It's a brave team that launches a new CMS into such crowded and established marketplace.
Boris Sokolov and his team are doing exactly that with Microweber. They hope to stand out in two ways. First, by being based on Laravel, a PHP framework that is enormously popular with developers. Second, Microweber has a focus on e-commerce.
I spoke with Boris shortly after the release of version 1.0 of Microweber.
Hi Boris, can you introduce yourself and your team?
I'm Boris Sokolov, a web designer by trade and the CEO of Microweber CMS. Around 10 years ago I became highly interested in web design & website creation and I have been operating in the industry ever since.
Our team is surprisingly small, but highly efficient: Peter Ivanov is our main developer and Alexander Raykov takes care of the front-end development and UX/UI details. Actually, this is not our first project together, as we founded one of our country's first web design companies a few years ago. Working on projects, we thought that some of the existing CMS solutions were a bit too complex and rigid. This is how the idea for making our own website builder was born.
What is Microweber?
Microweber is the change we wanted to see in the website builder/CMS niche. It's an open source CMS that operates on the smooth Drag & Drop technology in pursuit of making everything way simpler for its users. Even people who are unfamiliar with technology trends will have no problem building their website, blog or online shop.
Microweber's most important feature though is what we dubbed the "Live Edit" functionality. To keep it short, Live Edit means that users can apply any edits to their website in real time. Think of it as a more sophisticated WYSIWYG feature that spares them the need to preview their content or be restricted to admin panels only.
The software is very scalable due to relying on "modules" (think of them as plug-ins or extensions). We have several templates available and a Marketplace that further increases the scalability and customization options available to users.
Why choose PHP rather than Node.js, Ruby or alternatives?
Surely we could go with Node.js, but we decided to use PHP for one single reason: it’s the major language of the web and it’s available on any hosting provider. The PHP scripts just work and doesn’t need you to install anything or setup a server. Installing Microweber is as easy as uploading the files by FTP and accessing your site’s address. Also by using PHP we made the system accessible to many developers who already know the language.
Why choose Laravel rather than Symfony or other frameworks?
As you may know Laravel is built on top of some Symfony components. We decided to go with Laravel because it’s like a bundled version of Symfony with all components connected and working. The hard work of connecting all PHP components into a stable framework is already done by the awesome Laravel community. We do not have to re-invent the wheel. Also the Laravel project is more friendly to beginners.
What kind of users are you targeting with Microweber?
Our target audience – and the current user base we have accumulated, is very diverse. Generally speaking, Microweber is perfect for bloggers, e-commerce merchants and people needing to create a website. The software is also targeted at people who struggle with the technological ins and outs of website building - we have made everything unbelievably easy even for those who haven't got technological experience.
However, we also keep developers and web designers in mind, both as freelancers or on a more company/agency level. By being open source, having white label price plans and offering both our API and marketplace, we're giving them a chance to use Microweber in their projects or design/develop modules or templates on our own platform.
What is the business model for Microweber?
As with having an eclectic target audience, we are fans of having a varied business model, of course framed by a clear vision and discipline. Microweber's business model encompasses several streams for income.
Aside from a free trial plan, we have two other paid plans for our customers. This stream of revenue is paired with customer support & customer service so it's a long-term integral part of our model. Marketplace elements such as paid premium templates and sophisticated modules are also an important financial stream.
I mentioned earlier our white label plan for hosting companies or web design companies – it has been a success so far, as many professionals tend to enjoy the comfortability and functionality of the software. Additionally, we have hosting plans and can take care of our clients' hosting needs.
All in all, our business model lies heavily on the concept of recurring payment via monthly service fees.
What can we expect from Microweber in future versions?
We just released the official 1.0 version of Microweber which is already a very solid end product. However, there are several things we want to take care of in the near future.
Our first and foremost goal is to provide more templates. Customizability is king in website creation and we want our users to express themselves more potent by having access to a wide pool of templates. Same applies for new modules that will help extend any website, blog or online shop's functionality.
Multilingual website support is also very high on our to-do list. We have had several requests for that coming from our users and we will be focusing on that very soon.
With Version 1.0 out, we overhauled the software's design and interface, so it's on par with the leading industry trends in the moment. However, we want to polish both the design, usability and user friendliness of the platform further, so we will be looking forward to doing that too.
I think these are our main priorities in the moment, though we have a recommendation system and our community is giving us invaluable insight on features that can be implemented in Microweber.