Interview with Michael Makijenko from Visual Composer

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when you couldn’t just create a beautiful website in minutes with the help of a drag-and-drop builder like Visual Composer. Now they’re bigger than ever and even WordPress itself is adopting quite a bit from the builders. 

In this interview, we had the chance to talk to Michael, the CEO, and founder of Visual Composer. He created WPBakery Page Builder, one of the most popular and one of the very first WordPress page builders. We talked about the growth of Visual Composer, WordPress and even the typical day of a CEO.

We’re here with Michael, the CEO, and founder of Visual Composer. You’re one of the first people to create a page builder for WordPress and that WPBakery.

How would you compare the customer demands before, when you created the page builder, and now?

I would say that the customer demands have changed a lot actually. Back then when we introduced the page builder to the market, users didn’t know that they needed a page builder. They didn’t know that they can take a page builder and do this stuff on their own. But nowadays they’re really demanding to have a page builder or more like a website builder to take their duties and offload it to the completely next level, to create headers, footers, and complete websites. Or even full-blown WordPress templates.

As we know those are some of the features from your new product – Visual Composer Website Builder. Why did you decide to create a whole new product and not concentrate that much on WPBakery?

I think that’s a good question. A bit though but when we were deciding which road to take we decided to go with the new product mostly because of the technical constraints that page builder has. The user base is really big and in order to introduce new technology we needed to focus on backward compatibility but instead of that we decided to create a new product and spent our time introducing new cool stuff instead of just tinkering with the backward compatibility and supporting those transitions from version to version.

What would you say are the biggest differences between the two products from the user perspective?

There are miles away from each other. The website builder is based on the react JS technology. It’s not using shortcodes anymore. It’s basically setting the new benchmark on the market. I would say it’s mainly the performance and not using the shortcodes. The page builder is still using shortcodes because it was a native way for WordPress back then. I think that WordPress is also moving away from shortcodes and using more structured data.

Still, a lot of web developers think that builders are useless and not for professionals. What would you say about that?

It depends as always. If you consider yourself a code guru or something, of course, you may go with the manual process. But then you need to think of time constraints that you have, also on the other side – the budget. So if you’re in need to bootstrap your project really fast then, of course, the page builder is the way to go. But if you’re looking for a completely custom solution for enterprise-grade projects, then probably coding everything from scratch is that the way to go. So it all depends on your needs.

There’s a topic that we can’t skip and it’s Gutenberg. What do you think about the path that WordPress has taken at the moment?

It’s been a bit rough in my opinion. But it is a really long-awaited feature for WordPress because TinyMCE looks a bit outdated to my taste. Actually, this is the main reason why products like the page builder and the website builder appeared on the market. That the work is going that way is kind of logical step to me. I think that end users actually will benefit from it and it will add some more competition to us and other products. And the end user will just gain benefits from it.

Now let’s move on to the WordPress community. You haven’t been very active from the beginning. And you have been visiting WordCamps only for the last two year. Why is that? What changed?

In the beginning, I think that the main thing was that we simply didn’t have a big team so we spent all of our time focusing on the development of new features. But then we visited the first WordCamp here in the Baltics. I think it was in Stockholm. The main push was that it is so close to our home city. And then we got a taste of the WordPress community. Then we couldn’t resist to go to WordCamp Europe and then to the States and then again to Europe and so on. It’s definitely the community that we’re now passionate about.

As the CEO of one of the most popular WordPress plugins, what does a typical day of Michael look like?

It is a really typical day. I wake up early morning and discuss my agenda with my cat. And then go over to my office and work with the great team on the next big thing like the website builder.

Your product makes it really easy for people to create their websites. So how many websites have you actually created?

I’ve never counted actually but I would say it’s close to something in the bracket from 50 to 100 websites I think. But again it was so easy to create a website with the page builder so 10,15 minutes and “bam”, you’ve got a website.

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