Viacheslav Oblan: CMS Development Lead at Windmill

Inside Windmill’s CMS Department: Building Excellence with Viacheslav Oblan

Windmill Editorial Team
  • Technology

In this edition of Windmill Experts, we spoke with the head of Windmill’s CMS development department, Viacheslav Oblan. We discussed the factors that make Windmill-built websites functional as well as looking great; and what keeps the CMS department a well-oiled machine, among other things.

What kind of projects do you usually work on?

Viacheslav Oblan: We build great websites. When Windmill builds a web app or mobile app, it usually needs a business website to be presented for potential clients, so we do that. We usually work with CMS WordPress but have experience with other CMS platforms. Also, we work on projects for the e-commerce sector.

What role does the CMS department play in enhancing the Windmill website?

VO: Actually, we built it and we continue to support the website. We develop new features, update existing features, make improvements, and fully support the website. We also work closely with the marketing team to achieve marketing goals.

What are some key technologies used by the CMS department?

VO: We usually work with HTML, CSS, SASS, JavaScript, PHP, and different CMS platforms, and we are familiar with web animation (we use Greensock.js, Three.js). We usually use Github actions or Bitbucket pipelines for code deployment from a git repository; it is flexible and lets us automate many things. For accurate QA results, we use not only real devices but also Browserstack, which helps us check our implemented features on all possible devices, OS, and platforms, even if we don’t have a specific device physically.

What is the best way to build great websites?

VO: In my opinion, the key point is striving for perfect quality. We use modern approaches and technologies in web development but the details and responsibility of each team member to what he or she does are very important. On the development step, we think about how the site will be used in business, creating correct architecture so it is easy to use and easy to support. Of course, we should aim to create perfect code and pay close attention to quality assurance.

What do fresh graduates need to be aware of when pursuing a career in your field?

VO: I really appreciate people’s expertise. Everyone working in CMS development should strive to become an expert in a specific area. A person can then increase their areas of expertise and gain additional skills, but the key point is to start with a deep understanding of something. Don’t try to be everywhere and know everything from the start. So, my advice is to try to focus on something that you love and become an expert in this area.

How do you see the future of CMS development? Will the rise of mobile-first browsing or other technological advancements impact your work? 

VO: A “mobile first” approach is not something new for us in building responsive layouts. High performance and quick server responses are needed to ensure phone users will not wait long when the website is loaded. These standards are constantly increasing. I think CMS platforms will live and grow, transforming into different solutions. For example, it was popular recently to use SAAS products, e.g., Shopify. The main goal of a CMS is to make an admin’s life easier and let them work with the website without any specific knowledge in programming, so everyone needs one.

Have you observed any trends in terms of what clients are demanding of late? 

VO: Previously, we have done many things with the “scroll snap” effect (full-screen scrolling) and it looks like the popularity of this feature is coming back. We even have our own small product for this feature implementation and we plan to release this JavaScript library soon so everybody can use it.

It has become very popular to use the Hubspot CMS for building landing pages. We can have the main website in WordPress, for example, but build specific landing pages in Hubspot. It is a powerful solution for the marketing team.

For all our websites, we work with our great design team and get clear requirements from the design department about the animations and any UI components.

What factors make the CMS department at Windmill stand out in terms of its quality and efficiency?

VO: First of all, these are the people who work in my team. Each of them is a professional in their field, loves their job, and aims to do their job as well as possible. In addition, they are wonderful people and we have friendly relations with everyone; we easily find a common language.

Another very important point is the process.

In our CMS team, the process of working with a project is very strict but understandable. Each member of my team follows this process impeccably, which allows us to automate many tasks, set short-term and long-term priorities for several projects for each team member, change priorities if necessary quickly and without wasting time for additional communication and discussion and without sacrificing productivity.

Our process allows me not only to control the quality of work and to help my team (as a technical leader) in time but also to own the actual and detailed information about each of the projects that we do, build the correct roadmaps, plan the delivery of functionality, and correctly allocate the resources of our team depending on the priority of projects (like a project manager on some projects).

Then, when we start any project, we estimate it first. The goal is not only to know how many hours we will spend on a particular feature, but to figure out all possible issues and unclear aspects before we start development. This helps reduce the count of risked points and positions us to take a proper architecture decision from the start.

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