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I'm Mario Peshev, CEO and WordPress Architect @ DevriX. Ask me anything!

Sep. 14, 2016

Hey there,

My name is Mario Peshev. I'm the CEO of DevriX, a distributed WordPress company with 25 folks (3 WordPress Core contributors) across 7 countries specializing in long-term business, development and growth retainer contracts for successful businesses.

I built my first "website" in 1999, along with my first automated programs in QBasic and Pascal (for educational purposes). I've been actively participating in hundreds of digital endeavors ever since, with WordPress being my true passion as the perfect framework for the Web.

Ask me anything!

Comment
22 votes   Flag
Milan Ivanović

Hey, Mario,

Thank you so much for doing this AMA.

My first question would be on the current state of WordPress and where do you see WordPress in, let's say two to five years?

I know that DevriX expanded a lot lately (devrix.com/about/team/) and would like to learn more about the challenges you guys were facing? What was the most challenging thing with getting that many people?

And the easiest one: Are you coming to WCSofia2016? :)

Thanks!

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey brate,

Happy to be here, thanks for having me :)

1. That's a good question. One of the things I've been trying to discuss at large US WordCamps is the lack of a roadmap or any public long-term planning that would make your question obsolete. This was covered again recently in the "US vs. THEM" series of posts (ironically "us" is also the abbr of the United States which is very applicable with the European, Asian, South American or African communities).

Personally I don't see any drastic changes with WordPress in terms of innovations or massive enhancements coming soon. Other than the REST API which has been pending for, I don't know, a couple years now maybe, the rest would be mostly admin updates and revamp, probably some simplifications here and there. I assume that two or three really innovative features would pop up over the next 3-5 years, but nothing revolutionary per se.

My main problem with the plan that I personally see myself is that we're competing with Wix, Squarespace, Tumblr and the like, which I don't see as major competitors in the business space, and it also seems to be a "race to the bottom" to some extend. But that's a complicated matter and we'll see how this one goes over the next couple of years.

2. Growth is always complicated - it was easy when there were 6-8 of us, then getting to 15ish was a nightmare as we had to start introducing more strict policies and management layers in order to handle everything. Additionally, we branched out into several departments - currently technical, creative, marketing, business development, each having a senior lead coordinating with other folks in the same department and brainstorming together with the other team leads.

There are various issues there - from interviewing, test assignments, hiring procedures, security policies, onboarding process and what not, adhering to the company guidelines and regulations and what not. I've shared some tips and tricks in my talk from WordCamp Europe this year in Vienna - wordpress.tv/2016/07/03/mario-peshev-managing-remote-wordpress-team/ :)

3. Yup, we're 10 people or so from DevriX there, and maybe some of us will speak... :)

Cheers

Reply
Nevena Tomovic

Hey Mario,

My question is related to your switch from a freelancer to a business owner. Recently I have been doing lots of interviews and asking people what made them go for it, and where do you start?

What was the first step from a freelancer to a business consultant?

How did you get along with all of the business side of things?

Thanks!

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Nevena,

The switch was challenging indeed, but frankly I did spend a few years at large enterprises working closely with all departments (including building financial software applications, eRPs, CRMs and the like), then a few years as a freelancer and living with a business owner (my mother) for a while, which thought me invaluable lessons on running a business and everything outside of your core skill set - i.e. accounting, legal, project management, sales, building a personal brand, etc.

That said, a successful freelancer already employs most of the skills/qualities needed for a business owner - especially when working with other freelancers and consultants for a few years.

The main challenges with hiring were the higher monthly income that I had to guarantee in order to pay salaries, and spending my business days coaching and mentoring while working at night. I think that Shane from Modern Tribe once said that he's gone through the same, and hiring the first employee is the hardest thing, the second one is easier, and so on.

For me building the business meant working on larger projects, solving more problems, specializing in different fields and delivering more results in a shorter amount of time. A freelancer's business is on hold when he/she's away, while a business is always running, which was driving me forward. :)

Reply
Emanuel Costa

Hi Mario! Thanks for the AMA. We met at WCUS and I asked you a bunch of questions, thanks for being so supportive to the community and for having answered all my questions. WordCamp hallway tracks really pays off :)

Question 1: Are you attending any WordCamp in the US in 2016?

One of the best articles you wrote in my opinion was about the so called "WordPress Developers" that don't code. To me this is the biggest problem in the WordPress ecossystem. I had many conversations with clients that had bad previous experience with people that "sold" themselves as developers but they are just integrators or designers. And to make things worse, because of theirs lack of knowledge, they blamed WordPress to these clients.

Question 2: Do you think an official trainning/certificate could help? What are good WordPress courses for developers that you recommend?

Hope we can meet again sometime soon.

Thanks a lot!

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Emanuel,

Sure, it was a pleasure - I recall sitting next to the watercooler in the main sponsors' area while talking WordPress and business :)

1. Probably WordCamp US this year, although I haven't bought the tickets yet. Other than that I don't plan any US trips over the next months, but it depends on the business meetings planned for the 4th quarter.

Thanks for referring to devwp.eu/dont-call-yourself-a-developer-if-you-dont-code/ - it was somewhat controversial based on the comments (and the fact that it made it to reddit and hacker news in just a couple of hours), but unfortunately it's true. That's one of the biggest bottlenecks for me in the WordPress ecosystem, having hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of service providers offering services under the wrong label. I don't mind site builders installing themes, but I feel really uncomfortable when people who offer development and programming services can't tell PHP from JavaScript.

2. I do, but that's been discussed numerous times at large WordCamps and there's the concern of commercialism of a training institution (or hacking the certification path one way or the other) while limiting people who can't afford paying for a training or a certificate. It's a complicated matter, but for starters I firmly believe that we need to define some titles the way that the Drupal community does through Acquia, i.e.:

www.acquia.com/customer-success/learning-services/acquia-certification-program-overview

Apparently they classify service providers in different categories, from Drupal Core experts through back-end and front-end developers down to site builders, which is totally okay as long as the client is aware of what they're paying for and what qualification does their service provider hold.

But yeah, it's tough - we'll see what will happen over the next years :)

Reply
Nemanja Aleksic

Hey Mario,

If you post your WordCamp calendar, you'll probably cut down the number of questions in half :)

1) A lot of times I see WordPress professionals struggling with soft skills, i.e. they can't negotiate the adequate fee for their work, because they can't convey the value of their work. Do you have any word of advice for them?

2) Bulgaria has become an IT powerhouse in the past decade. What did it do differently from all the other nations in the region that made it so successful?

3) You work globally and travel regularly over the Atlantic, do you ever face prejudice because of your nationality?

3) How do you keep your beard so epic?

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Nemanja,

That WordCamp calendar thing is tricky - you know how it is, you can hardly refuse several invites from incredible people for a great event, especially when a Kafana comes in play! On a more serious note, I do cancel some trips due to local meetings, or connect business trips with WordCamps, or travel depending on speaking engagements, so it's often vague for the most part.

1. Sure. First off, there's a pricing book on Code Poet - build.codepoet.com/2012/05/11/getting-pricing-right/ - several people sharing business insight when it comes to pricing and negotiations, this is definitely the first resource.

Then there's my friend Troy Dean who's also had AMA here, and his 101 ways to demand higher fees -

Obviously there's Chris Lema too - chrislema.com/pricing-tips/

Other than that it's about always improving your skills, providing real value in a timely manner, and selling solutions, not technologies. Customers don't care what function, widget or plugin you'll use for whatever, they care about traffic, sales, conversions, user experience, reducing churn and bounce rates and things like that. They care about building and strengthening a brand, increasing exposure, build partnership, retain clients and convert them to brand advocates.

Basically the more you sell real value and solve actual problems, the easier would it be to sell a practical solution. Especially for already established businesses asking for a redesign or migration or something else - their revenue from a platform is well known, and you can use that as a basis for the ROI of your services.

Two of my guest posts on learning technical skills and providing value:

www.wpelevation.com/2015/11/wordpress-install-developed-solutions/
www.wpelevation.com/2015/02/grow-your-business/

I have a few of those in my blog of course, but happy to reply back if you want me to elaborate.

2. Incredibly fast internet connectivity (I think that Sofia is one of the best connected cities worldwide or so), a European mindset, a EU member since Jan 2007, and a successful background in engineering and electronics over the past 30 years - from several warehouses for microprocessors, conductors, resistors etc. through raising the parents of the inventor of the digital computer - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Vincent_Atanasoff .

There are other explanations too, but those are the more rational and explainable ones I guess.

3. Not really - there's always the US vs. the rest of the world when I travel there, which is valid for most countries outside of the US with the exception of the Scandinavian ones and UK, Germany, France, Italy, maybe Spain and the Netherlands. So far I haven't had issues with NSA or certain institutions or so, simply because I don't care about that and interact the way I would do with everyone else.

4. Been nurturing it for about ten years now, it's super important and I can hardly imagine myself beard-naked anymore! :)

Reply
Peter Nikolow

1. How you seen the future of WP? Because many other CMS systems make few mistakes (few Drupal versions and Joomla "no update path" for version 1.5 are just small examples). Don't blame me but there are also few examples - like Emoji code in head.

2. Do you think that we could see some new database system? Could be pgsql, sqlite and/or other.

3. And last one... what do you think about acceleration? It's year of 2016 and we still need PHP 5.2 as minimum requirements for WP.

Will see you and team in WC Sofia 2016!

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Peter,

1. I've responded in the first question of this thread as Milan asked a similar thing, let me know if you want to discuss that from a different angle?

2. There's the concept of a WP DB driver - github.com/markoheijnen/wp-db-driver - I've tried to push some patches that support Postgres to some extent, but I hit a number of limitations and a lot of performance overhead as well since it was relying on the existing DB infrastructure and core driver.

3. That's a tough topic that's discussed at every large WordCamp, especially when Matt is giving a Q&A session.

I do think that WordPress should support 5.5 or more as a minimum version, and that hosting providers will follow as soon as WordPress announces that 6-9 months upfront. Right now the thesis of the leadership team revolves around backwards compatibility and "leave no one behind", and also the platform allows you to run PHP 7 or so on your system and take advantage of the performance gains.

My personal issue is the outdated coding limitations and inability to use modern approaches from PHP 5.3 and onward, like late static binding, namespaces, closures and others that would limit code conflicts, make the code more readable and reusable (traits as well) and generally make programming more professional. Some plugins and tools already require at least PHP 5.3 and they simply can't provide debugging capabilities or provide multi-platform backups with reliable intermediate layers if an outdated PHP version is supported as well.

See you in a few weeks at WordCamp Sofia 2016 :)

Reply
Aleksandar

Hi Mario,

I am glad to see you on AMA.

In your opinion, what is the biggest danger to WordPress in the future?

What to visit in Sofia except the Harem Paradise :)

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Aleks,

Harem is a great place, in fact that's where I'm answering from right now - www.instagram.com/p/BKVbXejA9Hi/ :)

1. The biggest danger from my perspective is WordPress being too complicated for beginner users with Wix, Squarespace and Weebly while not focusing on enterprise verticals (large enterprises, governments and others) the way that Drupal, for example, does, together with Rails and other industry frameworks.

I remember that back in 2007 or so WordPress was the easiest CMS of 'em all and was the de facto most user friendly solution. Nowadays the admin dashboard is cluttered for users that only want to post news or updates, and they get lost in all of the Tools, Settings, Comments, Appearance, Plugins and what not admin menus of the vanilla WordPress, not to mention the installs that incorporate 30 extra plugins adding menus everywhere.

At DevriX we provide solutions for enterprises in different industries, including the automotive and airline ones, and often need additional layers of security, integrations with LDAP and others used in intranets and large corporations with very custom and unique internal VPNs. WordPress can integrate these, but it's not seamless. For example, the whole login component in ASP.NET MVC is separate and could be replaced completely with anything that you can dream of, from social media login through various two-factor authentication components, placed everywhere and included whenever you want. That kind of "hardcoded" limitations often play tricks when negotiating with large clients outside of the media space.

As for Sofia, just come over and we'll arrange a few dinners, hookah meetups and introduce you to the Sofia tour that's totally worth it :)

Reply
Sinisa Nedeljkovic

Hello Mario,

It was great pleasure to listen you on WordCamp Belgrade last year, and thank you for this opportunity to ask you some questions.

1. What is your preference in general, to keep providing high level support to client businesses or to develop your own product? At the moment, I'm denying to start business by scaling up professional services. What is your opinion on that?

2. Since I'm coming from eCommerce, I'm curious what is your opinion on WooCommece as platform for ecommerce, comparing it with solutions like Prestashop, Shopify, Magento... Do you see it as good fit for projects that you're working on?

3. Any recommendation for book you've recently read, blog to follow, podcast, etc?

Big thanks,
Sinisa

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Sinisa,

Thanks for the kind compliment re: WordCamp Belgrade, it was a pleasure attending and helping out as well!

1. I see three verticals that are profitable in the WordPress space:
a) unique quality services
b) great extensible generic WordPress plugins
c) Software as a Service applications

The services space is the most popular one for obvious reasons, mainly the large community of freelancers and digital agencies. This could be scaled and can be successful with the right talent on board and unique proposition.

The plugins space is still somewhat available, although there's a ton of competition, users aren't used to paying proper fees for plugins (or for renewal licenses), and most of the logical verticals are already covered (eCommerce, form builders, event calendars etc.). There's still room for improvement though, and you can either with with a bundle of various complimentary plugins, or a new player in the market that's outstanding and provides real value.

The SaaS space is my personal favorite since we've built 7 Software as a Service applications on top of WordPress that sold hundreds of thousands or even millions over the past years. This is a great way to create a product and bundle it in a hosted solution, and provide unique user experience or workflow for your customers. Moreover, you can target the remaining 70%+ market of people who are used to paying for services and good quality.

A SaaS solution could be incorporated in any platform out there, including mobile applications and custom frameworks. Since most clients paying for non-WordPress solutions are used to paying 5, 10, 20, 50 times more than what a standard WordPress client pays, they would see the financial benefit of a monthly recurring solution that charges $10 per month or even $50/m and more if it brings $500, $5000 or $25,000 extra income per month.

2. I've used Magento for a very large project with a lot of custom payment gateways, including ones that are hardware-based (think of smart cards or non-bank related prepaid credit cards with custom POS terminals). It's super flexible, very heavy, but really customizable and I can definitely see why it's a preferred tool of choice for many large businesses.

OpenCart is also interesting, although last time I checked customizing it was a nightmare and required a dozen new classes for a new module, as a minimum.

WooCommerce has some issues with the default database schema that I'd implement otherwise if it was up to me. I understand the concept of relying on the default WP schema, but it's not always the best choice if you have 50 meta fields that should be queried across 50,000 products or more. Easy Digital Downloads is also an incredible platform for digital goods as it doesn't include the added overhead for physical goods - shipping, taxes, product weight and what not.

When we scale existing large platforms or build large custom solutions, we often go outside of the WordPress ecosystem by adding external layers, incorporating Node or Ruby tools for different things (from image management through process execution monitoring, automated deployments and reporting), and create custom tables that are tailored to the client needs, outside of what the generic platform provides.

3. Lately I've been reading mostly sales and marketing literature, together with SaaS blogs and some enterprise resources from the competition, so it's not really WP related per se - but hey, ManageWP compiles everything that you need in the WP space :)

Reply
Ahmad Awais

Hey, Mario!

Nice to have you here. I'd like to ask a few questions about your WP Agency

— How did you get into SaaS business? For me it's been very hard to find clients who are interested in paying for SaaS WP (and stuff like Unit Tests, which is a story for another day)
— For someone building a SaaS product with WP based completely on JS. What would you recommend as far as the Hosting (AWS, Firebase, DO, etc), and JS frameworks (ReactJS vs Vue vs Angular 1/2) are concerned.

Looking forward!

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Ahmad,

Sure thing, answers below.

1. I did work for several SaaS-based businesses in different forms, from an employee years ago through consultant and then managing several other people as well. Using those contacts and portfolio made it possible to upsell services from my own consulting to utilizing the services of my firm.

Also, SaaS businesses often want a ton of work, thousands of billable hours (which is understandable given the complexity). Therefore a freelancer/consultant won't suffice and a full team is needed, including designers, marketing experts, network admins and so on, both due to the variety of skills needed, and the ability to ship that in 6-9 months instead of 5 years.

There aren't very many clients for SaaS, but those who need it are our top priority. We have a designated landing page on our site - devrix.com/wordpress/software-as-a-service/ - which ranks in the first results for most keywords that we aim for, and some clients appreciate the overview and our background.

2. Our latest SaaS which is just entering in beta over the coming few weeks is hosted on AWS (Elastic Beanstalk), utilizing different AWS services internally and within the network. React is the framework of choice for the backend, as we've almost completely removed the standard WP dashboard which was useless, complex and cumbersome, while extending components such as the list table and reusing some of the data management layers behind the scenes.

Frankly it's literally personal preference and also depends on the business needs, so I definitely wouldn't say that this is the "must have" stack. Three of our previous SaaS are hosted on pretty low-cost Digital Ocean droplets, one of them with about 20,000 subsites in a multisites, integrating with different social media networks and running custom analytics aggregating data from the subsites, so that's totally feasible as well (depending on the business needs and monetizaiton model).

Reply
Ahmad Awais

Thanks a lot for your answers. I am most def. not a lone wolf we are 10 people and along with two partners, there are about 30 of us. But not all of us have worked with other SaaS companies or have SaaS clients which after reading your answer looks like the reason why it's hard to get such clients.

Thanks for your insights about DO and AWS.

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Nemanja Aleksic

You're one of the people responsible for kickstarting the WordPress communities around the world. Can you share some more info about it?

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Mario Peshev

Whoa, I wouldn't take that much credit for sure :) But in a nutshell, here are some of the things that I do (and have done) in order to strengthen both our local, and various communities around the world:

1. I'm organizing the local WordPress meetup and was involved with WordCamp Sofia for a few years
2. I did co-organize WordCamp Europe 2014 and 2015
3. I'm currently a member of the WordCamp Deputy program - make.wordpress.org/community/2014/12/11/wordcamp-deputies-program-update/ (probably not the best link out there, but it would do). I'm mentoring WordCamp organizers and helping them manage all of the aspects of organizing the event - vetting speakers, discussing sponsorship packages, preparing the schedule, organizing relevant events (speakers' dinner, after parties), and so on.
4. I do help personally folks who contact me privately asking for advice on starting a local meetup or a WordCamp, and help them until they get a meeting or two up and running
5. I speak at WordCamps around the world, have co-organized about 10 Contributor days, and helped people and groups of people with their first steps to contributing to WordPress or organizing events
6. I advice several companies on hiring full-time contributors (or part-time) and give back to WordPress, by submitting free themes, plugins, help with support forums, translations, organize and sponsor events and such

That is in addition to my activities in most aspects of WP (organizing events, speaking, core patches, free plugins and themes, translations, theme reviews), writing about the community, business and ecosystem, and nurturing folks in my team.

I guess that's it - and yet, people usually get inspired just by attending a large WordCamp interacting with everyone there, hearing a few outstanding talks and meeting some WordPress influencers.

Reply
Andrey Tepeshanov

Hey Mario,

Great Q&A session so far, thanks for giving detailed answers so far. I have a few questions myself:

a. From what i see the majority of WordPress development companies are small businesses. How do you pitch enterprise sized companies and convince them that despite a smaller team you are able to deliver on complex projects?

b. Often larger businesses are wary of using open source platforms for their projects, what is your value proposition for using exclusively WordPress over alternative CMS platforms when approaching prospective clients?

c. Do you see your dedication to this platform as a benefit or limitation for future growth of your company?

Thanks,
Andrew

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Andrew!

a. Luckily WordPress is used by a number of large organizations around the world, and the 26% market share of the whole Internet industry has made it visible to everyone out there. While the vast majority of enterprise users avoid WordPress due to its popularity as a blogging platform or a CMS for small websites, large media portals and some innovative companies are using WordPress as a part of their infrastructure.

We have implemented WordPress solutions for automotive and airline companies, banks, telecoms, tourism agencies (with booking platforms and payments), real estate platforms, and tons of other projects for different industries. In addition to the Software as a Service applications that we've architected and deployed, WordPress has proven itself as a cost-effective and reliable platform for enterprises that are willing to give it a shot.

When pitching large enterprises, we showcase the benefits of WordPress as an application framework; its stability and reliability, listing several popular websites from their industry built on top of WordPress. Then we decompose the high-end requirements to essential components and match them to what WordPress offers out of the box, as a solid code base tested by tens of millions of websites that customers can certainly rely on. The fact that we are Core contributors testifies for our in-depth know-how and establishes us as an industry partner capable of delivering the solution requested by the enterprise.

Moreover, as a small team that specializes in WordPress, we spend our day-to-day on bending WordPress beyond its limits while not being distracted by every technological stack out there. Our diverse set of skills including creative, tech, marketing, business development allows for a complete suite of services that we offer on a monthly basis, custom tailored to our customer needs toward growing their digital presence.

b. Despite of the common belief, WordPress is an incredibly secure platform with a rock solid core reviewed regularly by core contributors and a team of security research engineers. Almost all WordPress breaches are due to insecure themes or plugins, cheap hosting environment or weak passwords, none of which is directly related to the main platform.

There is a security white paper available here: wordpress.org/about/security/ that focuses on the security benefits of incorporating WordPress in a corporate environment as per the security industry standards.

c. I see that as dedication as we spend our days exclusively on building and enhancing WordPress solutions. We stay up to date with the latest updates and coming feature enhancements in WordPress, leverage all of its APIs, and ensure that our solutions comply not only with the coding standards of WordPress, but the general web standards and requirements as well. This positions us as a leading WordPress vendor that could sort out anything behind the scenes, and with the 26% market share of the platform there's plenty of work waiting for us to chime in and start hacking. :)

Reply
Alba Choralieva

Hi Mario,
Thank you for the opportunity to take advantage from your experience. I have two questions regarding managing your time and efforts in your company.
1. Which strategy do you find more profitable - to refer your efforts finding new clients, or to motivate/develop relationship with your present clients with aim to make them order more?
2. How do you split your time between these three: comunication with your team, comunication with your clients and working on project? Which is the most time consuming, which is the most unprofitable and what will be the optimal balance (like comparing in percents, if it can be measured like that) according your experience?

Thank you in advance,
Alba

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Alba,

1. Always staying in touch with existing clients, offering new services, renewals, upsells and the like is more beneficial to both parties, more respectful and more valuable to the relationship. Additionally, existing clients are great sources of referrals and could unleash additional partnership opportunities.

Other than that relying just on referrals isn't sustainable in the long run, so in addition to an allocated time for keeping in touch with existing clients, the rest of the sales time should be spent on prospecting, lead generation and sending offers.

2. It depends on the urgency of each - whenever we have new team members, they require more time training and mentoring. At times when we are approaching several deadlines all of us need to focus on delivering, and hands-on is certainly a top priority. Client communication always take precedence when receiving an incoming email or message, and the rest is scheduled in our CRM.

Unfortunately there's no secret formula and in reality there's always disbalance, but we're always aiming for certain standards, even if we deviate from them.

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Andreas Nurbo

Hi Mario
Big fan of your musings on your devwp.eu blog although there is too little musings (but I reread some articles from time to time).
Got 3 questions.

1: If you could choose which changes would you like to see happen with WordPress core. Be as short or as long as you like. This is related to features etc not leadership. (We all want a roadmap and >=PHP 5.6 =).

2: Given that the WP ecosystem grows larger and larger (not only in number of sites) but actual people what changes would you like to see from the WP orgs and (national groups) so things improve community wise to prevent complete fragmentation. Comparing for example WordCamp US and WordCamp EU it seems EU is striving much more to inclusion and US seems very US centric. India seems to be growing as well and thats quite a lot of folks. Personally I think there might be more conflicts (cultural and economical) as larger communities are formed and bigger companies form that would want contribute to WP and WP core and decide directions.

3: Since you seem to work and travel a lot what do you do to keep your head on straight and not run into a wall?

Reply
Mario Peshev

Hey Andreas,

Thanks, DevWP has been on hold for a while due to other activities + blogging on devrix.com/articles , but I am planning to do some blogging every now and then if I pick a vertical that hasn't been covered by me or lots of folks already.

1. That's a tough one. Mainly I would like to see a separation of Core. You know, like an actual framework. Having the backbone and the most essential APIs, and that's it.

I like what happened to Links a few years ago - they got deprecated and a plugin supporting Links was created for those interested in preserving the feature. A lighter core means less generic operations across every single request. We've had clients asking for projects that don't need comments, or media, or posts, and definitely not in need of all of the settings or the tools menu. The more added overhead WordPress adds by default for more specific use cases, the more it becomes a "heavy burden" whereas people pick a framework, or Jekyll, or a hosted solution like Wix/Squarespace even for more serious stuff.

Ultimately that would be the best thing I can imagine. Something like BackPress - the core framework with essential APIs that could be used just when needed. Everything else could come on top as a library or a plugin. Modular back-end from DB layer from front-end and what not.

2. Yeah, that may possibly happen, but I'm not sure what's the best way forward. I guess it's like with politics in larger countries - you can't have hundreds of millions supporting a single candidate, it's not realistic. People come with different background and agenda and want different things. Whether something could be done, or not, I got no clue. Projects like BackPress may emerge, or forks of WordPress, or the constant dragging may allow other tools and platforms to take over different markets just as WordPress did with Joomla back in the days.

3. I don't travel that much to be honest, but I also took a year of downtime after WCEU last year, so I'll see what 2017 holds. Other than that I travel with a work plan - at least a day or two before AND after an event, an hour or two in the morning and in the evening catching up with everything, regardless of how long the day was. This was incredibly hard when organizing WordCamp Europe in Seville, I was abroad in a hotel room waking up at 5-6am and going to bed at 2am in order to sync work duties, and dealing with everything around the WordCamp in the meantime. But eventually that's not something that happens every weekend, so it's bearable.

Other than that I go to hookah places where I can both relax, and catch up with work, and possibly even meet friends or partners, this helps saving time and combining a few things at a time. I also plan my energy so that every two days or so I have at least 4 hours of uninterrupted time without meetings or after parties, so that I can recharge my batteries and get ready for the next adventure.

Reply
Puneet Sahalot

HI Mario,

Glad to see you here. I would like to ask a few questions about your experience with building your agency.
I started as a freelancer and now run an agency. We are a small team of 5.

1. It's been a difficult job to find the right developers and designers. Do you have any tips?
2. Do you prefer a remote team or a local team? Why?
3. What's the most interesting project that you did?

Reply
Mario Peshev

Thanks Puneet, and congrats on forming an agency!

1. It always is. Generally the higher the compensation, the higher the chance to find better talent (even though money expectations and skills are often completely unrelated). Training juniors is also important for smaller teams, it takes a ton of time, but nurturing the talent in-house brings certain benefits.

Good interviewing process and test assignments, as well as the onboarding process, are also essential. Make sure that your job description is solid, includes everything needed, and you can sift through candidates with some strategic questions. Prepare several tasks that could be assigned to all successful candidates and make sure it's easy to verify their work without spending too much time.

Those are the basics, but you can check out my video from WordCamp EU this year on managing remote teams - wordpress.tv/2016/07/03/mario-peshev-managing-remote-wordpress-team/

2. Local team has several benefits in general - faster communication, stronger bond between teammates and such. However, finding local talent is hard as you start growing. Many tech experts are introverts, or even with different social quirks, but they are brilliant at their work.

Remote organization lets you work remotely as well as your whole process relies on the cloud. You can find more people that live in different cities or countries. For example, we had 2 days off due to local holidays last week (and next week too) and 2/3 of our team was still working due to living elsewhere. That is fairly important for long-term clients who depend on maintenance and support.

Commute is also annoying, and I certainly don't want to force people to go at the office. Even with local folks in Sofia where we have 4 offices attendance isn't mandatory except for brainstorming meetings or specific projects, or just co-working together. Especially in the winter I'd rather not commute for 3 hours back and forth in -20C just to do the same thing that I'd do at home. I am also a Coffice advocate (working from coffee shops) and I still support the movement actively - devwp.eu/coffice-resort-book/

3. Oh, there are a few.

a) We are currently building a very challenging Software as a Service application on a scalable AWS stack with various 3rd party API integrations optimized for performance in several different layers. Due to the paid model we've built a framework dealing with site payments through different gateways, different subsite levels supporting limited themes and plugins depending on the payment plan, and limitations for free or lower end users with upsell capabilities. React-based admin dashboard, custom database tables for certain things, as well as a lot of other incredible technical innovations behind the scenes.

b) One of the projects we still work on is for a major automotive provider - it's a large multisite for different types of customers, handling various activities through a main platform that's pushing data to all subsites at the same time. It's multilingual, with multiple subsite types and various types of data, including limited resources like media available only in the master site of the application. That connects to an enterprise CRM through some VPNs with SOAP transfers and handles a few other bits on servers that comply with certain security standards.

We have also done work for banks and telecoms, and innovated analytics and context-based data for media clients, performed various migrations from third-party applications (including .NET and Python ones) to WordPress, bend Facebook with proxies which solve their iframe/JSON-P limitations, and so on.

I'm afraid that I'll forget about some of our best long-term accounts that we're working with now, so I'll stop here - we love doing challenging things since, as programmers, we do love performance and get far less competition from people suggesting to install a few plugins and get this over with.

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Puneet Sahalot

Hi Mario!

Thanks a ton for the detailed response.

I see a lot of pros of remote teams especially with holidays and devs being introverts. That's very true.
Thanks for sharing tips about hiring process. It's always a big challenge for newcomers and training devs in-house is good. All the members of my team were trained by me and it feels good to see them grow and learn new things. Now, they teach me new things :)

Thanks for sharing your interesting projects. It's great to see how WP can be scaled and used for various solutions.

Keep rocking. Best wishes from India! :)

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Ben

Hi Mario,

I'm working for an agency and we build mid to large size corporate Websites. For those websites WordPress was never considered due to security reasons and because WordPres has it's main focus on smaller websites or Blogs (at least people think this way).
But in my opinion WP is way underestimated. With a few plugins like Advanced Custom Fields and WP Multi Language you can do so much with WordPress and compared to other CMS the user experience in content editing is way better. WordPress also provides much more flexibility regarding templating/content creation than other CMS do.
With the rise of platforms like WIX or Squarespace competition in the low price segments is much higher than ever before.
So my questions regarding this are:
1. Where do you see the limits of WordPress to use it as an enterprise CMS (compared to other CMS like Drupal)?
2. Shouldn't WordPress set it's main focus away from Blogging/small website more into the direction of a CMS for mid to large size websites (due to competition)?

Another thing I love about WordPress is the Rest API. Again with the use of Advanced Custom Fields you can provide a much richer user experience and bigger flexibility compared to other Headless CMS like Contentful or Prismic. And the best of all: It's open source. But again, WP is not really regognized in the industry as a Headless CMS. So my third question is: Are there any reasons why WP can't be the Headless CMS like Contentful or Prismic wants to be and what is your opinion about the use of WP as a Headless CMS?

Many thanks

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Mario Peshev

Hey Ben,

I get the "security" talk - I've actually mentioned the white paper above answering Andrew's question since WordPress is fairly rock solid as compared to other platforms. The notorious perception comes from insecure themes and plugins, shared hosts running outdated WP versions, weak passwords and other things unrelated to WP alone.

1. WordPress can be and is used as an enterprise CMS by several large brands. Most big names are still resilient and avoid WordPress due to it's glory as a blogging platform or a CMS, but it's mature enough to support enterprise needs nowadays.

Mentioning ACF or WPML however is a bit tricky. While I like both plugins and used to work with the WPML team for a while, their target is a bit different and I can see performance challenges for high-scale websites running those (and other) plugins, without a lot of custom work or building specialized solutions solving those problems.

It's not that they won't solve a problem, but they aim the general purpose and add a ton of options that would satisfy the need of every small business out there. This leads to complicated architecture that can't always be scaled. I've mentioned custom database tables and other optimizations in my previous answers above.

2. Well, I think so too, but I don't think that this is the target of WordPress. WordPress relies on core values in its philosophy, one of them being "Design for the Majority" - wordpress.org/about/philosophy/ - and being able to solve the needs of everyone without breaking backwards compatibility and all is a major priority. That said, the less multi-purpose it is, the more limiting would it be (in its current form) for certain groups of users, and bloggers and SMB owners represent probably 90% or so of the user base.

3. I've just shared my thoughts in my comment to Andreas above re: modular WordPress. I'd love that - Drupal did that many, many years ago offering Core, Blog or CMS during install process (as I recall), and now they have Distributions that incorporate sets of modules, instead of bundling more into WordPress Core.

But I don't think that this would happen at all (or anytime soon), although we'll see.

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