We are exceedingly thankful for another incredible year at Themeco! Let's take a quick trip down memory lane, hear from a few of our leaders, and most importantly get a sneak peek of what is to come in 2019.
First off, you may have noticed we've been fairly quiet on the blog front. In fact, that last post we published was our Year in Review at the end of last year!
This is because in 2017 we launched a community site, Apex, that is where all product news has been posted including new releases, status reports, and more. And while Apex has been great for customers, we realized that having a more public facing solution would be better for everyone long term.
So as part of our broader site wide redesign we'll be consolidating all comms into one place allowing both current and prospective customers the opportunity to keep up with the many goings on at Themeco.
Incidentally, this will be our final post to this old blog as we prepare for the new site in the first quarter (if you're looking for product news in the meantime, be sure to checkout that link above). The new Themeco site is something we are most excited about and will be a wonderful milestone for both Themeco and our community!
Highlights of 2018
On the product front, we had 5 major release cycles that introduced a powerful lineup of new features like:
- Inline Editing
- Dark Mode
- Role Manager
- Global Blocks
- And more…
In addition, we pushed out a whopping 93 Extension updates! Extensions are one of the truly unique features to X and Pro in that customers can enjoy both usage and support of nearly 3 dozen premium plugins. We're excited to grow that library in 2019 and beyond.
On the support front, we were privileged to have nearly 100,000 interactions with our customers in the form of forum posts and email tickets. In addition, we introduced an internal scoring system to help us track whether the support we're providing is both fast and helpful. Since support is a key feature to our product offering, in many ways the most important, it is critical that we make sure the knife is always sharp. More on that in a minute.
We also had the incredible privilege of meeting up with a large group of our team in the Philippines for the first time this year. Several other team members flew in for days of fun and fellowship!
Being a remote team these times are extremely precious. There is nothing like spending time in the real world together, and it is something we hope to do again very soon. Our leadership team also had a great time together in November—thinking, planning, and praying over the upcoming year and the people of Themeco.
From The Leadership Team
Alexander Rohmann, Director of Development: Developmentally, I'd characterize 2018 as a year of transition. We have filled in many gaps of smaller but necessary features while laying a foundation for what is to come. 2018 was the beginning of our use of React both for internal projects and product development.
When we set out to bring undo/redo functionality to our builders, we opted to use Redux which led to rewriting the entire live preview in React. Additionally, the December, 2018 cycle involved rewriting the entire Inspector in React which has greatly improved performance. Overall, we're settling into a more robust application architecture which has prepared us for the next wave of big feature development.
We've also been been working on a redesigned Themeco website. I can't say too much, but it will be powered by React (with server side rendering) and an in-house developed CSS framework.
A big thanks to our committed group of beta testers who helped us round out each cycle before the official release. If you're interested in beta testing, send us an email. We're always looking for more people to help us break things.
We're also taking steps to expand the team. Did you know the 99% of X, Pro, and Cornerstone over the years has been built by two guys? Oh to count the hours Kory and I have spent on calls problem solving and workshopping ideas. I think we've hit peak efficiency with how well we can break down a project between our respective strengths.
We need to bring more people into the fold, so my role has shifted from being an engineer to more of a technical manager. We have incredibly talented people on our team and have already begun merging pull requests into our themes with their work. My focus will be on working with customers to identify key features, refine the scope of upcoming cycles, then finding ways to help the team tackle these projects together.
Matt Frost, Director of Operations: The last twelve months have been an exciting time for us on the operations side of the business as we have made some great strides forward to underpin our growth plans for 2019 and beyond. Some key highlights include:
- We have put in place frameworks and processes to improve the quality and efficiency of our support delivery.
- Work has begun on overhauling our knowledge base and documentation.
- We are working on internal processes to enable us to work consistently and scale easily as we grow.
- Our Enterprise team has grown and is a rock solid partner to an increasing number of businesses who rely on us for a wide range of technology solutions.
We are privileged to have a truly outstanding team of people, hand-picked from all around the world. Perhaps the most satisfying part of 2018 has been how we have fostered a culture in which we can identify and create opportunities for our people to flourish in a wide range of roles.
We're a united family who lift each other up and work hard to serve you well. As customers, you are our life blood and we share in your successes and in your struggles. We're pumped when we delight you, and heartbroken when we get something wrong. We always strive to be better tomorrow than we are today.
One thing is for sure…you all have kept us busy! In 2018:
- You have opened nearly 30,000 new support tickets.
- We've published almost 70,000 ticket responses, resolving tickets in an average of 2.2 replies (our goal is first time resolution).
- Our average response time has been 5 hours (very often less than 2 hours) despite our stated response target of 24 hours.
Going forward, we want to do even better in all areas of the business. We've got some really exciting plans (all of which will be announced in due course!) and so we're busy making sure we've got the right people in the right roles with the right tools to deliver success for us and for you.
We're incredibly thankful to everyone who supports us, whether by buying one of our products, partnering with us for a project, reaching out to us for help or with suggestions, or even by building a business around us.
We've spent a great deal of time talking through how best we can gather feedback from the Themeco community and wanted to share a bit more about how we do this.
First, we have an extensive process for gathering feedback from our support channels. Once a feature request is made, it goes into an issue tracker that allows us to track interest. This is the foundation to our feedback loop and provides a great pulse on general sentiment.
Second, we have identified key people in the community to act as customer advocates for desired features, fixes, and issues. Many have been customers for years and bring a range of skill sets and perspectives to the table.
We reach out to them from time to time to discuss pain points, things they are hearing or observing, and other suggestions they may have. Certain ideas will be taken to them for feedback and others are shared publicly for broader feedback.
While gathering feedback can be a challenge at times (you'll quickly discover in development circles the truth to the saying that you can't please everyone) 🙂 it remains a priority for us to be good listeners.
All together, this helps us continue to improve on making good product decisions while making sure customer voices are being heard across various channels. From the beta testers to the customer advocate team to the various community and Facebook groups, we are most thankful to the many people who give of their time and talents to support the growing Themeco community. It means a great deal!
With regards to social, Themeco doesn't run or manage any official Facebook groups however we do routinely post news to our Facebook and Twitter pages and encourage you to follow us there if you'd like to stay in the loop through those channels.
If you'd like to interact with fellow Themeco customers on Facebook we invite you to check out Michael Bourne's Themeco Users Group as well as Steve Woody's Pro Theme Users Group. Both of these gentlemen work closely with our leadership team and are all around great dudes!
2019 Sneak Peek
As we look forward to 2019, you can expect to see several new advancements for Themeco.
For starters, we have already mapped out most of our development timeline for the entire year! Combining both top feature requests mixed in with our own vision for the future of the products, we'd like to share a preview of it with you today.
The first and second quarters of 2019 will be focused around bringing dynamic content to the builders, a new grid, and a very impressive new Layout Builder.
Support for dynamic content will allow you to select from a variety of existing data points from WordPress native fields, custom post fields, and more. We will also be exploring how this feature will work with various 3rd party tools such as ACF Pro and Toolset.
Our new grid will be based on the native CSS Grid spec. We've been experimenting with this for our Themeco site redesign and are excited to bring much of what we've learned there to our product lineup.
The Layout Builder will be a significant step forward as it will allow you to fully customize index pages, archive pages, blog pages, and more.
Once these updates are in place, we will transition to a theme options reboot. While it's a little premature to give all the secrets away just yet, you will begin hearing more about this in the new year.
There is much more in store with regards to smaller features and enhancements, but these are a few of the bigger highlights! In addition to the roadmap for X and Pro, we we have a very exciting new service launching in 2019.
Since the launch of Pro in mid 2017, we have been laying the ground work for much of what you will begin to see this year. The web design world is rapidly changing, and we are well positioned to keep our customers on the cutting edge—in WordPress and beyond.
From the entire Themeco team, thank-you for the continued trust you place in our team each and every day! We are humbled and honored to be able to work with you and your sites. We are extra thankful for the many friendships that have been formed and look forward to many, many more. May 2019 be a year of great growth and development for you in all manners and in all ways.