This week I had the opportunity to talk with Munir Kamal. Munir is the owner of CakeWP where he provides templates for both Divi and Elementor and discusses WordPress for all audiences including beginners and advanced users.
I sent Munir a list of questions about WordPress and developing with Divi and Elementor. Munir quickly responded with detailed answers and we have that Q/A for you here today. So, here for your enjoyment is the Munir Kamal interview!
1. How long have you been developing for WordPress and how did you get started?
I started with WordPress in 2010. Actually, that is the start of my new career as a developer overall. I had been working as an Accountant before that but I always had interest in computers and programming due to my good friend Essa Mamdani.
I got a chance to jump into development with him. He taught me from scratch and then we started looking at WordPress. The moment I first used WordPress that captured my whole attention and I got more involved with WordPress-specific development. Since then I have mostly focused on WordPress development.
I started designing recently in 2016 by accident. I designed a layout for Divi & Elementor and pushed it to both specific Facebook groups. When I got great feedback and appreciation, and people liked it, I felt I could design and since then I have designed and created many layouts and child themes for Divi and Elementor.
2. Facebook has a large WordPress community and is a great way to get feedback and help others. What are your favorite Facebook Groups for WordPress?
I am mostly a silent member. I normally don’t get too much active in most of the groups but here are the groups I follow regularly:
- Advanced WordPress Group
- Divi Theme Users & Elegant Marketplace
- Elementors Community
- Elementors Marketplace Group
- OceanWP Community
3. How do you approach an idea for a new product?
Currently I am focused on developing only Divi and Elementor related products. I keep my eyes on what people are having difficulty with creating something in, or what is missing in there from the discussions I follow in the groups mentioned, and then I do my further research and come up with a good solution or product.
As an example, my latest Divi plugin, Hover Portfolio Module, is an extension to the default Divi portfolio modules with some great hover effects. I came up with this idea as I notice a lot of people felt that the default portfolio module is pretty basic and people like to have interactive effects, so I developed it.
4. What are some of your favorite tools?
For designing I use Sketch app because of the fact I am mac user and Sketch is so easy to use and less cluttered with complex tools when compare to Photoshop. It’s intuitive and powerful enough to do the job I’m after with ease.
For coding I use Sublime because it’s light weight and powerful enough, and as similar to my favorite design app. This is also less cluttered with useless tools and options.
For communication I use Skype because most of the normal users and clients usually use it; otherwise I love slack.
For WordPress projects I am all focused now with Divi, Elementor & OceanWP depending on the client requests and requirements.
5. You have a lot of products on Elegant Marketplace. What are your most popular products and what makes them popular?
I have some freebie layouts, and some child themes and layout packs as well as 2 Divi plugins at the moment. The most interesting one and the most popular yet is the Divi Before After Slider plugin. This is a unique module which allows users to showcase the before and after images in an intuitive way. It has been well-liked by Divi users so far.
6. Which is your favorite?
My Favorite is definitely all products I have, but the latest Divi plugin, Hover Portfolio, really gives the Divi portfolio a new look and interactivity which is really cool.
7. Do you get a lot of requests for certain designs and features?
Yeah, I get requests for variety of niche and different styles but not a certain specific feature really. Some want a non-profit landing page, some need an interactive portfolio, some need a certain add-on plugin, etc.
8. You have layouts for both Divi and Elementor. Is your development process the same for both? Is it easy to move from one to the other?
I design first in Sketch, keeping in mind the limitations in both tools, and then I start creating it in both Divi and Elementor (picking any one first). So yes the development process is same for both.
9. Are there features in one builder that you’d like to see in the other?
Yes. The most important feature in Elementor is its flexible column structure. We may have up to 10 columns and it has a column module as well which we may insert within any column, so that means nested columns are possible, and also we may adjust the width of each column easily in Elementor. This main feature is surely missing in Divi and is really a must-needed feature in my opinion. There may be other pluses and minuses in both tools but the flexible column structure is the base of the design really.
10. You built the multi-site Divi/Elementor on ElegantMarketplace.co. Can you tell us about that?
Yeah that’s a nice experiment. Basically, I have been noticing that some people often come up with questions in FB groups like:
- Does the latest Divi version break anything?
- New users looking toward Divi or Elementor have many pre-sale questions about how Divi and Elementor work and other things they need to know before they make a purchase.
- If a certain add-on plugin works well or how it does certain things.
So with things like this being discussed in the groups, I came-up with the idea to allow them to quickly create a sandbox website. With just literally 1 or 2 steps the sandbox website is created, bundled with the specific tool they opt for, and they can play around with it all online without having to worry about local development environment or setting up all those things on a test server. And best of all it’s 100% FREE (Thanks to EMP).
You can visit the sandbox at ElegantMarketplace.co.
11. Let’s talk about Divi Cloud. You have some layouts in the cloud package. What do you have available in Divi Cloud and can we expect to see more from you?
I literally love the idea of Divi Cloud overall and I can see over time this is getting huge and priceless for the users with a membership. I currently have 3 layouts there, which can be seen on the top (currently) at the Divi United layouts page. And I am planning more layouts and layout packs to be added to Divi Cloud over time as this is a great opportunity being a layout designer/developer, to be honest.
12. What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a premium Divi Layout Pack for Medical/Clinic and also some free layouts as well. I am also working on a couple of Divi plugins in continuation to my latest Hover Portfolio plugin. Keep an eye on my products page at EMP as I have a lot more to come.
13. Do you have any tips for someone getting started in WordPress development?
If someone needs to get started with WordPress development the most important things are you must first learn at least HTML, CSS, and the basics of JS and PHP. I have seen people fail because they jump directly toward WordPress development thinking it is an all-in-all drag & drop CMS.
Also, don’t get lost with some invaluable content available over the internet which is outdated and coming from a noob himself. Always get started with a proper learning resource/tutorial from some renowned site or group. This may be a good starting point to pick a tutorial or learning resource from this huge awesome list at GitHub by Sindre Sorhus.
First, I’d like to say a special thank you to Munir for what he’s done for the WordPress community and for putting up with all of my questions. He was very kind and gracious with his time, and a great person to talk to. He’s very knowledgeable and has a passion for WordPress, and that passion shows in his work.
Munir has provided us with excellent advice on getting started, choosing tools, insights on his design process, listening to the needs of the community and choosing a project, some of his most visited Facebook groups, and a quick description of his most popular and favorite projects. I know he has a lot more in the works and I’m looking forward to seeing more of his child themes, layouts, plugins, and tutorials.