Expert Speaks: In Conversation with Anoop Ranawat, CTO at EssentialPlugins

Today, on ‘Expert Speaks‘, we have Anoop Ranawat, CTO at Essential Plugin

We are indeed grateful to Anoop, for making time to answer our questions and enlighten us with his thoughts and opinions.

You would definitely love reading his fun-filled informative answers, Here it goes…

Hello Anoop, Welcome to LearnWoo, Give our readers an introduction to your journey & experiences so far with WordPress?

Hi, Thanks for your warm invitation.

My name is Anoop and I have done Computer Engineering in Bangalore & after completing my graduation, I started my new job as well as started learning and exploring WordPress. I was a little bit disappointed with my job as I was not getting paid enough. But I made myself think, “One day you can achieve it”. On that day I promised myself that I will learn WordPress by myself.

I have been working there for 5 years and make their company profitable with a number of WordPress plugins.

I left the job there and joined Two years after joining, I became the CTO of Essential Plugin company and I still love WordPress.

As a WordPress developer, speed or quality of implementation? What was your focus when creating the source code for different WordPress development projects?

Well, good question. As a coder, I always focused on quality of work and I believe in that also.

When I started my career in WordPress, I always referred to standard WordPress plugins like WooCommerce, JetPack, Easy Digital Downloads, my special one, etc. How they are providing functionalities, user flow, and easy-to-understand code. I am always inspired by them and focused on quality work.

I suggest all the developers should go for quality work.

What keeps you busy outside WordPress?

I love to read books, and blogs and getting to know about new gadgets. I do try to keep my weekends open for family and friends.

Tell us something about a few plugins or products which you think are well built and you would aspire to be a part of their development process?

Yes, there are many plugins that I liked but one of my favorite plugins is Easy Digital Downloads. This plugin and its creator Pippin Williamson have inspired me a lot.

Pippin is always a role model for me.

I voluntarily reply to the support question of EDD on I report bugs and provide patches for them on Github. I always wanted to be part of the EDD family.

In the Essential plugin’s current stage of growth, what are the top challenges to deal with?

EssentialPlugin is one of the top 100 WordPress brands. We have 20000+ Active Clients & 4,00,000+ Active Installs of our free plugins worldwide. So, there are many challenges to deal with! Cultivating company culture, Process of Work, Process of Plugin Support and the main one is hiring the most talented people out there.

Also, one of the big challenges is to keep motivated the team for product development and make them feel about the product from the end-user perspective. This is how best things are made.

But we are passionately working through and dealing with each and every aspect of them to handle our scale, growth, and smooth process.

As a CTO how have you defined being successful, and how are you staying self-motivated with the least distractions?

In my point of view, I measure success ratio as the number of products sold and a number of refund requests you get.

I am inspired by any WordPress companies that have found success by staying small. I firmly believe that with smart work, you can be successful without developing a large team.

I read WordPress blogs regularly to keep myself motivated and especially acquisitions around WordPress.

Which eCommerce platform would you suggest for small and medium-sized businesses? Is there anything that WordPress-related eCommerce platforms bring to the table compared to alternative options like Shopify?

I would suggest Easy Digital Downloads for digital products, and I would suggest WooCommerce for physical products.

WooCommerce is the most versatile, customizable, and flexible eCommerce plugin. It’s been around much longer and is more widely used as a platform than Shopify. It means that the number of templates, plugins, and integrations for the platform is much bigger than what’s available for Shopify.

Additionally, the open-source nature of the platform and the fact that you have total control over your own hosting means that WordPress can be manipulated to create bespoke websites more easily than Shopify.

As far as we know, you worked with different people & teams. So, what have you learned from working in a different kind of team?

I have worked in the plugin business with different people, and these experiences have significantly shaped me.

Each person shows a product from a different angle. In the weekly agenda, we always discuss each and every angle, think according to user perspective, and implement the product.

Most importantly, being able to imagine the problem from all of those perspectives has helped me grow in empathy and understanding.

How do you personally learn to be more inclusive? What’s an example of a situation in which these learnings have changed the way you do your job?

We all know the WordPress plugin market is a competitive market. I always check our competitors’ products, their product forums, and support forums and try to understand exactly what users want.

As I told you earlier, each person shows a product from a different angle. The best example of this is WordPress, Initially, it is created for blogging and users are using it for websites.

So we always think from the user perspective and try to come up with the best thing.

If you prefer to delegate tasks without getting involved, how do you measure performance and progress?

We do weekly meetings and bring our agenda to the table. We use Basecamp as a project management tool which helps us keep all agendas on track.

In weekly meetings, we analyze our product support tickets so we can understand the user’s pain points and also the number of answers given by the agent to solve them. I always motivate the team with one response ticket resolution.

How do you ensure the quality of the deliverables, especially on WordPress and WooCommerce platforms? Your tips will help emerging talents.

We use Bitbucket for our code repository so we can easily keep the log of each and every code change done by the team member. These code changes are monitored by our project management person.

We always check our plugins with the latest as well as later versions of WordPress to ensure compatibility.

We refer to WordPress codex and its standard so we can maintain the latest standard and security protocol in our products like escaping, sanitize, security nonce, etc.

Reading the WordPress codex is the best way to keep yourself informed.

Also, you can ask the Slack channel of WordPress. They are always ready to help you.

Do you have anything to share with those who have just started out on your path? What should be the primary focus and how to grow?

Passion, Passion, and Trust in your Work. Success is not overnight but one day definitely.


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