I really enjoy working on side-projects outside of my normal 9-5. They give me an opportunity to learn things out of my UX Design comfort zone, keep up-to-date with web development advances and trends, and having an understanding of the possibilities and limitations placed on web developers makes me a better designer.
I’ve been working on a particular side-project these past few months and it is something I am personally excited about. I truly believe it will help others.
I admit I am guilty of feature creep, and because I’m not an experienced web developer, I’m not as fast at writing PHP as others would be. This has inevitably lead to the minimum viable product taking much longer than I expected. As I spend my weekends and evenings in my studio (…where else would I be?) I sometimes get disheartened by the apparent culture of “Overnight Success” so prevalent in the tech industry, specifically with new companies.
The overnight success myth has been fueled in recent years by stories of Angry Birds and popularised by films such as The Social Network. The fact is that side projects take a lot of time and energy, the boring stuff that would make for a less interesting article or blockbuster film. The success of Angry Birds was 8 years in the making.
I read once that Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook was recently asked what it was like to be part of Facebook’s overnight success. His response was something like “If by ‘overnight success’ you mean staying up and coding all night, every night for six years straight, then it felt really tiring and stressful.”
These companies didn’t become successful overnight. They were discovered overnight.
The pressure that the apparently lack of struggle places on startups to succeed in the first year after launch can damage a startup. The pressure to launch before you’re ready is tempting, but you don’t want to skimp on testing or launch without an adequate content plan.
If you want more examples of the truth behind some of the greatest overnight success stories, check out UX Myth #32, Success Happens Overnight.