Open source content management systems are taking over the world. We have the world media changers WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, ExpressionEngine and less-known ImpressPages, a winner at “2011 Open Source Awards” as the Most Promising Open Source Project.
Today, a creative mind behind the ImpressPages, Mindaugas Stankaitis is sharing his experience and lessons learnt working on the open source content management system for designers.
Drag & drop CMS for designers
ImpressPages is a content management system with inline editing and drag and drop website controls. The aim is to develop the system for designers to provide them and their customers with a convenient tool.
The project was initially started by three people: Mangirdas Skripka, Audrius Jankauskas, and Mindaugas Stankaitis. Currently, our team consists of 5 people. Mangirdas is the programmer and system developer. He takes care of the code and system operation. Audrius is the team leader; he is responsible for the business and also knows HTML well and is happy to contribute to system development. I am the designer. My responsibilities include creating the interface of the system, analysis and realization of customer needs.
Solve your own problems
We owned a web design agency and from the very beginning we were searching for a tool that would be convenient and simple for website administrators. Eventually, as we could not find a suitable tool on the market, we decided to create one. So we started working with ImpressPages. We wanted to create a tool suitable not only for us, but also for other web developers from around the world. It seems that we have succeeded. To this day, the system has been translated to 32 languages and our customers are from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, France, the Netherlands, and other markets.
Landing an investment doesn’t require a paid product
ImpressPages is open source, the system is free. We are currently developing the marketplace integrated in the system. We want to offer website administrators the possibility to buy necessary plug-ins, themes, and pictures easily and conveniently. We also believe that it is a convenient way for the developers to offer their products to the users.
In 2011, we received the most promising open source award, which was a great encouragement for us. It was one of the signs that we are going in the right direction. In 2013, we received a EUR 250,000 investment from venture capital fund Practica Capital, which will be used for active expansion.
Functional design first, then aesthetics
I think about design as a functional thing – it is more than just pictures. In such case, the design becomes one of the key elements in CMS world. A good design of CMS must help the user to manage his/her website conveniently. This is what we thought about when creating ImpressPages.
Do not focus on the name, firstly make the product work
We do not have a specific story behind the name. When developing the system, we focused on the code, convenience, design, and other things, but not the marketing. We brainstormed the name quickly, without much pains of creation. We were just looking for a simple, memorable name.
Now that we have established in the market and received additional investment, we are starting to think more about marketing and public relations processes, because we understand how important they are.
Ensure high quality to compete with big names in the industry
Our weapon is the better product. We are oriented to the designers; for them it is important that the website they deliver to the customer is not only aesthetic and functional, but also easy to manage. We believe that website content management is as important experience as browsing the website. We have an intuitive tool convenient for the user. ImpressPages may be used by the users without any programming knowledge, who can create a website in a few hours by drag and drop principle. It allows offering our product to a wide circle of users.
Try to find an investment as soon as possible
The biggest mistake we did was probably the one with the investment. We took a lot of time to create the product itself and started exploring the possibilities to receive an investment much later. If we worked on such project again, we would start thinking about venture capital funds and other investors much earlier.
Challenges developing a world-class CMS
From the perspective of design, ImpressPages is a huge challenge: when creating the system, a neutral design matching any website had to be created. On the other hand, we wanted to give an individual and recognizable visual face to ImpressPages.
We wanted to create a system which would be as universal as possible and which would allow implementing website designs of different complexity.
It was a big challenge, because creating a simple website, i.e. an online business card, requires just a few basic functions. However, creating a larger portal demands much more functions. Therefore, we had a dilemma how to integrate the functions as simply as possible, with minimum programming knowledge, etc.
Our project is international so marketing and communication are very important for its promotion. It is not easy to promote it at the international level, even more so with minimum investment. On the other hand, we can be proud that such portals as Techcrunch have already written about us several times. Our team is small and we cannot afford a lot of experimenting. Each function and element has to be well thought through to implement it with available resources.
Find a good team, don’t be afraid & do your job
My advice would be not to be afraid and work. The team is also important. It is difficult to achieve something without a team. ImpressPages chose to develop the business with the investors. In such case, one should consider venture capital investment. Our first step was startup accelerator, which helped to refine the idea and understand what is important to the investors. Another thing we understood that the idea is not most important in creating a business. Ideas may be various and they change in the course of work. Do not be afraid to share your ideas with others–this may indicate the weaknesses and strengths. And do not fear that someone may steal your idea. Your passion is more important and it will help you fulfill your desires.
My future is closely related with ImpressPages and the team of the project. The investment encourages working even more intensely, developing the product itself more actively, and increasing our market share. Therefore, my plans for the future are to give all my energy to ImpressPages.
Headquarters: Vilnius, Lithuania
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