Dieter Crombez is the 34-year-old Founder and Lead Developer behind the Belgian startup, SiteManager that’s changing traditional web design processes for professional web designers, developers and webmasters. The company’s web design management software is set to launch in Fall of 2015. I recently interviewed Dieter to find out more about SiteManager’s story and how its new offering may potentially become one of the best options to hit the international web design market.
Meet SiteManager, the Web Design Platform Company
SiteManager builds the next generation web design tools for professional designers, developers and webmasters. We are constantly improving and updating our platform to create better solutions and services. We believe in creating long-term relationships, growing together and treating our users like partners.
A Snapshot Profile of Dieter Crombez
Dieter Crombez is an experienced web developer who founded SiteManager in Ghent, Belgium in 2012 with Alexander Hoogewijs and Johannes Degroote. He is the web design company’s current lead developer. Crombez is married and has a two year old son. He loves Lego, board games, and PlayStation.
Education: Hogeschool Gent [University College Ghent], Belgium
Organisations founded: Divine Design and SiteManager
The Phresh Interview
Phil Rodriques (PR): What is your professional background?
Dieter Crombez (DC): During my senior year at college (2002) I started a small web design agency with a friend. I immediately fell in love with [Adobe] Flash and built one of the first content management systems (CMS) for that platform.
We had some local success and the pleasure to create some cool projects for our clients over the years.
In 2012, in the midst of the mobile revolution, I founded SiteManager together with Alexander Hoogewijs and Johannes Degroote.
PR: What are you truly passionate about?
DC: I love creating and developing. I am very grateful to live in an age where you can create almost anything that comes to mind (even with limited resources). I only do the things where I am very passionate about. I try to surround myself with like-minded people who have complementary skills and interests. I am very proud of our team.
PR: After building websites and systems for over a decade, why did you pivot to create SiteManager?
DC: We always liked sharing and collaborating with others, it is in our DNA. When we built the platform to make our agency more efficient, we knew we would eventually want to share it with the web design community.
PR: What have been some of the unexpected hurdles?
DC: We have a small team with the big ambition to create the future of custom web design. It is very challenging to attack all aspects (not only development) of our startup with only four people. So every day we face some unexpected hurdles. It is our power to always do what needs to be done and tackle the challenges as they present themselves.
PR: What makes this a better design management tool than those already out on the market?
DC: I believe we are different because we address the complete spectrum of web design. Not only design, but also development and content management are equally important. We start with the base of good web design practices and build our platform and tools around that. We don’t try to create a [Adobe] Photoshop for the web application. Instead we try to think what would be the best and most efficient way to design and develop a website.
PR: What makes it possible for users to be able to create professional websites and save up to 3-4 hours a day?
DC: We built three timesaving applications that seamlessly work together. When a designer creates the website layout it is instantly coded, responsive, CMS ready and developer friendly. We call it design that works. Developers no longer have to reinvent the wheel and do redundant work. They just make specific changes there where it is needed. We also have a neat back-end builder they can use for the CMS. The webmaster only has to focus on creating and editing content. The fact that all actors involved work on the same platform is a real timesaver. It also leads to a more efficient way of doing things.
PR: Is SiteManager designed specifically for webmasters, designers and developers or can anyone use it?
DC: We don’t believe everybody is a (web) designer and that everybody should focus on what they do best. Businesses who take themselves seriously will always need the support of professional designers, developers, and marketeers to build their online presence. A website is more than just some text and pictures you put online. We understand the specific needs of these professionals and build our tools for them. The CMS part is made for their (non-technical) clients who can easily edit and manage the website afterwards. They have no access to the design or develop application.
PR: You’ll be doing a period of beta-testing. When does the final version of SiteManager officially launch?
DC: There will be a period of private beta-testing followed by a public beta. The public beta will be released before the end of this year. I already consider the public beta to be a launch since everybody will be able to join. During this period our beta-testers will be rewarded for helping us with their feedback. When we feel the product is ready we will simply drop the beta-test status from the platform.
Our platform is in continuous development so there are no versions or things like that. It just naturally evolves over time.
PR: What are some of SiteManager’s milestones for the next six to 12 months?
DC: Our (beta) release of the platform is obviously the biggest one in the next six months.
Between that and 12 months our biggest challenge will be the growth of our start-up. My co-founder Alexander Hoogewijs is really good and passionate about these things. Business development, finding the right people, etc. I will continue to work on the platform and create some new features we have not announced yet. [Dieter smiles]
PR: What is SiteManager’s “ultimate goal” in five to 10 years?
DC: We hope we can grow together with our community and build the best and most complete platform for custom web design out there. With every update we will try to raise the scope of things you can do until “ultimately” there is no limit to what you can create, design or develop.
PR: What have been some of the unexpected successes?
DC: When we put our launch page online we were very curious how the international web design community would respond and if they would actually sign-up. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive and a lot of people are signing up every day.
PR: What aspects of SiteManager’s pursuits keep you up at night?
DC: I have a two-year old who keeps me and my wife up most nights anyway so there is that. When I wake up at night it’s mostly with a new idea that has something to do with our business one way or another. If it is a really good one I will try to write it down to make sure I don’t forget. It’s a very unbalanced experience. On the one hand you are very tired because of the long working days and pressure. On the other hand you are very excited and can’t wait to share the platform with the world.
PR: Is there anything else you would like to add?
DC: I would like to thank you, Phil, for taking the time for this interview. We really appreciate it. If people are interested I invite them to visit our website at www.SiteMNGR.com and sign up for our beta release.