The League of Moveable Type is an open-source type foundry that we started with A Good Company back in 2009. The design hadn't been updated since, and I wanted to introduce some new concepts into the structure – mainly a push to move our fonts to Github, and a way for people to support The League by donating monthly.
So I transferred all of our fonts to git repositories using a standardized structure, and built a Sinatra application that can find them, grab contents from the readme, assign authors, and track downloads. It includes a user system with 3 different roles – administrators, contributors (people who've contributed fonts), and supporters (people who can sign up to have a monthly donation of their choosing taken with a credit card).
As part of the reconstruction for The League, one of the goals was to make a spot for potential advertisements in hopes of selling space. For most of the development, it was just a hardcoded image & line of text, but a few hours before launching, I realized that it might as well be a real ad – if I can't find advertisers right away, at least I'll be advertising my own products.
While working on a literary publication I've helped start, The Golden Triangle, it came up that it would be a really interesting experiment to have blog followers & readers follow along with a reading list, that the editors can publish & keep up with.
I thought maybe this could be something that other people would be interested in using, so I built it into a little system, where someone can sign up, make a list just by typing titles of books they're going to read, and it would go fetch them from Amazon and display it on page that you could share with your friends. If someone keeps the auto-fetched links in there, they'll be Amazon Affiliate referrals, otherwise they can be customized by the list-maker.
You can keep track of progress just by estimating how far along you are in the book; for a while we did it by page number, but it was too specific and hard to keep up with from the reader's perspective. There's a fun little animation for the progress bar when you update it, which I personally like seeing.
As a fun project, I decided to build an idea I'd had for a long time, and see if I could get it started and finished in a weekend. Every once in a while I'll get a project where I need to build an iOS icon – either for our own apps, like the now-gone Hulu Queue manager I built for A Good Company, or for clients like Is It Christmas? or Appetites.
In designing app icons like these, I've found that context is super important. You can design something in Photoshop, and it'll look amazing, but once you get it onto the device, in the context of other icons & Apple's style, it doesn't always fit in like you'd expect.
So as a quick way for designers to check out how their work-in-progress icons are looking, I made iconi.co; you go through a 2 step process of uploading your icon & paying, and you're given a URL that you can visit with Mobile Safari. When you save it to your homescreen, it's icon is your icon. Bam! Icon in context. And you can update & change it as much as you like, until it's finished.
At the beginning of the year, I had some discussions with my sister, who had a thriving Etsy shop. She was surprised at how difficult it was to keep accurate books on her tiny new business, and that Etsy didn't have much in the way of helping with that.
Half as a birthday present, and half as a potential new business idea, I built a tool that would do just that. It lets you track expenses for your Etsy business manually, and has a little bookmarklet that you can install to input your Etsy sales. Go to an Etsy sale page, hit the button, and a little receipt unfolds that lets you save it to moneybox.me.
A few months later, I introduced premium accounts, where for a monthly fee, moneybox.me would automatically fetch your sales for you, so there was literally no effort needed. It also lets you download spreadsheets for tax time records.
Additionally, as an experiment, I have a running coupon that gets automatically applied if you're using a modern browser like Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Opera. It turns out Etsy users are not especially tech-savvy, and I figured rather than having to troubleshoot Internet Explorer quirks all the time, I could make an effort to get people to switch browsers. So far the result has been amazing – IE usage is down more than 50% since starting, and there's not a single paying customer that didn't go for it.