About

Hi, my name is Chris. I'm a designer, front-end developer and entrepreneur. I've been working on the web for over a decade and still wake up excited each morning about the days work ahead. I live off-grid on a small farm just outside a small town called Hoekwil, in South Africa.

Why Devigner

The name Devigner is a mashup of the words Developer and Designer, as I practice both disciplines in equal measure. Design for its creative outlet and coding for the technical challenges it provides.

My career path

My career in tech started in 2001, when I was hired as a technical sales consultant for the sole distributor of Oracle software in region three, Africa. Myself and the other recruits were put through a rigorous six month technical bootcamp to familiarise ourselves with Oracles extensive product line. This was followed by three months specialised training in Zimbabwe. At my request I also completed an advance web design course at the University of Cape Town.

I learnt a lot during my time at Midafrica, but after three years and some changes in the companies core focus, I chose to broaden my horizons and moved to the UK on a two year visa. I spent the first year doing odd jobs, with everything from a door to door salesman for a local energy company, to installing cable in Oxfordshire.

At the beginning of my second year I launched an eBay trading company called AuctionTrader UK. - which after six months in business was upgraded to PowerSeller status. It was around this time that I built my first Joomla! site (then called Mambo) and discovered open-source.

A few months later I partnered up with my friend and former colleague, Andrew Neale, who was also in the UK. Andrew was the Sales Manager at Midafrica and we'd worked closely together while opening up a Cape Town branch. A few months after forming our partnership, we launched our second venture called NuVue Trading, which was an online store selling bulk label clothing to other eBay sellers.

When my two year visa ran out, Andrew and I made the decision to keep traveling, since all the work we were doing was online. So we moved to South America and ended up staying for two years, moving between Argentina and Brazil.

My path to product-maker

While the wholesale business was doing well, an unexpected by product of the site was that we were getting requests for web design work on an almost daily basis. As a result we shifted our focus to web design full time and formed Nomad Studios. Most of the clients we worked with were in the real-estate sector and we built everything from agency sites to full on for-sale-by-owner property portals, both in the UK and Bulgaria. We also worked with a client in Canada to build an interactive wedding registry service.

Having used Joomla extensively to build a bunch of client sites, we took the plunge into product development and launched JoomlaJunkie, selling commercial Joomla templates.

By the time our collection of templates got to thirty plus, we realised our development workflow was highly inefficient, with each template being a separate code base that had to be maintained. As such, we made the decision to abstract as much of the shared functionality into a separate framework, which we later called Morph.

Morph was both our greatest achievement at the time and our biggest failure. The product evolved into a robust set of tools, with the framework abstraction layer in the core template, an admin component to configure and customise all aspects of your site and a styles layer, similar to child-themes in WordPress. While the product was impressive and one of the first frameworks available for Joomla, it ended up taking all our focus and without the steady stream of new templates, the business began a downward spiral.

In 2011, Andrew (my business partner at the time) and I came to the realisation that we wanted different things from the business (me scale up and him scale down) and he made the decision to exit.

A few months later, Thierry Muller came on board as co-owner and CTO. Thierry is an amazingly talented developer and has the coding savvy of a Swiss banker, which is appropriate, since he hails from Switzerland.

Our working relationship and friendship started with me as mentor and him as student, but the roles have since switched, due to Thierry’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge and aptitude for coding.

In 2013 we launched our first WordPress venture, HeadwayRocket, where we create and sell add-ons that extend Headway, a visual site-builder for WordPress. Fast forward a few more years and we’re about to launch our second commercial WordPress venture, ThemeButler, aimed at people who build WordPress sites for a living (aka Developers).


Want to know more?

Check out my Resume or Random Facts.