Welcome to ManageWP.org

Register to share, discuss and vote for the best WordPress stories every day, find new ideas and inspiration for your business and network with other members of the WordPress community. Join the #1 WordPress news community!

×

We are Tina Todorovic and Dejan Markovic, Co-Founders of Social Web Suite and HYPEStudio. Ask Me Anything X 2!

May. 24, 2017

Since we are closing the season 4 of Ask Me Anything series and as we are partners in business and life, it just made sense to us to give all of you something extra, so we will both be here today answering your questions. Our story with WordPress goes like this:

Dejan has been following WordPress from its early beginnings, but he has started getting more involved with the WordPress development in 2010. The first WordCamp he attended was in Toronto in 2013 where Dejan fell in love with the WordPress community. Deciding then to become more active and give back, Dejan became a co-organizer of WordCamp Toronto 2014, 2015 and a lead organizer in 2016, and he has been helping to organize WordPress Toronto meetups ever since.

Dejan wrote a book "WordPress Responsive Theme Design" www.packtpub.com/web-development/wordpress-responsive-theme-design in 2015., where he explains how to properly create a responsive WordPress theme. He was also a technical reviewer for the book "Learning Yeoman" www.packtpub.com/web-development/learning-yeoman in 2014.

Because of Dejan's love for WordPress, he persuaded Tina to go with him to WordCamp Montreal in 2014 where Tina quickly discovered why everyone keeps talking how awesome and welcoming WordPress community is. Meeting there some serious WordPressers like Carl Alexander (managewp.org/members/3698/carl-alexander), Kathryn Presner, Elida Arrizza and Chris Bavota, Tina started sharing Dejan's passion for WordPress and its community and has been involved ever since. Besides volunteering and co-organizing Toronto WordPress meetups and WordCamps (2014, 2015 and 2016), Tina enjoys meeting new fellow WordPressers and spreading the word about WordPress.

As they both share an entrepreneurial spirit they've founded several WordPress-focused businesses that provided WordPress development services, plugins, and the latest one being a SaaS startup.

While Dejan is involved in the technical aspects of their businesses, Tina does everything except development. However, they both have a strong interest in marketing and growth hacking, so they never miss Chris Lema's (managewp.org/members/483/chris-lema) talks at WordCamps and they enjoy reading the latest books and listening to several podcasts about marketing and growth hacking.

Dejan is a drummer and likes electronic music from ambient to drum and bass and psychedelic trance! Tina used to play Classical music on her piano and besides occasional trip to rock, pop and soul, that is the music she enjoys the most.

Extra points to anyone who knows of a chocolate that Tina hasn't tried and to anyone who set up a jamming session with Dejan:-).

We love everything WordPress & we have our laptops, chocolate, and water ready!

Ask Me Anything X 2!

Comment
30 votes   Flag
Atanasovski Petar

Hey friends, great to have you here :) A couple of questions from my side:
- How do you envision WordPress three years from now?
- If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing that you would change immidiately in WordPress?
- WordPress & the community influenced your lives a lot, can you share with others what are the secret ingredients of that change?
- Dejan, what is the electronic drum set that you suggest for beginners?
- Tina, what is your favorite chocolate?
- Do we see each other in Paris? When can we expect you in Belgrade? :)

Reply
Tina Todorovic

Hi Petar,

Thanks for stopping by.

1. It is really hard to envision the future of WordPress, so I can only say what I would hope the future will bring. I would like to see everyone from the WordPress community stepping up and explaining that WordPress is not just for blogging and that can scale. I would also like to see better (stricter) rules for submitting a plugin to repo and more plugins and themes using API calls.

2. From what I've already mentioned, perhaps the stricter rules for plugin submissions and more openness to submitting WordPress themes to repo are the things I would like to see implemented soon.

3. I can't mention here all the awesome WP peeps we've met during our journey and who has influenced our lives a lot (as we don't have enough time nor space for it:-)) but I just want to say that we've made some wonderful long lasting friendships along the way that we cherish a lot (for example, with you:-)). I believe the secret ingredients for a change are just to be yourself, be open to embracing new things, be willing to learn, and most importantly, don't be a jerk.

4. Now I know we will stay here forever as you've opened Dejan's favorite subject:-).

5. My favorite chocolate is (not-so-well -known) Ragusa chocolate (https://ragusa.swiss/ch/en/our-chocolates/), the Swiss chocolate named after the city of Dubrovnik. Although, I am known not to refuse a chocolate ever:-).

6. Unfortunately, we are not coming to Paris. It is simply not in the cards for us this year. Regarding Belgrade, not sure yet, but I promise we will let you know as soon as we buy the plane tickets.

Hope this answers your questions, as I have to run and answer other questions, too.

Cheers,

Tina

Reply
Dejan Markovic

Hi Petar,
- How do you envision WordPress three years from now?
I think it's going to rock maybe more in the way of JS and API's

- If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing that you would change immediately in WordPress?
1. Open wordpress.com to plugins and themes (not only to selected people).
2. Open wordpress.com or something related as a PRO marketplace it can be another source of income to developers, agencies and Automattic too! :)
3. PAID REVEWS for plugins and themes and WordPress.org as an option, meaning free can still be option there but paid can be for developers and companies who don't want to wait 3 months for approval (plugin approval are faster though but there are only a few people who are doing that and they are swamped with work). In order to make WordPress more PRO we can't have only volunteers that will donate their time. We have to commercialize those services same as all other marketplaces.

- WordPress & the community influenced your lives a lot, can you share with others what are the secret ingredients of that change?
I used to be .NET developer and I was going to those meetups and conferences which were boring and people were there just to grab something and leave. Then I came to WordCamp Toronto in 2013 and it was totally opposite. Everybody was sharing everything, even how to become successful and all that kind od stuff and I said to myself this is a community for me (where I feel at home). I think Tina has the same opinion :)

- Dejan, what is the electronic drum set that you suggest for beginners?
Everything depends on the budget. I recommend Yamaha's for beginners and intermediate players and Roland more to Pro peoples :).
Budget kits from Alesis are OK too for the start :).

Reply
Joe

Hey Guys! Love to see you doing an AMA here! What has been the biggest challenge in building what's essentially a social media platform on top of WordPress?

Also - Dejan I didn't know you played the drums - we'll have to set up a dueling drums session at WCUS ;-)

Reply
Dejan Markovic

Hi Joe,
We had and still have a lot of challenges. I think the biggest challenge was to assemble a good team and that took us some time as we are really picky :). We are looking for the persons that are going to fit into our company's culture on the side of beeing good in what they do. We now have an amazing team that we love so much ... we are now a Social Web Suite family :).

Dueling drum sessions sound awesome and if you maybe come to WordCamp Toronto this year we can organize something here too :).

BTW peoples, Joe Casabona has an amazing podcast howibuilt.it/ it's a must-listen! :)

Reply
Joe

Aww shucks - thanks for the answer and the plug! and ohh WC Toronto! I'm going to see if I can attend that one now :-)

Reply
Tina Todorovic

Hey Joe, thanks for the great question!

Dejan beat me to it, so I will not repeat his answer (which was actually the biggest challenge, BTW), but I would rather share some other challenges we faced.

As you already know (and we are not different) with any business you face the same challenges constantly: Will it be profitable? How to better position my business on the market? Should I bootstrap my idea or ask for a funding immediately? Where are my customers?

On top of all those challenges add WordPress specific challenges to the mix (security, over bloating plugins and themes, site speed, too many plugins installed, plugin conflicts, etc) and you have a pretty good idea about the challenges we've tried to overcome while building Social Web Suite.

We are still gathering the feedback from our users, but I believe we've succeeded in overcoming some (if not all) of the WordPress biggest challenges by:

1. Developing a dashboard separate from a WordPress site (where we are keeping all the data so it will not affect a WP site's speed),
2. Connecting the WordPress site with Social Web Suite with the lightweight plugin, as users are accustomed using plugins in order to increase the functionality of WP. The plugin will not affect site's speed and will not come into a conflict with any plugin or a theme (as it is a really lightweight plugin and the code has been checked & approved by some serious developers, for example, Frankie Jarrett and Jason Cosper, to name just a few).
3. We are still keeping some of the individual settings in the WordPress dashboard (based on the feedback that is what users love).
4. Keeping all the private data safe and secure, as we don't ask for a WordPress login information and the payment is via Stripe, so we don't store any secure information on our dashboard.

I guess this answers your question, so I am running to answering the next one.

P.S. A jamming session is a definite must at WCUS 2017!

Reply
Joe

Thanks for the great answer!

Reply
Tina Todorovic

Thanks Joe!

Reply
Nikola Kirincic

Hey guys,

It is always cool to see a couple that is together bound in work and in life :)

I have few questions:

- As an organizers of WordCamp Toronto, what is your main challenge during planning and realisation of such big event?
- How much is WordPress a part of your life during one day session?
- Since You both play instruments, do You play along together occasionally? :D

Thanks :)
Nikola

Reply
Tina Todorovic

Hey Nikola,

Thanks for stopping by.

1. Regarding the WordCamp Toronto and being involved in organizing it in the past, the great thing about it is that we always had an amazing group of people helping out, so no task was too big or impossible to handle. I guess that could apply for any WordCamp and for me that is the most crucial part of organizing any conference or an event. I am sure Andy can also add his 2 cents here as he has been involved in WCTO for way longer than we were.

2. We live, breathe and eat WordPress :-) (and some chocolates occasionally).

3. We haven't played together yet for various reasons. Maybe we can organize some jamming sessions when we come to Belgrade? I've played drums, though and unfortunately, I suck at it (although Dejan was really supportive and told me that I was good which made me realize that honesty is not the best policy all the time:-)).

Thanks for the questions.

Tina

Reply
Andy McIlwain

Hi you two! Good to see you doing an AMA on here. :)

What's the experience been like switching from client services to product development? Any advice for others considering the same pivot?

And with Social Web Suite, what have some of your biggest learnings been?

Reply
Tina Todorovic

Hey Andy,

Great to see you here!

As we've been doing product development and client services at the same time for so long, for us it was just a question of should we switch to products or clients only, or should we keep going and do both. At the time we have been on this crossroad the unforeseen circumstances with Dejan's health made us choose and it was a no-brainer what to choose as we've started with a few products already. On top of that, we were dealing with one especially difficult client, so that made our choice even clearer.

My advice for others considering switching to either product development or client services is to make that choice as soon as possible as life will make it for you and then it will be too late. We are all scared to jump, but I always support anyone who is willing to take a risk and follow their dreams. Also, learn from others, ask questions and don't repeat the same mistakes others before you did. If anyone here has any questions regarding this we are always willing to help, so you can just shoot us an email to hello@socialwebsuite.com & we will be happy to help you.

With Social Web Suite, there is a constant learning as there are changes affecting social media world all the time. As I've said, we are still gathering feedbacks from our users, and while most of the feedback has been positive and features asked to be implemented are the ones we are currently adding, there are still some users surprising us with asking for the features and integrations that we never heard of. The great thing about this is that both Dejan and I love constant learning and overcoming challenges so we are really happy with what we are doing and wouldn't change a thing.

I guess I still have to learn to keep my answers short:-).

I hope to see you soon Andy and thanks for the great questions!

Tina

Reply
Dejan Markovic

Hi Andy,
Thanks for stopping by :)

For us, the experience was as I always saw myself as a products person rather than the agency person. I think it always depends on personality... we know a lot of folks that are having agencies and they are really successful with that but for us the products are" way to go" :)
Advice for people considering pivot is: if you feel that's the way to go Go For It! :)

Hehe, we had a lot of learnings and we are still learning every day :). One of the interesting things for all of us was moving the code from our servers to Amazon cloud. Although our guys have admin and Amazon admin experience (on the side of the development) it took us a couple of weeks get the things straight :).

Reply
Adam W. Warner

Hi Tina and Dejan :)

1. What has been the biggest challenge building a SaaS service with Social Web Suite?

2. I know how hard you both work, and making sure to disconnect from technology is a struggle for many of us in this space. How do you do it?

3. If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?

Reply
Tina Todorovic

Hey friend:-),

1. We've already mentioned some of the challenges and if I had to choose just one I would say finding the right people that share your ideas and visions will be the biggest one. We are so blessed to have gathered a great team and that we all have fun working together, and I can not thank them enough for putting up with my crazy ideas every day:-).

2. Well, it is a timely question I say;-). We've just come back from spending a long weekend in the cottage with no internet and with very bad phone reception. It was sort of preparation for what to expect at Camp Press and I still can't believe that I've agreed to go to Oklahoma:-). It will be interesting, that is the only things I will say here! All joking aside, as I am the one providing customer support I didn't like that I couldn't help out my users until we came back home and I still don't feel comfortable letting somebody else do it when I am not available. So, cache 22 is how to disconnect and be available at the same time? Well, I still haven't quite figured it yet, but I am working on it:-).

3. Chocolate (duh), blanket (as I am always cold) & the third one really depends if I will share that island with other people or will I be alone there? If there will be other people we can organize so everyone can bring at least one useful thing for all of us to share, for example, knife or a fishing rod. If I will be all alone on the island, the third thing I would bring will be a box of matches (the biggest box you can buy) so I can have the fire to protect me from the wild animals and to cook my meals and boil water.

Hope you like my answers!

Thanks for the questions, they were great!

Tina

Reply
Dejan Markovic

Hi Adam,

1. What has been the biggest challenge building a SaaS service with Social Web Suite?
As Tina said on of the biggest challenges was to assemble the team. Our team is mostly distributed and it works very well for us! :)

2. During the summer when not attending local WordCamp's (we are attending a lot of them) we are going to cottages with our friends.
There we are usually playing board games and just have fun. Since Social Web Suite is SaaS now we have to make sure that we or some other people in the team are available 24/7 and to be honest it's not as bad as it sounds :).

3. If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
I would bring some food, drinks and of course tomatoes :)

Reply
Tina Todorovic

I like how you think:-). I guess that is a secret to long lasting partnership:-)

Reply
Sandra Knežević

Hey Guys!

How to choose the best WordPress plugins for your project?

Thanks!

Reply
Mladen Maxic

Hi Tina and Dejan,

It's nice to see you here :)

I have one question for Tina and one for Dejan.

Since I like Adam's question about three things for an island, I will ask you, Tina, if you must install only three plugins for WP what will you install?

Dejan, as I know that you are a big fan of Growth Hacking, I will ask you can you tell me what is your favorite Growth Hacking literature?

Thanks in advance!

Reply
Dejan Markovic

Hi Mladen thanks for stopping by:

My favorite books are:
1. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising
2. Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth
and
3. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Cheers!





Reply
Tina Todorovic

Hey Mladen,

Great to see you here, too!

Again it all depends on what kind of a WP site are we talking about? There is a huge difference in the requirements for an enterprise site versus a mom and pop shop site.

If I must choose just 3 plugins to install I would choose some good security plugin (although with some hosting companies the security plugin comes already installed, so I am not sure if that would mean that I have one extra plugin to choose from:-)), Social Web Suite, of course, and depending if I have plenty of sites to maintain or not, ManageWP or Akismet.

WOW, this was harder than I thought:-). Really great question!

Reply
Tina Todorovic

Hey Sandra,

Thanks for stopping by.

It actually all depends on the product requirements, but there are some great plugins that every WordPress site should have.
For example Akismet (to prevent spam), Yoast (for SEO), Social Web Suite:-) (for social media scheduling, publishing, and analytics), Foo Galery (for images), some good security plugin like Sucuri, SiteLock or WordFence, some good email captioning plugin, for example, OptinMonster and of course ManageWP for managing all your WordPress sites in one place.

If you need a plugin for a specific feature (function) I would suggest asking around which are the good ones (especially posting on a bunch of WordPress groups on Facebook), checking if that plugin is available on the WordPress.org repo and checking the reviews and downloads (which will not really count for the new plugins that might be awesome, too, though).

There are also a lot of other good plugins that I haven't mentioned here that are great for a specific project. If you need help with choosing one feel free to send me an email to tina@socialwebsuite.com with what exactly you need for your project and I will be happy to recommend you a few choices that will be a good fit for you.

Hope this answers your question.

Tina

Reply