Hello! It’s been a month since our last interview, which means that it’s time for a new one. John Fraskos, our guest, will share with us his insights gained in eight years of experience with web design and WordPress.
Speaking of our previous interview, take some time to read about a more artistic form of design – web illustration. We talked with João Santos about the process of creating artwork, the challenges and the goals of being an artist, and how to stay true to what you love. Learn more here.
When it comes to our today’s interviewee, let’s just say that he knows Themeisle pretty well. As a matter of fact, we’ve been working with John for a few years now. He’s the guy responsible for the design workflow of all the beautiful starter sites that you can find in our flagship theme, Neve.
Apart from collaborating with us, John Fraskos runs his own business where he creates theme style presets and templates for Elementor. He’s the author of Style Kits, an add-on that you might want to check out. Who knows, maybe you just found your new favorite WordPress tool.
He believes in leaving something good to humanity through his work, which he already does. When you’re helping others, you can say you reached success to a certain extent. He likes to explore the WordPress ecosystem and find new challenges that make both himself and the end-user happy.
John Fraskos Interview – “The hard part is finding the original creative concept that resonates with the brand”
When and how did you start working with WordPress? Is there an interesting story here?
I first got started with WordPress theme design rather than WordPress itself. Back in 2012, I started uploading theme designs on Themeforest (in .psd format). I eventually met my partner and remote-work buddy, Ram, and we got into theme development for WordPress. After 8 years we are still deep into WordPress.
What’s your technique for staying productive throughout the day?
I usually take quick 5-minute breaks, following the Pomodoro technique. Other than that I think that the biggest productivity booster is the last night’s sleep.
How do you define “being successful”?
Being able to live a healthy, balanced life, while having contributed something good for humanity, through your work.
What do you like to do when you’re not WordPress-ing?
Family time, jigsaw puzzles and nature. I have the great privilege of having a mountain forest outside of my door, so, long nature walks while listening to a podcast are definitely my thing.
What do you wish more people knew about WordPress?
The insane amount of work put by the contributor community worldwide and the diversity of the plugin and theme ecosystem.
Who’s doing things that are just cutting-edge and incredible in the WordPress space right now?
The core team that is working on Gutenberg does cutting-edge work in my opinion. This applies to all the contributors. I have had the privilege to contribute to the design team in the first Gutenberg version, and I saw how incredibly experts and open-minded these people are. They are tackling a multi-faceted problem, with huge responsibility so far.
Describe the WordPress community in one word.
What’s the most challenging thing about visual arts (web design, in this case)?
For me, it is to find the original creative concept that resonates with the brand and makes sense. I find the implementation to be the easiest part, to be honest. But to compose something that has original design integrity and is more than a collection of Styles and elements? That’s the hard (and nice) part.
What’s harder for an experienced designer? The creative process (thinking about the concept, the look, the approach) or the execution (once you have the idea in mind)?
I believe the two are interconnected. An experienced designer will execute the workflow based on a systemized approach that depends on the platform.
Processes in the implementation of design are different for each layout builder.
I think the challenge today is to find a universal design language and workflow, that is builder-agnostic, while allowing for creative expression within the platform’s limitations.
Is the WordPress market lucrative for designers (as in, the place to settle down)?
There is always a place for good design in the WordPress ecosystem, I believe. Themes, template kits, starter sites, landing pages. Even plugin UX and UI are areas that can benefit from an experienced designer. The thing is to find the niche that resonates most with you. For me, for example, it is the template design. I do not enjoy client projects as much as I enjoy doing niche research and creating a relevant template kit or starter site.
What’s your personal definition of a “quality WordPress theme”?
In themes, I appreciate the attention to the design basics and accessibility. Well-thought-out typography, brand-consistent color palette, and an underlying design system that allows for a modular, scalable design. Beautiful design by default, that just works.
Is building WordPress themes now more difficult than it was eight years ago?
It is a different context nowadays. We have moved from themes to theme frameworks, now shifting towards template kits and theme-less concepts. Gutenberg is getting better and better. With so many layout building options, the term Theme becomes abstract. But I would agree that there are more challenges involved nowadays.
Slowly, WordPress is turning into a site builder. How will this change affect designers, business-wise?
I believe that designers will still be needed to define and maintain a consistent visual language across the site. It might be getting easier for someone to use a template kit and wrap up some pages, but the overall design maintenance and scalability is the real issue here. A design expert’s viewpoint is always needed and I do not believe that we put the design responsibility on the shoulders of the business/site owner.
Do you think the block editor will be a real threat to page builders like Elementor or Beaver Builder?
I hope it does, this would mean that it will reach the UX standards of these builders. The usability of Elementor, for example, is amazing; for now, I would not even compare it to the block editor, we still have to wait for this to happen. But I think it is great to have all these options and diverse approaches in WordPress design.
That sums up our John Fraskos interview. If you enjoyed it and want to learn more, please leave your comments in the section below. Also, if you have any ideas for who we should talk to next, feel free to share your suggestions with us!