An interview with Christopher Gimmer from BootstrapBay
We have recently caught up with Christopher Gimmer – co-founder of BootstrapBay, which is a premium marketplace for Bootstrap themes and templates. One of the most open and cool guys we had the chance to talk with, he was quick to give us loads of tips on how to grow and market our mission better. Find out more about the struggles of growing a startup, marketing, creating quality products and his opinion about our work in our conversation!
Tell us a bit about yourself! What are you all about and do you enjoy doing most?
My two biggest passions right now are travel and web entrepreneurship. In fact, the reason why I wanted to start an online business in the first place was to give myself more freedom to travel and explore the world. Being able to work from anywhere is something that really excites me.
I’m also a big proponent of continuous learning and self-improvement. I read fairly often and I’m always trying to develop new skills. These days, it’s learning more about web development.
How did you get started with technology and design? Are you more of a tech-geek or someone who is interested in everything he lays hands on?
I only got started with technology and design a few years ago when I met my co-founder Marc. Prior to us meeting, I didn’t know anything about web design and was far from a tech-geek.
When he started showing me one of the applications he was working on, I was very impressed, especially when he told me that he’s completely self-taught.
From that point on, I became a lot more interested in tech. I started off learning HTML & CSS and recently started dipping my toes in PHP & MySQL.
When we decided to launch BootstrapBay, I started focusing most of my energy into learning everything I could about SEO, inbound marketing, and growth. Since Marc had a strong development and design background, it made more sense for me to develop a complementary skillset and let Marc focus 100% on the development work.
What’s the main purpose of Bootstrap Bay? Is still similar to a startup that is looking for a marketplace or has it matured to a degree that is now considered a standard?
There’s no question that Bootstrap has become the most popular front-end framework in the world and more and more developers and designers are leveraging the framework to create some amazing things.
Taking note of this, we thought there would be high demand for a marketplace focused on nothing but high quality Bootstrap themes & templates. Rather than compete with other large marketplaces that offer everything under the sun, we decided to focus strictly on our core offering. This enables us to thoroughly review each submission that comes in and ensure that every item on our marketplace is exactly what our customers are looking for – a high quality template built off Bootstrap.
What do you do at BootstrapBay? What did you learn by working and growing it?
My main focus at BootstrapBay is marketing and growth. This involves inbound marketing, SEO, paid advertising, affiliate partnerships, business development, and so on.
In addition, I handle all of the customer support because I want to know exactly what challenges our customers and theme authors are facing. This is instrumental in prioritizing new features and changes that need to be made on the site. It also helps me build a relationship with our users which is very important to me.
I strongly encourage all startup founders to handle customer support for at least 6 months or so before hiring support staff. Without a doubt, it’s the best way to get to know your customers and learn how you can improve your product.
The BootstrapBay User Experience
What is the best way for a designer/developer to benefit from BootstrapBay?
BootstrapBay helps developers and designers kickstart their projects. Rather than starting from scratch, they’re able to work off a beautiful and fully functional design template.
For designers, it’s now just a matter of customizing the template to their specific needs. Starting off with a template saves designers a lot of time when building a website for clients, especially if limited customization is needed. As we all know, time is not something we have a lot of.
For developers, it means they can focus 100% on what they do best, which is programming. Since all of the front-end is taken care, they only need to worry about programming the back-end functionality. Whether it’s an ecommerce website or a back-end admin dashboard, a Bootstrap template is a fantastic starting point for any developer building their next application.
What other steps and tools do you recommend for web designers that are at the beginning of their work?
I’ve become a big proponent of wireframing and mockups. Before we take on a big project like a brand new website, we make sure to map out everything up front and create some initial mockups of how the site will look. This can be done in Photoshop or you can use dedicated tools like Balsamiq and WireFrame.cc.
For smaller design changes, we like to create mockups directly in the browser with HTML and CSS. For these small changes, it’s not worth spending time in Photoshop. Get the jist of what you need to do then delve into designing the site via code. This is how you get proficient in HTML and CSS
What topics are most interesting in the design space right now? What do you think about UI Kits and other pre-built resources such as the ones that you can find on Creative Tim?
We’re big fans of leveraging resources, which is why we love Bootstrap so much. What’s the point of reinventing the wheel when you can save yourself tons of time by using an existing code base?
Leveraging UI kits like the Get Shit Done Kit is a great way to differentiate your site from the default Bootstrap styling without spending hours in Photoshop and modifying CSS.
Another fantastic resource that designers should make use of is Google web fonts. Typography can make a huge impact on the look and feel of your site and using a nice font can make all the difference. Best of all, Google fonts are free and the selection is great.
Lastly, we’re seeing huge demand for high resolution free stock photos. As web technology continues to advance, more and more designers are incorporating full background images into their works. Free stock photos are also extremely handy for web designers creating themes & templates.
The demand for beautiful free stock photos has gotten so huge that we’re launching a new product – StockSnap.io. We’re looking to take the browsing experience to a whole new level by adding tags and stats making all the photos searchable and sortable.
Any advice for Creative Tim users?
Bootstrap is a fantastic framework but always keep in mind that it’s just that, a framework. I think it’s very important to inject some style and personality into your design and differentiate your site from the default Bootstrap styling.
Utilizing the resources available on Creative Tim will go along way in helping you achieve this goal. If you’re looking for something completely out of the box, we’d love for you to check out the themes & templates we have available on BootstrapBay as well.
Finally, while it’s important to keep up to date with design trends and frameworks, keep in mind that user experience should be priority number 1 when designing your next project. A website can have all the bells and whistles in the world but if it leaves users frustrated, they will likely never come back. Check out GoodUI.org for some UX best practices.