities for anyone. And what about the off-stage life of TemplateMonster? What do you guys do except for work?

David Braun: Oh, lots of things. I’m really proud and happy that I have such a wonderful team. We are really close and enjoy spending time together outside the office. We often travel, take part in various sports events and charity. We have an active social position and try to help and support those who need it as possible.

Interviewer: If you don’t mind we set by a couple of personal questions for the end of our interview. How do you manage and organize your work time? How do you deal with many tasks, do you use special task-manager?
David Braun: Yes, sometimes it’s difficult not even to manage, but to remember all the things you need to do. However, when we speak about the company management, I solved this question due to the well-thought allocation of responsibilities in the team. Each person is in charge of his own sector. And I have already mentioned that I have a really great team. So, mostly there are no problems with it. Concerning my own tasks, during my career, I have tried dozens of time management techniques, tools and apps. Among those I still use are Toggle and MLO for the iPhone. However, I need to confess that the best tool to remind me of some things I need to do is still a pen and a piece of paper labeled to my laptop or the door of the office:)
Interviewer: What classic car do you remember the most from your childhood? Maybe you own one nowadays?
David Braun: In my childhood I was in love with Ford Mustang 67. I remember I had a collection of car models and Ford Mustang was my favorite one. I always thought that when I grew up I would drive such a car. However, now I own Dodge and am pretty happy with that.
Interviewer: Ok, thank you very much, David. It was really interesting to talk to you. I think our readers will learn a lot of important information from this interview. One last question to wind up. In your opinion, what is the most important thing in running a business?
David Braun: I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years already, and the main thing I learnt is that the only key to success is to know your customer. You should use every opportunity to get to know you customer better. The more you know about him, the more you can offer. This is not everything, of course. There are lots of nuances in running a business. However, knowing your audience and your customer is a cornerstone of success.

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