We are super excited to interview Sam Brodie, a co-founder of Offsprout. Offsprout is a white label website builder for WordPress. Sam was a co-founder of JurisPage, too, a productized digital agency.
Dejan: Sam, thank you so much for agreeing to answer our questions. We know that you are busy, so let’s start with getting to know you a little better. Can you please tell us a little bit about your WordPress origin story?
Sam: Thanks for having me guys. I’ve been doing WordPress stuff since 2010. The first few years I worked as a freelancer and then I joined up with my current business partner and we transitioned from freelancing to a productized design agency. As a freelancer, you know, you’re always on the revenue roller coaster. But, once we established the productized design agency called JurisPage, (which we did websites and marketing for attorneys), we were slowly able to kind of even out that revenue and grow the brand. That was from 2013 through 2016. Then the brand JurisPage got acquired in 2016 and after that, we released Offsprout, which was the website builder that we had been using internally to grow JurisPage. We rebuilt it so that we could release it publicly. That’s the quick version and I’m happy to go into any of those parts in greater detail later.
Dejan: As there are so many website and page builders in the market, how did you decide to go with another builder?
Sam: As I said, when we built Offsprout originally, it was for an internal use for JurisPage, and that was in 2013, so when we started that company, there weren’t really any website builders for WordPress yet, so we were kind one of the first but didn’t really say it publicly, which is another story. Maybe we made a mistake, by not releasing it publicly back then, maybe not. Only time will tell. Even the builders that exist now are great for building pages, but our builder has more of a focus on sitewide stuff, so it’s a full website builder and not just a page builder. And then it also has a focus on process-oriented stuff which is really important for a design agency especially whose trying to build lots of websites at the same time and maintain a bunch of websites for different clients. So, you know, centralized color schemes, centralized module, skins button, skins, that kind of stuff. So that when a client says, Hey, I love the design that you made for me, except that blue color that you’re using, can you just make that a lighter shade of blue? So in most page builders, you’d have to go into each module individually to edit that, Offsprout centralize stuff like that. So everything is connected to a centralized color scheme and you just change it in one place. So workflow, stuff like that.
Dejan: That means that Offsprout centralizes stuff in one place for all those sites, for example, for agencies building multiple sites, right? And they can use that color scheme from that one place for all the sites, am I correct?
Sam: It’s on a per-site basis because, you know, you might have different clients that have different color schemes, but it’s for all of the pages within that website and all the different module types that connect to that color scheme. And then you can change it in one place and it just propagates throughout the entire site.
Dejan: Perfect. And, how can marketers and marketing agencies use Offsprout?
Sam: You can build landing pages in Offsprout, we use it to build all of our landing pages. Obviously, we use it for our own website. One of the cool things about using Offsprout is you can have a, let’s say you have two different campaigns going that are targeting two different segments. Maybe you want some kind of unique texts and just the top. But then you want to share, the bottom and no social proof block. And you want to share the features block between all of your campaigns. You can build these what Offsprout calls structures that essentially give you the ability to create the sitewide stuff, the stuff that’s going to be used in multiple different pages, and then have a specific content area where you create content that’s specific to that pages so you can share, for example, shared testimonials blocks between all of your landing pages. And then if you want to update it, you just have to update it and go in that one place and it’ll update for all of your landing pages instead of having to go in for each landing page specifically. So again, bringing us back to the centralized design concept. Beyond that, we have a template library and we’re always adding new templates. So, you have page templates and section templates. If you want to kind of build your own landing page, add different template sections, you can do that. So again more tools to just improve your workflow.
Dejan: Perfect. So what are the next steps with Offsprout?
Sam: We’ve been getting a lot of great feedback from our current users and people want more templates and more template functionality. So, that’s definitely been our concentration for the Q4, and we’ll be releasing a lot more templates, towards the end of the year plus some new template functionality. The one thing that I’m really excited about is improving the functionality of our personal template cloud. Offsprout gives you the ability to have your own personal template cloud where you save the templates that you built yourself, and so you can use them in addition to Offsprout built-in templates. We’re going to add the ability to save module skins there so that if you want to reuse a certain design for a specific module, you can just apply that design skin to your modules. There will be an easier interface for managing all of your templates in your personal template cloud. So just a lot of really cool functionality, surrounding how you deal with templates, how you can save templates, how you can manage templates, and what you can save as part of a template.
Tina: What would you say is your typical user? For example, do people need to know at least a little bit of coding or anyone can make a website with Offsprout?
Sam: Good question. So, we typically catered towards freelancers and design agencies. While you don’t need to know how to code and Offsprout is a completely visual builder, we’re focusing on the workflow stuff for freelancers and design agencies specifically as opposed to someone who’s just building a website for the first time. We have more advanced functionality for, someone like that, but it’s at the expense of maybe a little bit of simplicity like Squarespace has. So you get more functionality, but, that that comes with a bit of a learning curve. With that said we do have a permissions builder so that the agency can kind of build the permissions that they want their client to have and greatly reduce the complexity of the interface. And so they can say, okay, well I only want my clients to be able to use page templates from this page template folder and they should only be able to edit content. They shouldn’t be able to change the design around it or delete stuff so you can build these specific roles for your clients, once you’ve built out the site and make the interface really simple for them.
Tina: Oh, that’s perfect for agencies.
Sam: Right? I’m sure anyone that’s running an agency has had that moment when they hand over the keys to the client and the client starts changing stuff around the site and then all of a sudden they have like, the full-width text on the homepage, this big block of text. With some clients, you can’t give them too much power to change design and ad stuff wherever they want.
Tina: Have you tested Offsprout with Gutenberg? Will Gutenberg impact Offsprout in any way?
Sam: That’s the million dollar question right now for all builders. So I think right now it’s hard to tell the full impact that Gutenberg is going to have. I think it actually could be great for the page builder space because, Gutenberg is kind of a page builder so it can introduce more people to the concept of a page builder, but it doesn’t really have that much functionality yet. And so people could say, okay, now that I know what a page builder is maybe I should upgrade to a more full-featured page builder. Offsprout has a light integration with Gutenberg and we’re looking into ways that we can make that a deeper integration so that you might be able to go back and forth or use Gutenberg for some things and Offsprout for other things. One of the big question marks with Gutenberg is how it’s going to handle sitewide content. For example, headers, footers, sidebars, that kind of stuff. And that’s really important to Offsprout and to Offsprout users. So again, it’s a website builder, not just a page builder. We’re going to have to see how Gutenberg handles that in order to see the full extent of how Offsprout and Gutenberg can play nicely together.
Dejan: Great. I am sure our audience is interested to learn more about how did you productize the web design business? Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Sam: The JurisPage was a productized design agency and if you’re not familiar with that term, that essentially means that you’re trying to turn a service into a product. So how do you do that? That’s essentially just documenting your processes and making them as repeatable as possible to the point where essentially everything that you do you have a pretty guaranteed output for those because you’re just following the steps and that means that hiring is easier. Onboarding new employees are easier, client satisfaction goes up because, once you get your processes locked in and you know that clients like the work, a product that is created by those processes, you’re just repeating them over and over again for clients. It relies heavily on documentation, breaking down the processes into as granular steps as you can. The example that I like to give is you might think that build the website for the client is one step, but actually you can break that down into, find a template that matches the client’s design preferences and customize that template, then swap in the content and you know, etc. Even within that do revisions and within the revision step you can also break that down further into do content revisions and do design revisions. Once you break down the process into those granular steps, you can then identify which steps need the most skill and which steps are just as simple as following the documentation. You can see that out of 25 processes, only maybe two or three of them are really going to need your attention and the rest you can hire out. That’s a good way to start onboarding or start offloading some of your work to contractors and eventually employees.
Dejan: Cool. How can people find you and how can people find Offsprout?
Sam: I know you guys are big into social media, but unfortunately I am terrible at it. So the easiest way to find me is through the website, https://offsprout.com/ or you can just email me at email@example.com. I know most people will give their twitter handles, but you can follow me if you want. I’m not very active though. It’s Sam Brodie on Twitter.
Tina: Great. Can you tell us what are the pricing plans for Offsprout?
Sam: We just have per site pricing. Different tiers depending on the number of sites that you want to build. So we have a $9/month tier that you can build up to three sites than a $29/month for up to 10 and then $59 for unlimited. So keeping it simple. We had more complex pricing, but we’re getting a lot of confused support questions about it, so we just simplified it.
Tina: Thank you again for answering all our questions. Offsprout seems like a really great website builder. We are looking forward to seeing what the future will bring to it.
Sam: Thanks guys for having me. It was a pleasure chatting with you both.
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