Interview with Monster’s Award Winners: Manage WP, WP Umbrella & Main WP

Check out this interview with three people who won the Monster's Award for their contributions to WordPress. This is an exploration of innovation and expertise from trailblazers Aurelio Volle, Marc Benzakein, and Predrag Zdravkovic.

Getting to know Predrag Zdravkovic, the guy behind Manage WP, would be a great start to our journey. Over the course of eight years, Predrag has mastered multiple roles and skills, but hasn't written a single line of code! The myriad ways one can make a difference in tech are evident in his story. Discover how Predrag's unconventional path led him to success, challenging conventional WordPress norms.

Go to Manage WP

Then goes Aurelio Volle, the creator of WP Umbrella. As CEO and co-founder, Aurelio helped create a revolutionary platform that simplifies WordPress site management. WP Umbrella gives users a comprehensive dashboard that streamlines tasks and boosts efficiency. Throughout his work, Aurelio's passion for empowering website owners shines through. He's a revered figure within the WordPress community.

Go to WP Umbrella

Here's Marc Benzakein, one of the best WordPress marketers around. Marc has over a decade of marketing experience and an innate understanding of audience dynamics. His ability to craft compelling narratives and leverage his extensive network has helped numerous businesses succeed. Marc's insights into marketing strategies are invaluable, offering a roadmap for success.

Go to Main WP

Discover the secrets behind their success as Monster's Award winners and WordPress innovation champions as we delve into the stories and strategies of these remarkable individuals.

Manage WP presented by Predrag Zdravkovic

Over my time here (last 8 years), I've jumped into all sorts of roles, learning and leveling up along the way, except writing a single line of code!

TemplateMonster: ManageWP consolidates data from multiple websites into one dashboard. The centralized approach simplifies the monitoring and management of multiple WordPress sites. In what ways does it benefit users with a diverse portfolio of websites?

Predrag Zdravkovic: Picture ManageWP as your Mission Control Center – a hub for overseeing various aspects of WordPress website management and maintenance. Instead of the hassle of logging into each website one after the other, consecutively, in a row (pun intended), wasting valuable time, you simply click a button to execute updates across all sites at once. Additionally, you can effortlessly monitor vulnerabilities, conduct security and performance scans, and address potential issues – all without toggling between different dashboards or changing browser tabs. As your portfolio expands, so might your team. Managing collaboration becomes crucial, and depending on your collaborators' diversity, role-based access control ensures scalable operations. Essentially, ManageWP prioritizes productivity, efficiency, and time-saving, aiming to free you from administrative hurdles. Our mission is to make your days more interesting, fulfilling, and manageable, allowing you to shift your focus on things that matter for your business, such as strategic growth and innovation, leaving the legwork to us.

TemplateMonster: How can ManageWP facilitate website updates and maintenance across multiple websites, and what kinds of bulk actions can users perform?

Predrag Zdravkovic: Updating plugins is undoubtedly time-consuming, and managing multiple plugins across numerous websites? That's a whole other level of time drain we'd rather avoid, right? Our approach focuses your attention on a comprehensive summary list, aiming to consolidate every plugin across all websites into one place, making it easy to oversee pending work. From there, we honed in on versatility, tailoring the workflow to your specific needs. Choose to update in batches, per website, or per plugin/theme, update everything simultaneously, or even schedule the updates according to your daily workflow. Avoid accidental updates by ignoring specific updates, especially for problematic plugins and themes. Leveraging bulk actions as a cornerstone, we extended this principle to nearly every action in ManageWP. Whether it's complete plugin/theme management, user role changes, password updates, or deletion across all websites in a single click – bulk actions streamline the process. The same efficiency that applies to WordPress-related tasks applies to client actions, as well as ManageWP tool-specific actions. Connecting websites to the dashboard, activating/deactivating tools, or changing tool settings and preferences, can all be done in bulk, ensuring a seamless and time-efficient experience.

TemplateMonster: In case of issues during updates, how does ManageWP ensure a seamless process? What mechanisms are in place for automatic rollbacks?

Predrag Zdravkovic: Let's be real – updates aren't anyone's favorite chore. Even if the update itself goes off without a hitch, there's that meticulous check on every website to ensure nothing breaks in countless ways. That's where our Safe Update tool steps in, relying on automatic rollback and a few other mechanisms to turn every update into a smooth and hassle-free process.

First things first – creating a backup before the process starts ensures we have the latest restore point if the update hits a snag. We then send out HTTP requests to the website, promptly halting the process if the response isn't what we hoped for - 200 OK. A 4xx or 5xx? Full stop on the entire update. The last step before the update dance begins – capturing the "before" picture of your homepage (or any page you choose). Post-update, we snap the "After" picture, presenting both side by side for a quick and easy visual inspection.

In the magical space between those pics, the update takes center stage. Post-update, another HTTP request confirms the website's response with a reassuring 200 OK. Now, if the update encounters a hiccup and the website doesn't give us the green light, we shoot you a heads-up. Something might be fishy, you know? No need to panic – you have the power to roll back with one click, almost like a magic undo button. And for those not keen on overseeing the process and clicking that button, the tool can automatically roll back changes, minimizing potential disruptions. This approach ensures that all WordPress professionals can confidently navigate updates with caution and effortlessly revert changes if complications arise.

TemplateMonster: How does ManageWP facilitate collaboration and multiple-user management, especially for agencies or teams working on client websites?

Predrag Zdravkovic: This is one of my favorite tools! It not only empowers you to delegate tasks to your team without handing over the keys to your entire account but also seamlessly accommodates client involvement in some cases. Whether it's collaborating with your team or your clients, you retain ultimate control over what they can see and do in your account.

When collaborating with your team, efficiency is key, you want them to have access so they can get things done. You can grant access to anyone you need, tailoring access levels at any point. Full access might be the go-to if it's a close-knit crew, but the flexibility is yours to decide.

On the client side of things, it's a slightly different ballgame. Clients only need access to their websites, so read-only access to specified sites ensures they can't accidentally see more than they need to. The invitation process is quick and hassle-free, with no need for your collaborators to create separate accounts. An invite results in the automatic creation of a collaborator account. Once collaboration concludes and you remove the collaborator, the account vanishes too.

In both scenarios, your collaborators maintain privacy safeguards. They can't see or change your login password, account settings, billing details, or details of other collaborators. It's a fortress of protection for your team's privacy.

Should they choose to create their own ManageWP account later, a simple login choice presents them with the option to go to their account or collaborate on yours. It's seamless, secure, and designed for smooth teamwork!

TemplateMonster: What customization options are available to allow users to customize reports according to their branding and preferences using ManageWP?

Predrag Zdravkovic: It's all about making it your own! ManageWP provides a lot of customization options, allowing users to craft reports that align with their brand identity and cater to client preferences. 

Let's start with design – you have the freedom to choose a color palette and fully customize the Front page template to seamlessly integrate with your branding. Personalize it further by adding your logo, and tweaking the introduction and closing messages, all while enjoying the convenience of Markdown support for effortless formatting. And for those who appreciate the finer details, you can opt for a regular or condensed font, with the latter featuring characters compressed horizontally for a sleek aesthetic and efficient use of space. The report header and footer also feature placeholders, letting you select from predefined values or insert your custom text.

Now, for the functionality enthusiasts, there's a world of customization in the functional aspects of reports. You can cherry-pick ManageWP tools to include in your report and delve deeper by selecting the level of detail you desire. For instance, when showcasing updates or security scans, you have the flexibility to include all details for the report's timeframe or opt for a more concise overview, featuring only the last 5 or 10 updates. Beyond actions within the ManageWP dashboard, additional options come into play. You can integrate WooCommerce reports, or leverage Custom Work Notes by importing a CSV file containing tasks executed outside ManageWP and even automatically translate client reports you send out to your clients’ native language. Its customization is tailored to your style (or language), making report creation a breeze!

TemplateMonster: The white-labeling feature is beneficial to agencies. Using ManageWP's white-labeling functionality, how can users maintain a professional image while customizing their client-facing interfaces?

Predrag Zdravkovic: You might not always want your clients to know what you are using to manage their websites and there is no harm in that! It's all about maintaining that sleek, professional touch and the White Label tool is here to help agencies keep their management efforts under wraps. Users can take it a step further by completely rebranding our Worker plugin to seamlessly align with their branding, or if discretion is the aim, they can completely hide it from wp-admin, making it our little secret.

However, the White Label tool goes beyond the surface, offering practical features that benefit those with clients navigating the website backend sans tech-savvy skills. For instance, you can play it safe by disabling user actions like plugins and theme updates. Clients won't see or have the ability to perform updates, but you can still manage it all from your ManageWP dashboard and be sure your clients don't accidentally mess up your hard work. 

The White Label tool also introduces a nifty Support tab directly in wp-admin, providing a dedicated channel for clients to contact you with ease. This not only streamlines client communication but also adds a professional touch to your brand's presence in the backend. All in all, effortlessly showcasing your brand in the website backend, coupled with a built-in communication solution, is a surefire way to impress clients and command the rates you truly deserve.

TemplateMonster: ManageWP mentions a range of other features. Please provide a glimpse of some noteworthy features on the ManageWP features page, both free and premium.

Predrag Zdravkovic: There are more than 20 tools available, where to start? 🙂 There are a few I consider to be essential for all WordPress professionals, and I have a feeling some of them might be underappreciated at times. 

My personal favorite is the Maintenance Mode. This is essentially a built-in, remote-controlled, and beautifully designed page signaling your website visitors that the website is undergoing temporary work. There are two out-of-the-box templates, a Coming Soon page, and a Website Under Maintenance, but for the HTML-savvy, customization options are endless (and you can save your designs as templates for future use). What sets it apart is the ability to selectively display the maintenance mode, handy when you want certain user roles to be privy to the ongoing tweaks. 

Another tool that doesn't get enough attention is the Code Snippet tool. Keep in mind this one is recommended for advanced users who are on a first-name basis with PHP and are comfortable executing code snippets to extend the functionality of their websites whilst keeping resource usage to a minimum. You have complete freedom to write your snippets and have a full history of all you executed in the past, making it easier to reuse them instead of typing them from scratch. 

The last one I believe almost everyone can benefit from is Template Builder. Everyone has their favorite set of themes and plugins they frequently use on client websites and starting the process from scratch, doing dull and repetitive tasks is so 2015… Having several templates you can quickly deploy to new websites and use as a starting point is the way to go.  Even more when you know you don’t have to revise them every time your favorite plugin gets an update, because Template Builder has the option to automatically deploy the last available version. Just like Maintenance mode and Code Snippet, the Template Builder is completely free to use on all websites. 

TemplateMonster: How does ManageWP ensure scalability, and are there optimization features or best practices to maintain optimal performance as the number of managed websites grows?Predrag Zdravkovic: ManageWP, designed by WordPress professionals for WordPress professionals, offers a centralized dashboard with collaboration features that are geared towards increasing agency efficiency. Beyond the obvious advantages, it's the thoughtful details that play a pivotal role in scaling operations. Leveraging tags and filters makes navigating through a multitude of websites a breeze. Streamlining workflows via bulk actions and automations empowers efficient delegation of repetitive tasks. Templates for swift deployment of new websites, remote code execution, and automatically generated reports provide the infrastructure for seamless portfolio growth. This means more bandwidth to handle more new projects, expand your portfolios, and attract new clients.

WP Umbrella presented by Aurelio Volle

Aurelio Volle is the CEO and co-founder of WP Umbrella, a platform designed to manage multiple WordPress sites from a single dashboard.

TemplateMonster: With WP Umbrella, you can manage multiple WordPress sites seamlessly. Are there any key features and functionalities that make WP Umbrella a go-to platform for WordPress maintenance agencies and freelancers?

Aurelio Volle: WP Umbrella excels in streamlining WordPress management, earning the trust of maintenance agencies and freelancers alike. Key features include real-time monitoring and performance analytics for optimal site health and speed, a centralized dashboard for managing updates, plugins, and uptime, and a one-click management system for efficient task handling. Additionally, our automated backups and comprehensive client reporting tools are highly valued by our users.

TemplateMonster: Are there specific tools or features within WP Umbrella that target challenges such as updates, backups, or security for multiple sites?

Aurelio Volle: Precisely! WP Umbrella performs daily backups for tens of thousands of websites and conducts vulnerability scans every 6 hours. Our bulk management feature streamlines WordPress maintenance routine, providing users with everything they need in one efficient tool.

TemplateMonster: Multisite management is a key feature. How does WP Umbrella ensure efficiency and user-friendliness in navigating and controlling multiple WordPress sites simultaneously?

Aurelio Volle: Our intuitive dashboard enables users to effortlessly manage and maintain hundreds of websites from a unified interface, ensuring efficiency and ease of use in multisite management.

TemplateMonster: How does WP Umbrella stay updated with the latest WordPress developments and adapt to changes in the WordPress ecosystem?

Aurelio Volle: WP Umbrella adheres strictly to WordPress guidelines to ensure full CMS compatibility. We actively engage with the WordPress community by sponsoring and attending WordCamp, following TheWPWeekly, and participating in WordPress-related Slack communities.

TemplateMonster: How does WP Umbrella gather and incorporate user feedback into its development process? Can you share instances where user feedback has directly influenced the introduction of new features or improvements in WP Umbrella?

Aurelio Volle: WP Umbrella is developed transparently, with user feedback playing a crucial role in shaping our public roadmap. This collaborative approach ensures that our plugin development strategy aligns with our users' needs and expectations.

TemplateMonster: Integration with other tools is crucial for workflow efficiency. How does WP Umbrella integrate with other WordPress tools or third-party applications to enhance users' overall experience?

WP Umbrella boasts wide-ranging compatibility with nearly all available plugins, enabling seamless updates. Our specialized integrations with cache plugins like WP Rocket, Nitropack, Breeze, and others automate cache clearing post-update, significantly streamlining workflows for agencies.

Main WP presented by Marc Benzakein

Marc is a seasoned WordPress marketer with over a decade of experience, known for his ability to deeply understand companies and their products, crafting unique marketing messages that drive growth, and leveraging his extensive network within the WordPress Community to build successful businesses.

TemplateMonster: What features or practices make MainWP secure and private? How does it prioritize user privacy?

Marc Benzakein: MainWP ensures security and privacy through several key features and practices. It is a self-hosted solution, meaning user data is stored on their servers, enhancing control over data privacy. MainWP's open-source nature allows for full auditability, ensuring no personal information about child sites is tracked or kept. Additionally, MainWP does not collect personal information from its Child Plugin, guaranteeing that client data remains private and not sent to other countries, thereby complying with international privacy laws like GDPR. This approach prioritizes user privacy by limiting data exposure and transfer​​.

TemplateMonster: Having a self-hosted dashboard is a unique concept. What advantages does MainWP's approach have for managing multiple WordPress sites, and how does it enhance user control and customization?

Marc Benzakein: MainWP's self-hosted dashboard approach offers several advantages in managing multiple WordPress sites. It ensures enhanced security and privacy by storing data on the user's server, minimizing certain risks that might come with some SaaS models. This self-hosting aspect also allows users to choose their preferred hosting provider, offering more options and flexibility. It provides greater control and customization in the management environment, enabling users to tailor the dashboard according to their specific needs and preferences. This autonomy over data and management choices is a significant benefit of MainWP's approach​​.

TemplateMonster: Unlimited control over WordPress sites is an excellent thing to have. With many WordPress sites under management, how does MainWP ensure scalability and performance?

Marc Benzakein: MainWP excels in managing multiple WordPress sites by offering a centralized, efficient dashboard that streamlines site updates, plugin and theme management, and content control. Robust backup functionalities and extensions for diverse needs, including SEO and security enhancements underpin its scalability. The platform's uptime monitoring and performance analytics tools, such as integration with Google Lighthouse, ensure high site reliability and operational efficiency. This comprehensive suite of features, coupled with the ease of managing user roles and the flexibility of free and premium extensions, positions MainWP as a highly effective and scalable solution for WordPress site management​​​​​​. Of course, scalability is a two-part consideration; the second being that of your host and how much power it has to handle requests. We have several customers who manage hundreds of sites without issue. As a general rule, if a typical WordPress site runs to your satisfaction, you will not have issues with the performance of a MainWP Dashboard.

TemplateMonster: Can you provide insights into how MainWP ensures compatibility with diverse plugins, themes, and configurations during updates?

Marc Benzakein: We did not reinvent the wheel, we simply triggered the WP Core built-in update mechanisms and WP Core handles the job. This way, we can ensure the compatibility required to maintain full functionality.

TemplateMonster: What does MainWP do for internationalization and multilingual support? Do you have any features or considerations for managing sites in different languages? 

Marc Benzakein: MainWP has implemented multilingual support by localizing both the MainWP Dashboard and Child plugins. This feature allows users to translate the interface into various languages, catering to the needs of those managing sites in different linguistic contexts. The localization process is community-driven, with translations contributed by MainWP users globally. This approach enhances user experience across diverse language groups and broadens the accessibility of MainWP's WordPress management tools on an international scale​​.

TemplateMonster: How does MainWP plan to stay at the forefront of WordPress management and meet the evolving needs of its user community?

Marc Benzakein: We are constantly looking at new and innovative ways to remain the go-to solution for WordPress Dashboard Management. We have been consistently and frequently pushing out updates, creating educational video and written content that is not just limited to MainWP but also other important subjects such as security and data privacy, and building partnerships with other companies that will help to enhance our feature set giving our customers more and more efficient control over their management. Further, we've recently announced the coming release of Version 5 which will take WordPress Dashboard Management to a level not seen before. The key to our progress is listening to what the WordPress Community wants and needs and building it into our ecosystem.  Our team is agile, and this allows us to alter our direction as needed if and when demands shift. 

In the End,

As we wrap up our conversation with Predrag Zdravkovic, Aurelio Volle, and Marc Benzakein, it's obvious that they're passionate about simplifying WordPress management and driving growth through strategic marketing. Their stories show how dedication and innovation are key to succeeding in an ever-evolving digital landscape. We hope you enjoyed this peek into the minds of Monster's Award winners, and that their experiences will inspire your WordPress journey. Check back for more insights and stories from Monster's Award winners.

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