A Look Behind The Scenes At Weglot – Interview with Augustin Prot

Weglot is the leading translation solution for websites built with WordPress, but being a SaaS they also support platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Ghost CMS, Webflow, or custom-built websites. Their approach is a very interesting one because it keeps the workload away from your server and rather relies on Weglot’s infrastructure to load the translations.

Just looking at Weglot’s customer list shows how far they have come in just a couple of years. They work with the likes of Sennheiser or Steve Madden and even power some websites run by Microsoft. Yes, that’s the Microsoft that sells Windows.

After Thomas Franchin from Weglot reached out to me and asked to be a sponsor for the WP Agency Summit, I was humbled and, of course, jumped at the opportunity. I mean, why would I not take the chance to work with such an exciting company?

They are not just supportive of the community (you can find all sorts of interesting interviews on their blog in the Community category) but they also provide a service that is much needed by hundreds of thousands of websites around the globe.

I’m happy that I got the chance to run some questions by Augustin Pro from Weglot during this collaboration. Without further ado, I want to share the interview with you below:

Jan: Weglot has first been released as a WP plugin in 2016. Where did the idea to build Weglot come from?

Augustin: The idea actually came out of a frustration Rémy Berda (co-founder and CTO of Weglot) experienced in his previous startup.
He was in charge of developing the website and for almost every technical challenge he faced there was a simple, easy to use solution:
– Payment → Stripe
– Email → Sendgrid
– Research → Algolia
– Hosting → AWS
Etc.

Jan: What did the early days of working on Weglot look like? How did it feel to reach the first 10k installs in roughly 1 year?

Augustin: It was amazing, we had the chance to have a continuous and growing flow of users, so we pretty much only focused on customer support and product improvement, prioritizing features and requests, make customers happy.

Jan: Why did you choose the SaaS approach over a native integration?

Augustin: Native integration is techno specific by nature and the vision of Weglot has always been a product any website could use, regardless if they’re using WordPress, another CMS or a custom website.
Plus, building an agnostic product allowed us to be more flexible when it comes to adding value in the translations management.
Finally, the SaaS approach forces you to always and quickly innovate & improve to keep providing value to your users and not see them churning.

Jan: Can you share one or two lessons you learned in growing Weglot to 15+ employees and 1bn translated pages?

Augustin: We learned a lot, that’s what’s amazing when building a product and a team. Two lessons that we learned, it might not apply to others:
– Launch fast: do not wait for the perfect product or timing or so, it does not exist. Instead, launch fast and iterate even faster
– Be focused on the problem you’re solving, do not spread too much  

Jan: You’ve built integrations for an impressive list of platforms. How do you stay on top of all the work that’s on your plate?

Augustin: Actually we have 3 different integrations covering all technologies, depending on needs:
– WordPress plugin for WordPress websites
– Shopify App for Shopify stores
– Subdomain integrations for any web application technology

Jan: Could you outline your development process? Do you use systems like Continuous Integration, unit testing, etc? What would you consider to be essential in your dev-ops to ensure high code quality?

Augustin: We’re using continuous integration and unit testing, as well as functional testing which is also very important.
Apart from using Continuous Integration, Unit and Functional Testing :). On the plugin itself, we’re applying the WordPress VIP coding standards.

Jan: If you were to build the business again, what mistakes you’ve learned would you avoid?

Augustin: Hire faster, we waited too long to hire our first lead developer. We’re not big fans of companies over hiring people, but we should have hired first people sooner.

Jan: Thank you, Augustin, for taking the time to do this interview with me and for supporting the WP Agency Summit!

On a side note, I have turned the WP Agency Summit into an evergreen event! That means, you can sign up to the summit right now and I’ll send you the sessions as if the event was going on live. In these hard times, bringing back the WP Agency Summit to be attended for free is my way of contributing to our community.

Simply head over to https://wpagencysummit.com and enter your email address. Even if you are already subscribed and attended the live event in December, you will have access again. Each session is online for 24h to be consumed for free – and you still can upgrade to lifetime access (I’ve also heavily discounted that price with respect to the strain Covid-19 puts on businesses these days).

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