Olivier Turbis is the founder/owner of SkinBox which offers styles for IPB (and a small selection for vBulletin). He kindly agreed to an interview with us.
Can you tell us a little about Olivier Turbis and Skinbox?
I am a 18 years old dude who loves a lot of things such as traveling, languages, cultures, designing, food, music, TV, and a lot more. I am determined. I like to think that things in life happen to you when you believe in them and make them happen.
How long have you been styling IPB/vB styles and how comfortable are you with the styling engine?
In late 2007, an online "friend" of mine saw one of my work with IPB and told me I should open some forum to sell my work. At that time, I didn't have the money to buy an IPB license nor to buy a hosting and all the stuff that comes with it... I was a kid with no money whatsoever. So he bought me a license, a hosting plan and a domain name. While I knew this person for something like one month, he believed in me so much that he spent a lot of money on me without even wanting me to pay him back. A very few people know this story. I am so grateful and thankful for what he did. So I created a forum called IPB Customize (ipbcustomize.com) and my main goal was to help people with their IP.Board offering tons (literally) of free tutorials and resources. I offered a lot of free skins as well. Some premade skins was on sale and I was doing some custom work as well - custom skins were $30!
Later on (October 2008), my premade skins were starting to sell pretty good and I wondered what to do next. I never imagined I could actually have a real business with this. So I hired a developer (because I'm far from being one!) and we started Skinbox. The development was long (10 months), but we wanted it to be perfect and I also wanted to be able to sell IPB 3 skins right when it opens - and that's what we did. Skinbox opened in July 2009 offering 6 IPB 3 skins and 23 IPB 2 skins. I have to say "leaving" IPB Customize for Skinbox was the best business move of my life so far.
What improvements would you like to see with the ipb styling engine?
Honestly, I think the IP.Board skinning system is the best I've ever seen in a software. It's perfect. We have all we need to customize it to the maximum and it is VERY easy to find what we're looking for. Everything is coded well as well and everything is clear (templates and CSS files). I wouldn't change anything or improve anything really.
Have you noticed an increase in IPB Style customers since vbulletin 4.0 gold was released and what kind effect has this had on your business?
Yes, of course. Since a lot of people converted (and are still converting) from vBulletin to IP.Board, the demand for IPB skin is higher.
Which is easier to skin for IPB or vBulletin?
IP.Board and it wins by far. The problem with vBulletin is that they built it for non-designer people - they made it "easy" to style for everyone with the stylevars. The problem is the fact that it's so easy to "style" (change colors) for "normal" people, it gets very hard for designers. Nearly impossible to create a much customized style. You have to edit every stylevars manually, the stylesheets, the templates, etc. Some elements are hard-coded as well, so you could edit 10 templates to remove that white line.
What Advice would you give to anyone thinking about getting into the IPB/vB styling business?
Don't steal and be nice with your competitors.
Is it a nightmare to constantly have to update styles when the software changes?
I would not say it's a nightmare, but sometimes it's certainly just sad because while we update the skins, we don't have time to create new ones. The real nightmare is when a huge update is applied, such as IPB 2 to IPB 3. When you have to actually remake the skins.
How do you like the development updates of IPB3?
I think they are just fine. What I like is that they add some nice features each time and that's awesome.
What is your opinion on vB4?
I know there have been a lot of drama with this but from a designer point of you, I just wish they could help the skinners a little bit more and make a stable software.
Can you give us an exclusive sneak peek at one of your upcoming designs (cheeky, we know!)?
Pretty tiny preview eh?
What do you do for fun?
These days, I don't have a lot of social life. I have a lot of work to do and I'm literally working days and nights. But normally, I like to be with my lover, just hang out with friends, travel, watch movies and read.
Can you share something with us that we don't already know?
I've lost 100 pounds.