Site Launch: HowManyDiapers.com
Most of Steed’s design and website development work is done for outside clients. But from time to time, we plan on creating projects just for ourselves. It’s a great opportunity to learn a few things, to step outside our comfort zones, and, with any luck, to make a little extra side money.
HowManyDiapers.com is a site that was created to address a very specific need: When you’re buying diapers in bulk, which is a common way for new parents to save money, how do you know how many of each size you’re going to need?
When our twins were first born, I spent more than $500 buying diapers online. With some research and a few guesses, I was able to buy quantities that were close to what we needed, but later I ended up trading in four or five large boxes for larger sizes when the babies grew faster than we expected. Predicting baby size was a lot of work, and it wasn’t very accurate.
It was at our two-month pediatricians appointment that I first came across the CDC growth charts, and the light bulb turned on in my head. When the nurse weighed and measured the babies, she explained that they use the CDC charts to plot our the “trajectory” of what size the baby currently was, compared to the averages of other babies, to know if they are healthy, or are growing too quickly or two slowly. Looking at the chart, I realized that she had exactly what I was looking for: A day-by-day prediction of what a baby will weigh as it grows up.
The internet is full of interesting, free information, but sometimes it’s not very useful or accessible for everyday people. With a little bit of creativity, a web programmer can take information from multiple sources online, combine it together, and create something new and interesting. One of my favorite online tools, Graph TV, combines TV show episode ratings from the Internet Movie Database with some chart-making software to create graphs that show when TV series get better or worse.
In my case, I combined several different data sources:
- The Center for Disease Control’s data on baby growth (available in Microsoft Excel format, as well as a visual chart)
- The diaper manufacturers’ chart of what size of diaper is needed for a baby at different weights
- A table of how many diapers a baby uses per day at different ages
- For good measure, I used charting software, dygraphs, to plot out the baby’s weight over time, and when diaper sizes changed.
The last piece of the puzzle is that we are part of the Amazon Associates program, which pays people for sending visitors to Amazon.com, if the visit results in sales. After HowManyDiapers figures out size of diapers you need, it also figures out which boxes of diapers you need, and links directly to those diapers on Amazon. This way, even when we aren’t actively working on the site, we can be making a small amount of money for referring people to Amazon. For a small family business like ours, a small amount of passive income like this can be invaluable.
Just combining data together doesn’t make for a very attractive website all by itself. To make the site pop, Cara created a wonderful illustration of stuffed animals, and I designed the rest of the site to match.
The site launched in April, as a “beta” version. If you or someone you know is buying diapers, we hope you find it useful. As we move forward, we’re still going to be making some major changes, so please email us with your ideas and suggestions for improvement.
If your business or organization is looking for someone to help you create a website of your own, just ask. We’d be happy to hear from you!