Daniel Davis is the co-founder of Nextendweb and the designer behind their plugins, which power over 600,000 websites all over the world.
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Q1: What is your background, & how did you first get involved with WordPress?
Firstly, greetings from Hungary to all Kinsta readers!
Summing it up, 8 years ago I graduated in software engineering and around 2008 I imagined myself as a frontend developer. But while I was at the university, I fell in love with design.
Our company’s journey began in the first semester when I met Roland who is the other co-founder of Nextendweb. He is an absolute genius in coding, a real full stack developer unicorn. We instantly knew that we should create something awesome together.
My first encounter with WordPress was around 2009 when I made a few simple websites for local businesses during the summer holiday. Three years later we established our company and started to develop Joomla extensions and a little bit later WordPress plugins too. Today Nextendweb turns 7 years old and undoubtedly WordPress is our main platform for now. Honestly, at that time I couldn’t imagine the success, fear, gratitude, and doubt that I experience on this ride.
Q2: What should readers know about all the stuff you’re doing in WordPress these days?
We’re still a small company with 6 people but our vision is still the same from the beginning: delivering outstanding software with world-class support. In our team, I’m the designer but I’m responsible for our marketing, content strategy and I handle the company’s administrative tasks too. This diversity makes my days extraordinary and probably this is the reason why I love my job.
It’s really hard to answer what I do day by day, mostly it’s product and UI design. In short: I make things look and work cool at Nextend. We have two plugins that the readers may know:
Our flagship product is Smart Slider 3 which is more like a visual builder tool than a simple slider plugin. You can create beautiful sliders, blocks, carousels and even pages. The editor lets you design with simple drag and drop and manipulate your designs visually.
We have a Slider Library with more than 100 pre-designed templates for everything from product carousels and hero blocks to parallax pages and layer sliders. I recommend that you check out the templates so you can get a feel for what you can build with it.
In addition, Smart Slider 3 has a 4.9-star rating at WordPress.org from over 600 reviews and more than 400,000 active installs. Its growth outpaces all the other free slider plugins together in the official plugin repository.
Our latest product, Nextend Social Login is a really simple and lightweight plugin to allow your users to log in through their favorite social accounts. It’s easy to set up and looks good out of the box on your login page. It takes no time at all to add your site and once it’s up and running, your users will immediately enjoy the benefits. Soon our login plugin will reach the 200,000 active installs and we’re really satisfied with this result.
Q3: What challenges did you face in getting to where you are now professionally?
We started our business in a small apartment with Roland. During the morning we handled the support requests and in the afternoon we tried to implement new features and bugfixes. We didn’t sleep too much at that time. It was a really hard but fun part of my life. 7 years later we are facing totally different challenges like project management, marketing, or hiring the right people in the team. I really enjoy these new challenges, because it moves me out of my comfort zone.
Q4: Has anything surprised you while coming up in the WordPress world?
Yes, three things. Firstly the development of the CMS. The core developers come up with great features and updates year after year, which is really amazing. Secondly, the huge amount of possibilities in themes, plugins, and services. WordPress has undoubtedly the biggest third-party developer community and this plays a huge role in WordPress’ current state. Last but not least the user experience for beginners is unique. The whole website editing process is far the easiest for the end clients.
Q5: What does the future look like for you in the WordPress world?
The WordPress industry is much more complicated now than it was ever before. Plenty of people make their living from WordPress in different ways. Today a good product is not enough for success. You have to be really good at support, marketing, communication, and quality content release.
Whether it’s releasing new plugin, updating existing ones, or releasing a new video, we always look for ways to make it better. Beyond that, we’re cooking up something big for Smart Slider 3. I mean, really big and I can’t wait to share it.
Q6: What do you look for in a WordPress host?
For me, the most important is the page speed and the uptime of the server. In addition, I look for a secure, well-maintained server with good customer support. Also I really like to monitor the performance of our site and I want to know if anything goes wrong.
Q7: What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from your laptop?
After I’ve finished my daily work, I go to the gym to do some workout. If my mind is full of ideas and tasks there isn’t anything better than lifting weights. Sci-fi books and series are my absolute favorites if I have a little time I try to read or watch something from my list. But mostly I play video games if I really want to switch off on weekdays. During the weekend I spend all my time with my wife and we try to see our friends, family or do some outdoor activities.
Q8: Whom should we interview next & why?
I think you should interview Nick Roach, the founder of Elegant Themes. There is a big buzz around Divi for years, probably your visitors would find interesting to read Nick’s answers. In my opinion, their communication and design is really outstanding in the world of WordPress.