Side Projects: Validate Quickly or Learning Experience?

I periodically enjoy working on side projects.  Not just messing around, but a full blown side project that has some set of features that I think would be useful.

I never have any real intent of releasing them so I don’t ever put too much priority on them.

Usually what I take away from them are knowledge of new tools/frameworks/libs/patterns etc.  Althoguh they aren’t always completely new to me, they may just be deepening my current understanding.

For me these side projects go into three states:

  1. I get really into it and work on it non stop for a few weeks.
  2. Once I finally get over the fun parts and feel like I stopped learning, it ends up sitting quietly in a half working state.
  3. I abandon the project completely because I’ve thought of something else.
  4. Go to step 1

Product

I’ve recently had an idea for a project that I think would be a great product.

This is problematic to me because my side-projects have generally been a playground for learning new tech.

And if I wanted to create a product, I think I would be better off creating a prototype to validate the idea as quickly as possible so I don’t waste my time.

If I want to spend the least amount of time possible, I would use the languages and platforms that I know.

What do you do?

I’m curious if you the reader have a SaaS/Product idea, do you use the opportunity to learn new technology as well as validate the idea?

Killing two birds with one stone?

Or do you opt for using the tech you know and getting it done much quicker to validate your idea?

Love to hear from you in the comments below or on Twitter.