The Sweet Hat Club started when Colin said, “Hey, we should start a Sweet Hat Club”, and posted a picture of himself on the company Skype Chat. Others at Cramer Dev followed suit, and a club was born. We bought a domain and put up a website, just for fun.
We put it on a simple WordPress site and Marino put some sweet responsive styles on it. Some plugins for voting, Facebook comments, tweets, form uploads, and we almost had a real website. But wait, this website doesn’t even have a song! Luckily at that time Pat Blair was on our team , and as he does, rocked out the Sweet Hat Club theme song (you can listen to it on the home page.)
Another fun feature was Instagram integration. If you take a photo with that app and add the #sweethatclub hashtag, boom, it’s on the site! We took Instagram’s Real-Time API and hooked it up to a WordPress plugin that creates posts from photos. It’s pretty slick and works well. The plugin is real dirty and ugly, so we haven’t open-sourced it yet, but if you’re interested let us know and we can at least show you what we did.
One day we were doing some ideation with The Iowa Children’s Museum and were showing off The Sweet Hat Club as an example of a nice mobile-friendly and responsive design. One of them thought it was so sweet she had the idea to make a Sweet Hat Club display at the museum. We helped them put it together with a PC, a couple displays, Sparkbooth, and a little more WordPress hacking. The Iowa Hat Lady donated a few hundred hats and they set up a whole room for the Sweet Hat Club exhibit. Kids can go in the booth, get their photo taken with a Sweet Hat of their choosing, come out of the booth and see it on the screen. It’s fun, so go there and try it. You can see the latest kids right now at http://sweethatclub.org/kids/.
The Sweet Hat Club teaches us a few lessons: Just do stuff for fun and enjoy life while at work. Even if it’s just silly, frivolous play, it can lead you to learn and help others learn. It can get you featured on design galleries - CSS Mania, Pattern Tap, Media Queries - and some good press. Lessons we learned from doing this and other things for fun give us knowledge, experience, inspiration, and motivation we can then channel into solving real problems for our customers and your customers, and have a joyous experience along the way.