David Braun: Sincerely About 15 Years of Running a Web Design Business

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Hello everybody! We are going to have a friendly talk with David Braun, TemplateMonster’s CEO and co-founder. This interview will be really interesting and inspiring for those who are only starting their web design business or searching for the ways to grow it.

Hi, David, thanks for coming. We have a number of questions for you. You have a tight schedule, which is common for a successful entrepreneur, so let’s begin straight away. Could you introduce your company, TemplateMonster.com, to our readers?

David Braun Interview - Picture of David Braun

Sure, TemplateMonster is my brain child, web development plays an important part in my life, so I am always ready to talk about it.
 
The official website of TemplateMonster has gone from beta to launch on May 24, 2002. I will always remember this date as it was a great beginning for me;). This was a huge undertaking, and we all get the thing off the ground thanks to amazing people in our staff.
 
We have been in business for over a decade, and from the very start TemplateMonster has reconsidered how a website gets done through a professional web template. Yes, you can build a site on your own. But we know how to create a website design which is powerful enough to get you started, and we can always be within your budget, which is also essential.
 
We deliver you an affordable template, optimized for SEO and speed performance, and it offers you a vantage of controlling the content, look and functionality of your website. In other words, you can edit most of it on your own.
 
TemplateMonster team is now an awesome core group of experienced geeks using everything they have learned to help you build amazing websites the right way.
 
TemplateMonster is really serious about good website design. You can build a site or web project with our template in a few hours while it would have taken you months to craft your own custom design.
 
David Braun Interview - Template Monster Screenshot
 
The template is now the chief commodity of almost any business operating online. You can think of our product as the easiest way to build a site. You just do more with less efforts, money, and time investments.
 
We, at TemplateMonster, understand that our customers need an excellent product. Believing that a professional web template is still the best option for website creation, TemplateMonster team is always challenged to work each website template to the max.

Why buying a premium template is better instead of choosing a free one?

David Braun Interview - Picture of David Braun

Most of the time it’s very much worth buying a premium theme. The benefits of support, alone, can make it worth the price. And when you figure out that the most expensive themes out there are under $100, it’s a tiny investment.
 
Premium themes have several important benefits over free themes. Most important benefit is the number of features offered by premium themes that are simply not available in free versions. Premium themes come with a much better and cleaner code and offer better features with excellent support. The most important aspect of a Premium theme is the documentation that details all the features and options of the theme. Most themes also come with premium plugins. Frequent updates help to keep your theme and plugins that came with it updated. You can request for new features on upcoming updates.
 
I think the main drawback of free templates is that support is not included into their package. Support that comes with a premium template saves you from so many headaches. If you have questions about choosing, purchasing or editing our templates, you can always put them to our Live Support Chat or phone operators. This service is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Also you can get basic training on installation and customization stuff in our Online Help Center, where we defined the most popular questions of our visitors and clients, collected tutorials and quick start guides, gave product descriptions and updates. If you still do not see a solution to your problem, you can submit a ticket and our tech support expert will help you.
 
To me, buying a premium theme is an invaluable investment. If your website does not look professional, the rest will not be able to make you succeed however.

Has your initial vision for TemplateMonster changed since its launching?

David Braun Interview - Template Monster Logos

Surely, our viewpoints change as we become more mature. The same thing happened to me.
 
TemplateMonster began with a simple idea: everyone should be able to have a professional looking website with ease. Thus to give you relief, we make it doable for any particular person, a newbie or web savvy individual, to build and customize new website working with a template. All you have to do is devote just few hours to this and you’ll get a superb site.
 
In 2016, our team was focused on developing flagship templates. They are much more versatile compared to the regular products. Let me clarify the things with using flagships on the example of WordPress themes. We called our latest flagship Monstroid 2. It’s not a simple template, it’s an ultimate tool to build an online magazine, business site, personal portfolio, web store, whatever. It’s unbelievable, but using a single template, you can build a business site, add blog and store functionalities to it. Monstroid2 is a one-stop-shop for all the needs you may have.
 

 
Firstly, we created a flagship for WordPress because of the CMS popularity. But then we decided to develop flagships for all popular engines: Joomla, OpenCart, PrestaShop, etc.
 
We even took care of the guys who don’t use any CMS at all. You can find new flagships among HTML5 templates. After all, it’s one of our goals to meet the needs of everyone who comes to TemplateMonster marketplace.

Mistakes are common in every aspect of our lives, including business. Was there any big mistake you’ve made in your career that you learned something from, that you can talk about?

He is lifeless that is faultless:).
 
Of course things didn’t go smoothly for me and TemplateMonster all this time. We survived the hard streak when something went wrong with our products. We got negative testimonials, and some of them were true. Most of them referred to our outdated templates, that’s why we just removed them from our marketplace. But negative feedback can also be useful. We analyzed it and took the right turn, understood what our customers really need, and gave it to them.

You have a 15-years experience of managing a web design company from its very foundation – how did you market when you started?

The answer is obvious, we tried to capture the attention of a consumer who has demand for the product. Company goals played a big part in this also. Our goal was to grow the business and not to sell it then. We wanted to establish a long-term profit generating company. Our budget was limited, so the scenario was: the likely wins are more grassroots oriented. Lots of networking, media relations, social media, content generation, partnerships, viral content, buzz building, etc…
 
Of course with plenty of available budget, you can do all of the above but support those efforts with strong advertising campaigns as well.

And what about now?

Now, there are different ways of going about this, with each online strategy aiming for specific results. The top online marketing strategies include but are not limited to: adding a blog to your site can drive up a property’s SEO, making you one of the top searches and putting you ahead of the competition; using of common social media tools may also help in learning which platforms your target audience is on; the service GoogleMyBusiness is free and can accomplish a variety of things for your online presence, including providing a map of your offices locations and listing out basic information, like your phone number, without giving up the detailed information; E-mail serves as a excellent tool for providing your database of customers with updates on the templates, special actions, and other information. Remember that returning customers are often more profitable than new ones.
 
Apart from the well-known marketing strategies we run educational projects like TemplateMonster Playlist on YouTube, Startup Hub, Web Studios Certification program, and others.
 

 
What’s more, we give our customers an opportunity to become our partners and earn money promoting our products with our Affiliate Program, Social Stock Contest, Web Studios Catalogue, etc.
 

Which social media channels would be the best choice for people from your niche to use – from your own experience?

Today Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn are the first tools for people all over the world to connect each other and share the content both with personal and business goals. As for Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter – they also may do a good job when posting marketing messages, especially of visual content. I want to mention Snapchat, that is increasingly being used for business purposes nowadays either.
 
This list can be continued, but what’s utterly important in social media marketing is posting there regularly.

What’s the next big thing in web design by your opinion?

First of all, I must note Conversational interfaces, namely chatbots and conversational interfaces. They really took off in 2016.
 
Secondly, Machine learning. I’m sure we’ll see the rise of machine learning in everyday apps.
 
Next to be listed is Emotionally intelligent design. Emotional design has come to mean humanizing technology with cute animal mascots and eternally chipper chatbots. My hope is to see more design that respects human emotion rather than exploits it in the coming year.
 
Virtual reality finally went mainstream in 2016 and can now be experienced in the browser. I am waiting to see how virtual reality’s popularity grows and how designers adapt to it.
 
One more interesting and important thing to be developed in 2017 is Location and context awareness. One of the things that sets mobile devices apart is the way they travel with users — and their ability to understand the location and context around them. Those capabilities are increasingly exposed to websites, and we believe that a huge area of coming innovation will be in making websites more responsive to the environments around them.

What can we expect from TemplateMonster in future?

Innovation is what drives business, so that is where our approach to web design and development starts. To achieve even better quality of our website templates, we turn to innovative technologies, do research to foster best practices, participate and engage in trend analysis, have discussions about the future of web technologies, and balance these initiatives with customer needs.
 
TemplateMonster has bold plans for the future, so wait for more new projects, more innovations and creativity, revolutionary products, and a flurry of activity from us.

Photos ©: Template Monster

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