I am excited to be able to premiere a new section here at Bit Rebels – “Interviews“. A section that I think will be full of inspiration and great interviews with some of the Internets most creative, respected and interesting personalities. We will take you behind and beyond the scenes where these people create their addictive & brilliant online brands. We will ask the question you all have wanted to ask and of course you will be able to comment and ask your own questions. Hopefully they will find the time to interact with you by answering your questions as well.
So, for our premiere I am happy to bring to you a special and in depth interview with the widely successful and respected designer team “Obox Design“. I’ve managed to lure them away from their work for a chat here at Bit Rebels which I found was not only a huge inspiration boost but also one of the greatest interviews I have conducted. These guys are just a wealth of knowledge and professional geekiness. I bid you welcome and hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): Hi guys and thank you for taking the time to let us get to know you a little better. Most people know you as Obox Design and even more people know you from your widely successful design series “From The Couch”. Lately people have been finding your new Obox Design baby “Obox Themes” to be one of the best resources for premium WordPress themes and I am sure they would like to know what lies behind all that creative power you guys showcase over and over again. Welcome.
Obox Design: Thanks Richard, it’s a pleasure to answer your questions below. This is one of the best interviews we have done, really cool questions.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): When and where did you guys first come up with the idea of starting OBOX?
Marc: I think more than an idea it was more of an evolution; we were working for Peresoft (http://peresoft.com) for a few years solely on their site but we started getting more and more of our own client project and it pretty much forced us to establish a company name for our new clients. You may not believe neither of us thought we’d be working on computers, we thought we’d be world famous racing drivers by now.
David: It was around 2004/2005 and we just got this idea to branch off from our fathers company.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): OBOX, where does the name originate from and how did you guys come up with it?
David: Initially it was called the Perel Factory, then Echo. We didn’t feel that either of those were really good names and Obox just kept coming up… it was like a stuck record so we decided to go with it. By the way Obox is from the cliché ‘Outside the Box’.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): You guys have quite a few interesting ideas under your company such as “OBOX Themes”, “OBOX Design” and the widely successful “From The Couch”. What’s your vision for all of these concepts and where do you find the time to keep them all so up to date?
Marc: Not forgetting We are not Freelancers as well, it can be hard to find the time for all of our projects. Of course we force the time sometimes and really hustle our faces off to get things done for everything. Calming down on the Couch sessions has definitely helped in that regard and we also have a better general ebb and flow with the way we balance Themes and Client work. In the future we’d love it if Obox was a one-stop for web people, providing themes, insight, custom dev work and a good show all under one roof, and I think we’re getting closer all the time.
David: As Marc says above My personal main aim is to get everything under one roof, the blog, the video shows and our themes.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): People that watch “From The Couch” knows by now that you are actually three people involved in OBOX. Third person being your sister Nat Perel. I for one feel as she’s a vital part of the team however she doesn’t get that much time on “Screen”. She’s somewhat of the character “Ginny Weasley” in Harry Potter. Why not harness the “Power of Three”?
Marc: Sooner or later Nat will be part of the show, it’s as much a case of her getting some more web and design experience as her becoming less camera shy. Once she’s got those two down, we’ll “implement” her (she’s not a piece of furniture Marc!) into the show and we’ll be harnessing the powers.
David: Nat is still shy in front of the camera and often we try convince her to sit with us but she does prefer filming. In our opinion she is by far the most talented of us three and when she gets a bit older and more experienced people are going to be very jealous of her artistic abilities. She helps me a lot with some of my designs and her drawing is 1000 times better than mine, all the drawings that you see in our themes are by her.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): You guys are constantly working on new Themes for “OBOX Themes” and they are quite stunning to say the least. How long does it take for you to take it from idea to finished product and who does what in the process?
Marc: The first theme, Hash One took a while, we put so much effort into the design and developing the OCMX backend for it since we wanted people to really love it. Then the “Original 3” themes which we launched when we started Obox Themes took a month all together. Now themes take between 2 and 3 weeks from design to deployment. Design takes 2 thirds of the time!
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): There is a million Web 2.0 WordPress themes out there and most even for free. When will we see a next gen, Web 3.0 if you will, theme from OBOX Design?
David: We don’t like to predict the future, we prefer to react to the now. Sometimes we look back and realize that some of our thoughts and concepts were ahead of the trend, however we don’t recognize it at the time. So we will just keep designing and developing what we feel comfortable with and if that happens to be ground breaking then, awesome.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): Talking about new and exciting things, watching “From The Couch” always hints you guys have a few things up your sleeve. Can you tell us something new and exciting that we don’t already know? Is there anything up for release in the near future?
Marc: Well, we just launched our affiliate program which was the “big hitter” that we had! There’s nothing super duper secret that we’ve got going at the moment… Or is there?
David: Marc is lying, we have two new things in the pipeline. One is new pricing option for our themes which I believe will do quite well. The other is too secret to mention now but hopefully we will have it out before the end of the year The Affiliate program has been a major success and we tried to keep our 25:25 program as secret as possible because it hadn’t been done before. We literally get asked everyday about the 25:25 concept and can see one or two online companies copying the idea.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): Being a designer/developer it’s always interesting to know what tools other designers and developers use. Often referred to as software park, what does it look like and to what extent do you use these apps?
Marc: Dave and I were talking about this the other day… “What Apps do we use” to which we replied “What ARE Apps!?” . Our father is an old school programmer, and most things he does/uses he builds himself, we sort of have that weakness in that we generally create our own solutions to web-related tracking/reports/applications that we need. Tools we use: Dreamweaver, a PC, Fireworks and Microsoft Office.
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): The creative process can be quite a long and exhausting process which require an energy boost every now and then. What inspires you and are you like most geeks that rely on energized beverages to keep you going? If so what are they?
Marc: Inspiration for me comes when I’m doing exercise, almost all of my solutions have come when I’m on the bike or running, it’s a bit cliché but it’s what works for me. We’ve been known to sneak in a Redbull now and then at 1am to keep going.
David: I am constantly looking for inspiration in everything I look at, it can be a cars dashboard, a pair of shoes, a table… anything really. I try and separate my mind from being obsessed with finding inspiration. I know it will come eventually so I never force it… forcing inspiration is the worst thing you can do. Whenever we start a new client project I tell them that it will take up to take two weeks to think up a concept. By the way, I do rely on RedBull if we are working late to meet a deadline.
Marc: In the last year we’ve had a few stand out moments; the Launch of We are not Freelancers and it’s success on showcase sites was ridiculous, then From the Couch: if we hadn’t started our video show we wouldn’t be in the position we are today, certainly not nearly as connected to the community and as well known. Finally Obox Themes, we worked literally 18 hours days for 30 days straight to get it out and it’s something that’s so vital to allow Obox being scalable and to grow into something much more awesome.
David: Winning Best New Blog in South Africa, being featured on some of the top design blogs (Smashing Mag, Hongkiat, Tuts+ etc.) were both massive boosts to our growth and presence online. Launching our theme company was a massive task and also gave us a surprising amount of growth. Every single piece of code on Obox Design was custom built from scratch – the forums, the checkout process, the affiliate program, the profile pages – and we did it in 30 days from a blank piece of paper. That was without doubt one of my proudest moments… the last 48hrs of that project were spent awake and at our desk working like crazy to get things completed. It was fun but wow were we broken after that!
Bit Rebels (Richard Darell): I will let you guys get back to work now to bring us more of your genuine designs and concepts and I hope we haven’t taken up too much of your time. Thank you for your time and we’re looking forward hearing more about you in the future.
Obox Design: Thanks again Richard and good luck with Bit Rebels, it seems to be growing seriously fast!
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