Great Top View Shot For European Modern Town

It’s no secret that the digital industry is booming. From exciting startups to global brands, companies are reaching out to digital agencies, responding to the new possibilities available. However, the industry is fast becoming overcrowded, heaving with agencies offering similar services — on the surface, at least.

Producing creative, fresh projects is the key to standing out. Unique side projects are the best place to innovate, but balancing commercially and creatively lucrative work is tricky. So, this article looks at how to make side projects work and why they’re worthwhile, drawing on lessons learned from our development of the ux ompanion app.

Why Integrate Side Projects?

Being creative within the constraints of client briefs, budgets and timelines is the norm for most agencies. However, investing in research and development as a true, creative outlet is a powerful addition. In these side projects alone, your team members can pool their expertise to create and shape their own vision — a powerful way to develop motivation, interdisciplinary skills and close relationships.

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all.

Building into the identity and culture of an agency can also lead to new client work. These projects act as a road map, showing clients exciting new technologies and ideas that will differentiate you from competitors. One of our earliest projects turned our website into a brochure, optimized for the first iPad’s touch interactions. By demonstrating the final product, we went on to win a project to create a similar product for a new client.

How To Make Side Projects Work

sketchWe’re still working on achieving that perfect balance between commerce and creativity. But we have fresh inspiration on how it’s done from having worked on ux companion. The app gained a popular following in early October, as one of the first native apps to offer a full glossary of user experience terms and theory — but the development process was definitely a learning process.

Commercializing side projects alongside client work isn’t easy. Even if such projects are intended to generate additional revenue streams, they are not directly related to your core business. Those with a more qualitative aim, such as promoting expertise or technological experimentation, are even harder to justify.

A significant shift in mindset is required to support either type of side project — weighing the longer-term, incremental benefits against committing what would otherwise be immediately billable time. Many agencies do this with a time-bound model of 80% client time versus 20% time, inspired by Google’s successes with Gmail and Google Reader  which they have since (tellingly) phased out. I’d instead recommend the following guidelines.

0 comments On Great Top View Shot For European Modern Town

  • Kirk — your attitude and outlook amaze me, and will carry you far, I’m sure. You’re so right — you’ll always be the athlete, ready for the challenge as you prepare for the next. May God continue to bless you, keep you, and make His face shine on you and your new life and challenges. And I LOVE the blog name!

  • I am one of your mom’s friends at Echo Lake and for years now I have heard the inspiration you have been to her. She talks about her “babies” constantly and I can truly see why! You are an inspiration to all of us. I read your CaringBridge updates daily and will surely be reading your blog now. Not only are you an inspiration to her, me, and 100s of adults, but my students are extremely inspired by you too. I keep them posted on all of the amazing accomplishments you are making. The other day they had to brainstorm words with -ir in them and almost every child used the word Kirk because of you and went on the write some positive and wonderful sentences about you! I didn’t even prompt them to do that. They are all sending you great first grade vibes and will be excited to hear about your apartment and your exciting hockey game experience. I will enjoy my coffee a little more tomorrow morning because of your advice!

  • Hey Kirk –

    I remembered a few years ago there was a program called “Dragon” which did speech recognition for PCs (you could talk and the words would appear on the screen). I checked out the website today after seeing your post, and was wondering if this was something you had heard about or tried. You can check out the product online – I’m not sure if it would fit your needs, but it seemed like a pretty cool – and useful – product!

    Here’s the link: http://WWW.NUANCE.COM/naturallyspeaking/products/default.asp

    It’s been a tremendous inspiration to follow your blog each day. I am constantly impressed by both your outlook and your determination – keep going strong!

    – Stephen

  • mollie and tommy anderson

    Great to read your blog! Both Tommy and I grew up as teenagers with your father in lovely Hopewell. Then we met your mom and both you and Clayton as little boys. Tommy and I have followed your progress on caring bridge eagerly every morning. I was so glad to see that the transition has gone well—change is always anxiety producing but it sounds as if you were ready. Tommy talks to your dad when he returns to Richmond–it is hard for him to be here when he really wants to be there–but it sounds like between you, your mom, your brother and your many friends things are going well.
    We always keep you and your family in our prayers—each day is a new opportunity and an adventure! You are so right, we all in such a hurry that we forget to enjoy the moment and reflect on what is really important to us.
    I know this week will go well
    Mollie Anderson

  • Kirk,
    Your progress and attitude are an inspiration. Congrats on he new digs, sounds like you are starting to make it your own.

    Everyone in Ashland is rooting for you!


  • So, Kirk – Now you know why the Sayre-Scibona’s are nuts about hockey. Back in the day… I went to see the Oakland Seals play – as a lark. (Dude! They wore white skates!) Since Megan has picked up the “fastest game on ice” – we’ve had a great time with it. (Beth? Not so much with the hitting…) Honestly – our favorite is going to see D-I college games. Fast, hard hitting, and only a few less fights. Great hockey! Besides, the seats are cheaper (but there aren’t as many search lights at the start of the game).

    Go Bruins!


    PS. When Bella gets that door open – have her bring me one was well!

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