I have a friend. He was a lawyer, but a few months ago he realized he doesn’t enjoy it, and decided to change countries and profession: he moved, and now makes wooden toys. He said he wants to try to sell his toys online and asked for advice on how to do that on the cheap.

We brainstormed a bit and what came out were Shopify, Etsy, and other things like that, but for various reasons none of them fit perfectly for the country he moved to. So then I proposed that he would try Weebly. It worked for me in the past for other little websites, and I proposed he would create one page per product — that one is quite easy — and then I’d create a little basket widget that I’d hook into them to create an ecommerce-like experience.

I thought: I am an experienced Web Front-end Engineer, I can do that. The idea sounded quite interesting and we decided to try it.

By then I had a habit formed: to work about an hour every morning on my side projects, so time was not a problem, but two months later I still didn’t have it finished, and it didn’t feel right.

* * *

Another friend of mine had a similar need, and he solved it with WordPress, so I decided to give it a try. Over the next few days’ mornings I got WordPress and WooCommerce installed on a $5/month server at DigitalOcean, with all the ecommerce functionality my friend needed. We have polished over the next week or so adding share buttons and trying out various themes, and now it’s up and running.

Incidentally, I had a week-long vacation planned after that. I was mostly offline and I had plenty of time to think about questions like: Am I doing it wrong!? Should I quit programming?!

I enjoy writing high-quality code, but more than that I like when my work proves useful to other people.

So it seems there are a couple of conclusions:

  1. Before jumping to developing something, check if there is an existing solution.
  2. Clearly separate the “play” and “production” work.