ASK DN: What's your side project(s)

9 years ago from , Director of User Experience

First story I read on DN this morning was about burnout:


Now I have never wanted to stop being a designer and go craft tables for a living or pour concrete (both of which would be gratifying for sure), but I have wanted to evolve, push the boundaries of my skill set, try something new or different and not have the constraints of my the job/position I was in.

A lot of the comments in the thread said, "you need a side project"... I'm a HUGE proponent of having side projects... it gives you that opportunity to work on an idea, try out a new language, basically remove any obstacles that you are encountering in the day to day grind, but mainly to keep your sanity and creativeness in tact.

This got me wondering... "What is everyone else's side project?"

Here are some of mine...


I've always wanted to get better at drawing characters in Illustrator, never had any training, but an artist friend of mine talked me through how to build simple characters... so I created some robots for my newborn son, and turned one of those characters into a logo for a friend: https://dribbble.com/shots/1027711-Robots

Bootstrap Illustrator Template

I love working with Bootstrap and found myself with a nice grid to base all my designs off of... I figured other people could use this so I posted a 2.x version that got a tiny bit of traction, so then I posted an update for 3.x. It's super gratifying when I get a retweet every once & a while from someone who has discovered it.



I love food. I love to cook. I love experimenting with food. I wanted to learn Rails, so I built this: http://savor.ly (it's a passion project... not perfect, design is not great, but I wrote 85% of the code myself, super proud of it)


This is a new project I'm working on, the site is a POC/Alpha that my buddy put together. We're getting ready to re-brand ( including a better name). Hoping to share more of this soon

What are YOU working on?


  • Jamie WilsonJamie Wilson, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    I never get tired of seeing everybody's side-projects. It's always really fun to see and it's super inspiring to know that people just want to create things for fun or to learn.

    I've got a couple of current side-projects and several ideas that I hope to jump into over the next couple of months:


    Chrome Bookmarking App, with a new version coming in a couple of weeks.

    Filter & Format

    Premium Stock Photos sold a limited number of times. We're thinking about changing up the pricing to $25 an image, each sold 25 times. Would love feedback on this!


    A Sublime Text theme and color scheme


    A font I made last year that I really want to add to. I've had tons of requests for diacritical characters and really hope to add those soon.

    Edited: because typography.

    6 points
  • Noah BuscherNoah Buscher, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )


    Meeet is a personal project to connect designers and developers to work on side projects. To me, building a side project to help create side projects is extremely rewarding.


    Flatron is a flat, simple, and beautiful theme for ST3.

    Of course, as I'm 14 (I rarely make this public, except in a few HN/DN comments), I don't have the worries of supporting a family, paying for insurance, and I don't even have to worry about college, and I feel very blessed because of that.

    To me, happiness is found in the little things. Building Meeet has been an extremely enriching hobby and I hope to continue building far into the future.

    Drew Wilson is a big inspiration for me, as his passion for making outdrives his thirst for money. It's about making a project you love, one that your happy to say you built, one that you think can make an impact.

    And by making an impact, I don't mean some world dominating social network or search engine, but something that can make a difference, nonetheless. Even if Meeet helps one project (it has!) come to fruition, all my work is worth it. Because I know I helped someone. That's the most rewarding experience that I've had.

    Another huge inspiration for me is Dale Partridge, as he shows it's possible to be creative, caring, intelligent, passionate, content, and spiritual all at the same time.

    6 points
    • Joseph FelicianoJoseph Feliciano, 9 years ago

      Such an interesting story behind and ahead if you. Will try the Beta of Meeet. Signed up about two nights ago.

      1 point
    • Alex AnderAlex Ander, 9 years ago

      man i've seen you mention your age like three times in the past couple days

      1 point
      • Noah BuscherNoah Buscher, 9 years ago


        This comment + a comment from a few days ago + one HN comment = three public mentions.

        Haters gonna hate, I suppose.

        0 points
  • Jared EricksonJared Erickson, 9 years ago

    Building a motorcycle company in Atlanta


    3 points
  • Josh BerlinJosh Berlin, 9 years ago

    Wow the response on this thread is awesome.

    This makes me want to start a side project that lets people share their side projects and get feedback!

    Seems like http://www.reddit.com/r/SideProject/ has daily activity.

    2 points
  • Dustin KirkDustin Kirk, 9 years ago

    Dustin Kirk Office Hours

    My most recent project is a service doing website design reviews. The site is now fully functional and will be officially launching it shortly.

    1 point
  • Sean HealeySean Healey, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    Kidrad Apparel Co.

    My clothing brand, side project / future full-time job (in theory). Site isn't perfect, but I'm proud of it nonetheless. Just two years old. I run the brand alone, but my good friend Matt helped develop the backend. Thoughts?!

    1 point
  • Joshua HynesJoshua Hynes, 9 years ago

    Great to see so many side projects from people. After-hours I really try to get off the computer. I think having some margin in my life when I'm not thinking about design is definitely helpful. So my two "side-projects" are:

    Read 20 books in 1 year.

    In addition to other news and magazines that I read, I try to spend time reading regularly—hopefully on a wide range of topics: fiction, history, philosophy, as well as some industry books. It's an ambitious goal, but I've managed to read 15 books the last two years so I wanted to stretch myself.

    Be a better father and husband.

    Honestly I don't have a lot of time for side-projects because I spend as much time as I can with my wife and three kids. I spend the vast majority of my life working in a career that I love. While I would love to explore some side projects, that would cut into the few fleeting hours I have with my family. Yeah, that probably means I don't gain some notoriety, but I get to impact 4 people's lives deeply every day. Who gets to say that all the time?

    1 point
  • Phil LaPierPhil LaPier, 9 years ago


    A Chrome DevTools extension to create keyboard shortcuts to DOM elements.

    1 point
  • Keira BuiKeira Bui, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )


    Hatch is an idea that came to me when I was really bored and have nothing to do. I wanted to do a side project but don't know who to work with.. I wanted to meet new people but the area I was living in had no tech scene or whatsoever. So I thought of Hatch. Think Tinder/OKCupid + Linkedin. Hatch will match you to great talents who are also fun to work with - based on your personality (working style). We aim to connect designers and developers who want to work on side projects.

    I've been thinking about it for a year and finally got to do it few months ago. So far we've had more than 600 people signing up and I'm so excited that there'd be an easier way to people to connect. For DN only, if you who want a beta tester invite, let me know (or you can tweet me (https://twitter.com/KeiraBui "@keirabui") and I'll prioritize yours and move you up the list. Gotta give back to the community.

    1 point
  • Brian HansonBrian Hanson, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )


    There's a stupid / silly / ridiculous holiday every day, so I try to doodle something for each of them


    Pretty much a twitter clone, but your post must be in the form of a haiku.

    1 point
  • Rolando MurilloRolando Murillo, 9 years ago

    Coleure, a color manager that doesn't suck. Still on the works but it's super fun to work on it.

    1 point
  • David LarsenDavid Larsen, 9 years ago

    SpendLight - I'm helping couples/families/individuals get their bad spending habits under control. Think of it as a spending journal with simple prompts for self-evaluation. Users give themselves actionable feedback to keep in mind for the next occasion.

    1 point
  • Aaron GrandoAaron Grando, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    Montre Moda

    A community site for wristwatch enthusiasts. Post your daily wear, add your collection, and manage your wishlist. All together, the aim is to help organize what, right now, is a very disorganized and outdated online culture (mostly existing on circa-Y2K message boards!). This is a weekend hack project that will be live very soon!


    A social network that respects your offline life. Updates from your network are delivered twice daily – as you wake up and as you get out of work. There are no likes, blips, boops, pings, snaps, pops, or whatever between the updates. I'm trying to design interaction to be more thoughtful – you'll have the entire day to work on posts and responses to others posts, and the types of content you can share will include some novel types which work well with a call-and-response pattern (like polls and questions). Still in the concept phase with this one.

    1 point
  • Account deleted 9 years ago

    Aaron thanks for asking these. I got enough courage to get a hold on myself was just planning to how and what to do. When I look to your projects, I can see that I don't have use my everyday tools (computer, ps, ai) for years I've become blunt and I thought I should stay put and work on desk. These two days are going way better than I was expecting (even thou horrible amount of work at the office)

    Thank you Aaron. And thank you all again.

    1 point
  • Moiz K. MalikMoiz K. Malik, 9 years ago


    This is actually my first Rails application (or application of any sort). I started working on it in late 2012. I'm the lone designer/developer on it. Nooklyn helps people find apartments or roommates in Brooklyn, NY.


    I started working on this August 1st, 2014 on nights and weekends. Its very raw right now, and doesn't really have much functionality. Right now, you can create projects, add notes (which are links w/ descriptions), screenshots. Additionally you can (as of yesterday) add comments to those notes. I still need to let people add other users to projects (and tons of other important features lol).

    1 point
    • Aaron GrandoAaron Grando, 9 years ago

      Hey man, Nooklyn is a cool idea but it's a bit disappointing that you've only focused on such a narrow slice of the borough. There's plenty of opportunity off the L corridor!

      1 point
      • Moiz K. MalikMoiz K. Malik, 9 years ago

        Yeah, I agree. My hope is to expand to other cities (SF/LA/Chicago, etc). The Rentals & Sales data of Nooklyn is powered by a brokerage of the same name. It's how I've been able to enforce some level of quality control of pictures, and accuracy of listing data.

        The Rooms & Mates doesn't have that coupling, and so it can grow without expanding the brokerage side of things.

        My rough roadmap is: I'm currently working on a neighborhoods section that will provide people with info about neighborhoods (e.g. good barber shops, grocery, bars, coworking space, etc). Once that is released, my goal is to start working on a simple iPhone app (my first) that lets you browse listings/roommates.

        Once that's done, I'd like to begin working on expanding to other neighborhoods.

        0 points
  • Maurice CherryMaurice Cherry, 9 years ago

    Revision Path

    A weekly interview show that focuses on showcasing Black graphic designers, web designers, and web developers. Each week, we explore the stories, processes, experiences, insights, and creative inspirations of these awesome creators from all over the world.


    1 point
  • Kalle GraverholtKalle Graverholt, 9 years ago

    A really nice read with all these fun side projects. Keep them coming.

    I'm currently working on a portable wireless speaker with a good friend of mine. The Audiocase. It has been a real fun but also challenging project. We have made everything ourselves including the product with barely any money so we've learned a lot on the way. There's still tons to do but we just launched first version which is really nice. Fun to create a psychical product for a change

    1 point
  • Vinh LeVinh Le, 9 years ago

    Spare Tire Productions


    My second passion, visual story telling through video. A few friends and I started up this production company together to tell stories and capture moments. I act as the Director of Photography committed mainly on the weekends.

    1 point
  • Bardan Gauchan, 9 years ago

    Current working on a website/webapp like Designer News / Hacker News / Product Hunt to geek out on our favourite physical products. I know I know, another community to be a part of but hopefully it'll appeal to at least some people who (like me) obsess over design, simplicity, and usability of products. Plus I have some good ideas (I think?) on how it could be something more.

    I'm hoping to finish it by end of this month by working nights and weekends so keep a lookout for it.

    1 point
  • Bruce AckermanBruce Ackerman, 9 years ago

    https://www.printavo.com has been my baby for a while. It's shop management software for screen-printers.

    1 point
  • Adrien OlczakAdrien Olczak, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )


    An app to make learning things faster.

    Fueled by a somewhat ambitious/almost impossible long-term goal of never letting industries with a monopoly without competition for too long.

    App Store link here

    1 point
    • Tanner ChristensenTanner Christensen, 9 years ago

      Sounds interesting, but why does the "Download" button link to an email/support addy?

      1 point
      • Adrien OlczakAdrien Olczak, 9 years ago

        What the what.

        Fixed the link on the comment to the app store and will fix the site's link later tonight, thanks man.

        0 points
  • Greg BeckGreg Beck, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )


    Mixley is a site to find new people to do things with. New things or stuff you already love doing. Right now it's still in early beta, and we're continuously refining it.


    Ownd is a luggage sticker. One that is a little more entertaining than the average tag. Silly, fun little side project with real, tangible things.

    Carl & Co.

    Coming Soonish: Shirts that mix science and rock and roll. Simple shirts. Nothing gaudy.

    Dog toys

    My latest side project is a dog toy... inspired by my dog. What's fun about this project is I'll be collaborating with my fiancée.

    I agree with @Noah Buscher in that happiness is in the little things. Coming off my last startup agency, now working full time with my various side projects always keeps me excited about something.

    And when I'm not sitting in front of the computer I'm playing/writing music or acting like I know how to build furniture.

    1 point
    • Aaron White, 9 years ago

      The wife and I travel quite a bit for our jobs and LOVE the stickers! I'd be interested in finding out more about he dog toys.

      0 points
      • Greg BeckGreg Beck, 9 years ago

        Nice! Feel free to snag a few of the stickers before we "officially" launch (ie, tell all our friends about it). And let me know if you have any other feedback!

        The dog toys are still a bit under wraps, but it's basically a toy that will keep your dog busy for a good amount of time, while surprising him along the way. Hoping to get enough made for the holidays. I'll keep the DN community in the loop as the projects evolve.

        1 point
  • Matt VMatt V, 9 years ago

    I'm currently working on a DJ application for my home. First time using the MEAN stack and I'm really excited about it!

    1 point
    • Julian LloydJulian Lloyd, 9 years ago

      MEAN is pretty cool, but I would consider looking into MySQL or PostgreSQL for data persistence…

      MongoDB has some great use cases, but I‘ve heard horror stories from buddies at work about migrating away from Mongo… Sequelize (SQL ORM) is a great alternative to Mongoose (MongoDB ORM)

      1 point
      • Matt VMatt V, 9 years ago

        I really really dislike the whole api and resource methods. Maybe I just need to get used to it? I know that I needed to mess around with it, just to have some basic experience.

        I will definitely check those out. Thanks!

        0 points
  • Jason RodriguezJason Rodriguez, 9 years ago

    Currently working on my second book, a follow up to Modern HTML Email.

    Professional Email Design is a continuation of the first, but goes way deeper into the code. Less for marketers, more for the designers and developers that are in the weeds, dealing with HTML email every day.

    I'm also working on a new blog series called Campaign Critique, which is almost like light-weight consulting in blog form for email designs. The first two entries are here and here.

    1 point
    • Keira BuiKeira Bui, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

      I like the Professional Email Design idea. I've been designing an email template for my startup Hatch and it's not easy to create a delightful experience with email.

      0 points
      • Jason RodriguezJason Rodriguez, 9 years ago

        Yeah, email is definitely a strange beast. There are a ton of great resources out there now to help you out. Shameless plug: you should check out the Litmus Community if you need help or want to learn more about email in general.

        If you need any advice, get in touch. I'm always game for a chat about email.

        0 points
  • Account deleted 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )


    I just finished www.yeezify.com - A fun way to learn about browser extensions.

    1 point
  • Rizwan MRizwan M, 9 years ago

    iOS app for favqs.com and this is my first side project. Developing and designing by myself.


    1 point
  • Joseph FelicianoJoseph Feliciano, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    At the moment I am working on my writing in relation to design. Just finished writing a weekend long piece based on my 22 day experiment as a designer on Fiverr.

    22 Days On Fiverr. Cash Cow or Devaluing Design ?


    Personal Portfolio

    Just recently picked up my first and last name .com in attempt to get myself back into the flow of working on design projects outside of 9-5 web work. Coming along well with new freelance clients.


    1 point
  • Account deleted 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    Airwalk Design is a semi-curated social stadium for discovering beautiful design inspiration and smashing designer goodies on mobile, tablet and desktop. Sign up today to build your own collection of digital inspiration, download our high-quality designer resources, read our awesome digital magazine, or simply start typing to find something stunning!

    (sorry, my salespitch...)



    1 point
  • Matt Smadner, 9 years ago

    Barrtr - Bartering for Small Business and Web Designers.

    We would love to have some of you guys on the build. We need as much help as we can get!

    0 points
  • Andrew Conlan, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )


    A simple podcast app

    0 points
  • Goofer GGoofer G, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )


    This is a project management tool with simplicity and ease of use in mind. The main concept is to keep you focused on your work instead of offering a distracting user interface.

    0 points
  • Michael XanderMichael Xander, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    My Morning Routine

    I've been publishing morning routines weekly at http://mymorningroutine.com since December 2012. We've previously published routines of several people you may know, such as James Clear, Paul Jarvis, Sarah Kathleen Peck, Colin Wright, Nicole Antoinette, Sahil Parikh, and dozens more.

    I’m really happy how it took off. We’ve been featured by sites like Smashing Magazine and I’m currently working on a redesign to take it to the next level. Best of all are however the connections I’ve made through it!


    Launchbot enables you to easily open sets of all your favorite websites with just one click. It's like restoring tabs, but on any computer and browser. You can also search Google or just quick-launch one of your favorite websites.

    Check it out, it’s open-source and part of my workflow.

    0 points
  • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    Better Every Time, a progress tracking app for iPhone, especially for people who identify with metaphor and don't dig charts and quantification to see their progress: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/better-every-time/id701023336

    We basically put almost every hour we can buy back from client work to put into Better. So far we've had about 21k downloads and a lot of nice reviews in the app store. We'll be taking a couple weeks to bump it up to v2 soon.

    It's not a big thing, but working on this project really lifts our spirits and makes those days completely fun.

    0 points
    • Keira BuiKeira Bui, 9 years ago

      Sounds like a great idea! And a great achievement too. Can you share how you achieve the 21k downloads?

      Also, any plan for Android?

      0 points
      • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, 9 years ago


        We relied just on word of mouth. The app isn't at a point where we feel right spending to market it more aggressively, yet. We got some early blog reviews, and it was quiet for a while, then we got on the homepage for the China App Store, which doubled our 4-month base in about 3 weeks.

        No plans for an Android version at this point. The platform doesn't do much for us and as a side-project it has to be fun :) Maybe someday.

        0 points
  • Aaron White, 9 years ago

    Thanks everyone for sharing... Pure Awesome!

    0 points
  • Aaron White, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    I forgot to mention doing non-design related side projects... I'm building a set of cornhole boards (http://www.playcornhole.org/), spent the weekend building the boards and am planning on color staining some designs in the next week or so.


    0 points
    • Braden HammBraden Hamm, 9 years ago

      Kind of timely, I played a LOT of cornhole during the 4th of July weekend this year.

      1 point