Side Project Learning

Side projects are a great opportunity to focus on something specific and learn some things at the same time. Each project had different deliverables and things I wanted to learn. This is my experience and what I learned from each side project.

Print Theme

Print Theme for Tumblr

Always wanted to make a Tumblr theme. Finally I had the time to and an idea of a theme. Print Theme was born.

Experience with the Tumblr theme template language gave me the confidence to start with WordPress and other PHP CMS systems.

Writing a theme forces you to think of all the end-user mistakes possible and build something that can fail gracefully in any situation. I now write more thorough documentation to cover the (un)expected issues.

To inspire users to use the themes customisation features, I showcased some of the better Print Theme Customisations.

blackandwhitesquares.com

blackandwhitesquares was my place to explore finding and writing content and working on a sites SEO. Sourcing new content, collating sources, writing and making post rounds ups. Generally getting into a regular more disciplined writing habit.

Pivoting from my original focus of ‘everything QR codes’, I narrowed my focus to truly unique examples, rather than an incremental constant news feed of competing sites. This kept quality higher and lightened the effort required to maintain output of content.

Perhaps validating my focus on inspirational examples of QR codes, two posts: Mercedes Cars Safety Info Codes and Google Glass uses QR code during setup to sync featured in the popular curated #Tech tag with a surge in traffic.

The site never became huge by any standard but still receives 4 times more search traffic than my other web properties. So I fulfilled my personal objective.

Colordinates

Colordinates App

Colordinates was created as an excuse to use the Geolocation API.

This has been my most updated side project, as new APIs come along and GPS moves behind HTTPS for security. Since launch, I have gone on to include the Web App Manifest, Permissions API and Service Worker. I have added unit tests to ensure my code is bug free moving forwards.

Kirbytext

My first plugin, CodePen Kirbytext based on PHP, available on getkirby-plugins.com. My confidence to release this came from my previous side projects.

Using GitHub the way it is envisioned. My first experience with finding something open source that had not been updated and picking up the torch from someone else. It solved my use case and is out there now to help other Kirby 2 CMS users.

It requires thorough testing, as it is dependant on Kirby CMS updates and CodePen embed changes.

CodePen Demos

The lowest barrier to entry but to-date but my CodePen profile has provided the most exposure and visitors. Once I had my first project hit the Editors Picks, I was hooked. My top 5 projects have over 30,000+ views collectively and the most popular demo has 12,000+.

Demos that I would have once built, kept in a folder and referred back to once in a while can now gather thousands of views and my reposted blog posts there are becoming my largest source of traffic.

It took having the confidence to put myself out there and show my working in a much rawer form.

I aimed to make demos that could be useful to others, code that was well commented and understandable, provide searchable descriptions and tagging.

Whats next?

These projects are not the last, there is plenty more I want to focus on and learn as a result.

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