Ever wonder what it takes to start a successful side project? Meet designer Gal Shir who shares the story of how he created and grew his side project, Color Hunt. We talk to Gal about how Color Hunt evolved from a simple idea into an extremely popular resource for designers everywhere and also get insight for designers who may be thinking about starting a side project of their own.
Tell us about Color Hunt and how you came up with the idea
Color Hunt is a curated collection of color palettes. I started Color Hunt with the goal of sharing my passion for colors and to provide a resource for designers, artists, developers, illustrators, and anyone who needs a fresh color combination for their design project. It all started from a repeating situation of me being asked by someone to help with choosing colors for their work. Friends of mine that work in the creative field were sending me messages once in a while: “Hey Gal, can you help me choose five colors for a pie-chart I’m making?” After too many distracting and context-switching requests, I came up with the idea of setting up a simple web page featuring several basic color combinations I made. I thought that by doing that, I could easily send a link to my friends and direct them instantly to pick a color palette I made before.
How has Color Hunt evolved since you first created it?
After getting this simple web page ready, I decided to transform this personal collection into a public resource for the world. Then I built the Likes System that lets users save their favorite palettes and curate them based on popularity. Then I built the Palette Creator feature that gives the ability for anyone to create and submit their own color palette to the collection, and for me to review all the suggestions and choose the best ones.
When everything was live, ready, and tested, I published Color Hunt as a new product on Product Hunt and got an overwhelming amount of up-votes, exposure, feedback, and traffic. I started to see the palette’s like-counters pumping and my managing dashboard filling up with new palettes created by users.
Did you encounter any struggles creating Color Hunt or starting a side project in general?
I’m actually not a professional web developer so I had to use StackOverflow a lot and learn on the go. I faced many technical challenges in coding the UI, setting up the database, and making everything work—but it’s an adventure. I knew that in order to operate a Likes System I had to force my users to signup for Color Hunt or connect using Facebook or Twitter, and I didn’t want to do that. I know that people hate signups and that I might get way fewer Likes if only signed-up users could click the button. Since the community wasn’t big at the beginning, I couldn’t compromise on such low amounts of Likes. So I decided to use Local Storage. I built a Likes System that stores all the user’s liked palettes in their browser’s Local Storage without needing to have a user account on Color Hunt. My database also records each like with the user’s IP address so he can’t like a certain palette more than once.
What’s next for Color Hunt?
I’ve recently developed the Search feature for users to find specific color palettes based on a certain color or theme. And on the list, I have many more plans such as developing a lists system for users to categorize their liked palettes and make different personal collections (inspired by Dribbble’s Buckets). I’m also thinking of opening the collection with an API to give access to the palettes in different apps and websites, and to develop a Sketch plugin to let designers integrate and use Color Hunt’s palette within the Sketch app.
Any advice for other designers looking to start a side project?
I think everyone should have some side projects boiling up in their kitchen. I actually think designers are super lucky in terms of starting side projects since they have some very useful and important skills. I’d advise designers that want to start a side project to think of a product they would use themselves or have friends that are in need of it. The best products come from a deep problem or a need. I believe everyone can learn the basics of web development or can team up with a developer who is also looking to start a web-based side project.