Barn Genius!

A pet project launched in 2015, Barn Genius! is a com­plete­ly respon­sive web­site for the clever eques­tri­an, com­ple­ment­ed by a brand­ed suite of social media chan­nels (Face­book, Twit­ter, Insta­gram, and Pin­ter­est).

Screenshots of Barn Genius! on multiple devices

The story

As a long-time eques­tri­an and lover of effi­cien­cy and cre­ative solu­tions, I always enjoy dis­cov­er­ing all the clever ways that horsepeo­ple around the world solve the prob­lems we all face, as well as those unique to a par­tic­u­lar dis­ci­pline, cli­mate, or oth­er chal­lenge.

Barn Genius! was devel­oped as a web­site where I could write and a share some of the clever solu­tions I’ve come up with or learned myself through my expe­ri­ence in the horse indus­try, as well as those I’ve encoun­tered on the Inter­net. It’s a sort of Life­Hack­er for eques­tri­ans, if you will. It’s not just about short­cuts, how­ev­er; it’s about mak­ing the most of what you have, and some­times mak­ing a small effort or invest­ment, to get the most out of life at the barn and pro­vide the best care for the hors­es with­out wear­ing our­selves out along the way.

The Process

This project was entire­ly con­ceived, designed, exe­cut­ed, and is cur­rent­ly main­tained by myself. All con­tent, includ­ing arti­cles, pho­tos, illus­tra­tions, logo, and social media posts, are orig­i­nal and my own (with the excep­tion of some pho­tos used with per­mis­sion and/or under CC license).

I start­ed this project while I was only employed part-time, in an effort to prac­tice my devel­op­ment skills. Hav­ing recent­ly spent a great deal of time try­ing to build a much larg­er project that was (sad­ly, painful­ly, frus­trat­ing­ly) just beyond my skill at the time, I decid­ed to quick­ly put togeth­er some­thing much more straight­for­ward.

Barn Genius is still live and ongo­ing, and I am con­tin­u­ous­ly pick­ing up new tips and solu­tions to add, though pro­duc­tion is some­what slow­er now than it was at the start.

Tools & Tech

  • Joom­la!
  • Boot­strap
  • MySQL
  • FontAwe­some
  • Google Fonts
  • Google AdSense
  • Ama­zon Affil­i­ates
  • AddThis

Lessons Learned

  • Per­haps obvi­ous: it takes a lot of work to rely sole­ly on your­self for com­plete­ly orig­i­nal and unique con­tent, design, graph­ics, edit­ing, etc. And of course, you have no one to blame but your­self if it’s not quite up to your stan­dard!
  • It can be quite a chore to look for the right pho­to if you’re look­ing for an open-licensed or free image. How­ev­er, it is absolute­ly worth­while to ask for per­mis­sion to use copy­right­ed pho­tos; you can make some neat con­tacts, pro­mote your prod­uct, and gain some expo­sure (and gen­uine appre­ci­a­tion and respect) in the process.

See it

See it live