An Interview With Paul Lacey Of Dickiebirds Studio, talking WordPress, GeneratePress & More.

I don’t often do interviews full stop, here on LyrWP or in my blogging life. I felt compelled to this time.

As I’ve kind of got a love affair with GeneratePress, I reached out to the people behind the design of the main GeneratePress website.

So I thought I’d ask and see if they’d like to be interviewed, guess what? They did.


Can you tell me more about you and of course about Dickiebirds, how it came to be and what services you offer?

Paul Lacey of Dickiebirds studio
Paul Lacey of Dickiebirds studio

How we came about? Ooh… that’s a long story! The name is based on the nursery rhyme Two Little Dickiebirds – because my name is Paul and my co-founder is Peter 😉

I’ve talked about this a lot on Podcasts in terms of how we got started. Lee Jackson of The Agency Trailblazer Podcast did a great interview with me about this, the discussion is here.

Our area of expertise is User Experience Design & WordPress. We’re working on the UX side with some really awesome clients like Jaguar LandRover, and more recently Nissan.

We get to dive in really deep in UX with those clients. On the WordPress front, we’re focused on partnering with other agencies and designers to help them deliver better websites for their clients.

So we’re a bit like a white-label agency, but we go a bit deeper with the agencies and partners we work with to help them improve their own offering through our expertise.

We’re really enjoying getting into online sales funnels & conversion rate optimisation recently – it’s enabling us to make much more of a difference to the clients we work with.

Our UVP: We design goal focused websites on converting visitors into subscribers, fans, customers & advocates.


What makes you uniquely different from other UK based WordPress agencies?

dickiebirds Studio
Paul’s company the Dickiebirds Studio

Ah… well what makes all agencies unique is the people. So in our case, we’re really invested in getting involved in the community (agency community & WordPress community) and giving back as much as we can.

That might be sharing knowledge on Podcasts, speaking at events, donating money & supporting community causes & charities.

One thing as an agency we are really passionate about is mental health in the industry. This industry is suffering right now. A lot of people are overwhelmed, lacking direction and burned out.

We’re doing our bit to share our own stories and experiences of this, and in doing so making others realise it really is OK not to be OK.

Check out our latest interview covering this issue on the WP&UP Podcast.

We’re certainly not all about money, and seriously… if you are all about money, then other industries will give you far better odds of financial success if that’s what you want 😉

We have a purpose of making a difference to the community, our families and of course our clients. That’s what makes us unique, the people and our aim.


How did you get started with WordPress?

Back in 2005, I was playing around with different Content Management Systems to replace my own bespoke system that I had created. Before WordPress, I’d experimented with Mambo (which later forked to Joomla), and also a pretty lovely little CMS called TextPattern.

I found WordPress (which was pretty basic back then), but it was reasonably easy to theme & customise – and that was that!

How did you come across GeneratePress?

So I was using Divi for client sites, and… I quite liked it. In fact, I loved it for a while.

After some time I started to get frustrated with certain shortcomings. In fact, the main reason I found GeneratePress was because I wanted a theme that I could use the Divi Builder plugin with that also had a header widget – that was it!

I was moving away from Divi, and GeneratePress solved that short term “header widget” need. At the same time, I was also starting to work with the Genesis Framework, and I saw Genesis as the superior system to both GeneratePress & Divi.

However, after about 6 months of working with GeneratePress, I realised that this theme I bought for $30 lifetime license was, in fact, capable of everything I wanted from Genesis Framework, but was developing faster and in a way more relevant roadmap for modern WordPress website design & development.

So, I decided to go all in on GeneratePress.

Confession time…For some reason, I had this preoccupation that being a Genesis developer would give me some kind of unique credibility. Funny what one’s ego can do to cloud judgement 🙂

Yep – I aspired to be some kind of Genesis influencer lol!

But back to GeneratePress…I’m so happy I found this theme, joined its community and where that ultimately led with our involvement with the theme itself, the icons, the Site Library and the GeneratePress website itself.

It’s the theme that just keeps giving for us! It’s so amazingly versatile. It’s fantastic for super simple websites, non-coders, working with a page builder, and it’s great for hardcore developers too. #generatepress

How has using GeneratePress benefited you as a developer and your workflow?

Oh wow, GeneratePress has been an absolute game changer, and it continues to evolve. Here’s why it’s fantastic:

The developer, Tom Usborne, has a philosophy. He’s all about stability and sustainability…mixed in with cutting edge innovation. He won’t just add some random flavour of the month feature, and he’s absolutely obsessed with smooth upgrades for all the users.

As a developer, it has all the PHP hooks and filters you could ever want. It’s accessibility-ready, secure…and one of the fastest loading frameworks you’ll find.

Right now we’re using InstantIDE by Cobalt Apps (Eric Hamm, the developer – legend!!!) to implement SASS CSS into our projects with GeneratePress.

It’s exciting times, it’s making everything so modularised and efficient – and shows how extendable the GeneratePress theme really is if you want to take it that far.


What advice would you give to someone else looking into starting their own design service?

Well, I’ve started out 3 times nowliterally hit the reset button twice. I’ve still not figured out the complete winning formula, however…as cheesy as this might sound…it really is about the journey.

If you are starting out right now, then figure out your “why,” find supportive communities to help you and to contribute to, and most of all… don’t undervalue yourself or be intimidated by how great all your peers “appear” to be doing.

And, read (or listen to) The E-Myth Re-visitedit could save you YEARS of misdirection.


If there’s one thing you would change when you first started out what would it be?

Well, it didn’t exist back then…but it does now… so I’d enrol in WP Elevation. WP Elevation is a business community for WordPress consultants, offering advice and help on attracting new customers etc.


What are your go-to plugins for WordPress?

Well… gotta be GeneratePress Premium 😉

Page builder

Beaver Builder

Custom fields & extending WordPress capabilities

Advanced Custom Fields Pro & Pods.

Dev tools

Themer Pro & Instant IDE (By Cobalt Apps).

Performance

WP Rocket & Smush Pro.

Security

Malcare, WebArx, iThemes Security Pro.

And… anything by Tom Usborne (GeneratePress) or Eric Hamm (Cobalt Apps). There are so many more awesome plugins. It’s a great time to be working with WordPress.


What’s a typical working week for you?

Oh man…there really isn’t a typical week. Each is different from the last. I literally can’t answer that with any honesty.


Is there one particular website you’ve built that’s the jewel in your crown (or proud of the most)

Yeah for sure. https://generatepress.com A jewel in the crown is the word! We’re so damn proud of our involvement designing this website.

We also wanted to give back through this project. There’s a fun story about that here.


Everyone makes mistakes, what’s your biggest one?

For 10 years of business, I barely interacted in any peer communities. In the last 2 years, I dived deep into the community, and it changed my whole business. So my biggest mistake as a business owner was being so boxed in on myself for a decade.


Thank you Paul!

I’m sure you will agree Paul has made an excellent candidate for my first ever interview. I cannot thank him enough to tell it like it is and offer insight in not only his business but his experiences with WordPress.

If you’d like to find out more about the DickieBirds Studio and view some of their works please do take a look at their portfolio here.

Want to get in touch with Paul? Maybe discuss a new project you’re thinking of? Get in touch via email here.

Why not follow Paul on Twitter? Or if you like a YouTube video or two, check out some of his tutorials here.

Want to be next on my new interviews section? Well if you do, get in touch on my contact page, and let’s see what happens.

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