Interview With Founder Ben Sibley Of Compete Themes

ben-sibleyAre you a newbie but aiming to create your own website? Are website builders too complicated for you?

Guess what? Website builders don’t need to be difficult and complicated! You actually have easier options!

Due to the maturing business of website building, several companies are now offering easier, faster, customizable and fully-supported websites. Now you don’t have to go through the confusing and difficult process of coding them yourselves.

Create websites with the push of a button! Drag and click and watch everything fall into place.

If you need further information, we have Ben Sibley from Compete Themes. He will answer your question about website building and his company.

It’s a pleasure to have you here Ben. We are glad to have you here for a quick interview. Let’s get the ball rolling shall we…

First, we would like to ask you for a short overview of what your company does. What does Compete Themes offer?

Compete Themes offers WordPress themes that are easy to use, easy to customize, and well supported. Our goal is to help WordPress users quickly setup a site that looks exactly the way they want, even if they’re new to WordPress.

That’s awesome! How did you come up with this business though? What was your inspiration? Also, who made Compete Themes possible? Who are the people behind your success.

After using WordPress for a few years to build sites, I got fed up with overly complicated themes. I wanted to make themes that hit a sweet spot – enough flexibility to get the look you want without dozens of settings.

I started Compete Themes mid-2014, and it’s still just me running the business and making the themes. I outsource some of my customer support, so I can provide 24-hour coverage and the team I work with has been great.

We have learned that Compete Themes is leaning more towards newbies and has been developed through trial and error. Based on your experience, what can you say is the easiest way to be good at WordPress? And how is Compete Themes going to help newbies in establishing their own site.

Like all other things, learning WP takes practice, but it also helps to set people on the right track. There is a “WordPress way” to doing most things.

One of the best ways to learn WP is to understand the fundamentals. For instance, understanding things like the role that themes have VS plugins, when to use a category VS a tag, and how to use shortcodes. Following these lessons will be the difference between a site that is easy and fun to manage and one that is a stressful mess. These are all subjects that I’ve covered on the blog.

I design the themes with these ideas in mind and help people take smart approaches with these issues in the support forums every day.

2016-10-15_0900What can you say has changed in the website building industry? How is being newbie friendly helping you with business? Do you offer advanced websites as well?

There are more alternatives to WordPress for newbies now than ever. Back when I got started with WordPress, it was the solution that didn’t require knowing how to code. Now WordPress is beginning to look like a more challenging alternative to site builders like SquareSpace.

Despite this, WordPress still has incredible adoption rates and new users pick it up every day. The first place most of these users look is the theme repository whether they’re browsing the site or in the Appearance section in their admin dashboard. I have all of my themes reviewed and published on the theme repository for this reason. I still remember how hard it can be to learn. I want new WordPress users to find my themes because they will set them up for success.

Each of my themes has a “Pro” upgrade for users who want more advanced customization options, and these too are streamlined and easy to use.

What are the most common features that a newbie should look for in a website builder? How are these features going to help them in creating their website?

Let me start by saying the number one challenge for new webmasters is the lack of a process for building a site. In a nutshell, the process is:

Decide on goals for the site
Outline the content you will need to deliver on those goals
Find a design that will complement that content
Build the site

When people pick a design, start building the site, and then figure out what content they need to add, it’s a disaster. You should have clear goals for your site and at least an outline of the content you will be adding before looking for a site builder of any kind.

Once you know that, you need to find a design that will complement that content. Do you need a sidebar? Do you need to feature news or blog posts? Is there a place to promote your email list? Try a demo of the product and check with the creator if it looks like there’s something it doesn’t have that you need.

You’re simply checking off your boxes as you review designs.

We were told you offered free themes is that true? If that’s the case, what does the premium upgrade give you? Why should your customers pay for the upgrade?

Yes, all of the themes are free and have a premium upgrade. The upgrade is a plugin you activate on your site and it adds a host of new features like color controls for each element of the site, access to hundreds of fonts, and new layouts.

The premium upgrade is for users who want more control over their site. The theme is free and includes all the essentials, but the upgrade lets you make the site one-of-a-kind.

The freemium model allows me to monetize my work while also giving back to the open source community. The customers fund the free users.


What does paying for your service mean? Other than the usual website building part of course? Do you offer any extras? Do you offer web hosting as well?

With a premium upgrade users also get updates and priority support. It’s important that the products are continually updated and maintained, and that customers can receive help with bugs or small customizations at any time

The themes featured in your website look fantastic? How customizable are they? Are they newbie friendly?

Thanks! They include all of the essential customization options I think a theme should have. For instance, the ability to add social profile icons, modify the post excerpts, or upload a custom logo.

They’re focused on giving users the options they need without tons of fluff or features that are better left to plugins.

Let’s say I’m a newbie entrepreneur looking at starting my own website? What are the factors I should consider when making one? How does appearance affect a site’s performance?

Start with the process I outlined above, and then try out some designs. Any service that lets you try out their designs for free is a bonus since you can preview your actual content.

The appearance can have a huge effect on performance. If your goal is to build an audience with content then your posts should be front and center. If your goal is to build an email list, your form(s) should be the most prominent element on each page. This is how the design of a site can complement and enhance your ROI.

Lastly, which one of your themes is your favorite? Are there any crowd favorites among them?

I’ve got a new one coming out, Cele, that I really like, but for now Chosen takes the cake. Tracks has consistently been the most popular among users for years now.


Thank you Ben for taking the time off your busy day to answer our questions. We wish you and your company the best of luck!

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