Introducing PaperSizes — Our stupid side project
A handy resource for finding the international standards for over 250 paper sizes.
Launched in April 2017, PaperSizes is a stupid side project by me and Rich Franklin. I’ll talk about why we did it, the solution, the feedback, winning awards, losing our domain for 2 days, and why everyone should be working on a side project. Medium says it will be a 4 minute read. I believe them.
Why we did it
After listening to designer Tobias Van Schneider talk about side projects and why they should be stupid, me and Rich decided to brainstorm a number of (stupid) ideas before landing on one that we thought actually could be useful.
Our aim was to create a usable tool on both desktop and mobile for people who needed quick access to paper sizes. After searching online for something similar, and not having much luck, we decided to just do it.
Upon entry into the website, you are first presented with the entire catalogue of paper sizes in a neat grid, giving an overview of every size.
There is a smart navigation at the top of the page for quick access to all of the paper size series. By tapping these tabs, you are taken to the full catalogue of that series, listing every paper size, as well as an excerpt of background information, and a comparison table.
In addition to the extensive catalogue of paper sizes, we added a neat unit switcher, which enables you to toggle between metric and imperial dimensions. There are also 4 colour themes to choose from, depending on your preference.
We decided to launch one evening. We still had a few tweaks to do, but we thought let’s just launch it now — no one is going to see it anyway. We knew we had a good product, but we didn’t know if people would like it, let alone use it regularly.
“Let’s just launch it now — no one is going to see it anyway”
We sent out our first tweet and not long after that, I got a notification. Then another. And another. I’ve never had so many notifications on my phone. One of my Instagram posts got 11 likes once — but this was bigger than that. The feedback was very positive, and it was a great feeling knowing that we had designed and built a tool that people enjoyed using.
100k page views in 2 days
I’m not too keen on the phrase ‘award winning’. People assume adding it as a prefix automatically makes you superior to everyone else. You’re not an ‘award winning agency’ just because one of your designers won ‘Goal Of The Month’ in 1998 playing for his local football team.
Ooops, the website is down
This was the news we didn’t want to hear. Unfortunately our domain was transferred to someone else without our authorisation. We thought that all the hard work we had put in had been lost.
Luckily, after a few days the hosting company resolved the issue and we were back online tweeting stupid gifs again. Phew.
Why everyone should be working on a side project
This side project was a great opportunity for us both to learn new skills and improve our existing ones. We spent most weekends and evenings working on this, but the result was definitely worth it. We had nothing to slow down our productivity. We knew the problem we wanted to solve, and we just did it .
When you start getting positive feedback from people who are actually using your product, it pushes you to continue to come up with ideas and create amazing solutions. If you get a chance to work on a side project, I 100% recommend doing so.
Thanks everyone for your support so far
We want to say a huge thank you for all the positive feedback and support so far. Our goal is to make PaperSizes the number one resource for finding paper sizes. We hope that you continue to use it, and share it with your friends! 😎
By Rob Lafratta