Yesterday, I quietly launched the new version of An Epicurean in the Windy City. No fanfare, no fireworks, no celebrations – nothing like that. Let me tell you, it was quite the undertaking to get it up and running – once I switched it over from my original WordPress.com blog of yesteryear. I found a web host that I liked and pulled the trigger on getting everything transferred over. That is until the web host started being a serious pain in the ass with migration, and I ended up hosting the darn thing myself on a home server that I set up some time ago. Believe me, there is some serious geekery going on behind the scenes here!

Let’s back up though for a minute. Why did I want to change from what I already had as a blog?

Two reasons:

1) WordPress.com blog sites are extremely limited in design, resources, customization, and almost zero backend access.

2) My original blog looked like GARBAGE.

 

Old Blog

The old blog site; a jumbled, disorganized mess. Kit Graham looks great, but everything looks BLAH.

I have a very vast background in coding and such, so I decided to venture in the world of designing my blog. I knew it would be a huge undertaking, but I had a very specific vision for what I wanted the new blog to look like. I wanted something modern, sleek, clean, darker, and one that stood out from many other blog designs. Don’t get me wrong! There are some great looking blogs out there! But all of those great looking blogs belong to women, and I wanted something more “masculine”.

Thus began the decision to go with something from either WordPress.org, Squarespace, or something from the ground up. I really wanted to go with the latter, but I liked the deep customization and backend features with Squarespace. Using Squarespace, I could do some heavy custom CSS (LESS), JavaScripting, and using JSON to really develop what I wanted.  Things were going great with the new blog design, until something great and unexpected happen.

I got a great new job!

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At this point, I had created something that looked pretty darn good. I wanted to create more of a website than just a blog. I wanted something to encapsulate my love of fashion, wine, underground supper club, and services I wanted to offer. I knew I wanted a grid/magazine style layout, and the result was a hybrid of a mosaic and grid layout. I created a simple, new logo as well and slapped that in the header. Some nifty JavaScripting allowed me to create some hover effects over every panel of the grid. I loved where the new blog was heading.

The actual blog and “About Me” page was something that involved the popular parallax scripting that you see on a lot of websites. I’ve always loved the parallax effect, but I didn’t want to have it overrun my website. The result was something pretty cool and forward thinking for a blog. I was well on my way to launching this new site!

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Then, like I said above, I got a great new job and the progress on the new blog stopped altogether. I was working a ton of hours and I just didn’t have the time and energy to focus on finishing what I had started. I became increasingly frustrated (and embarrassed) with the clunky-looking blog I had on a daily basis, and finally decided to finish what I started with Squarespace.

For some reason though, Squarespace decided they wanted to charge me a large amount of money for me to have “developer” rights so I could launch my heavily-modded new website. No thank you Squarespace. I was back at “square” one, and decided to use my coding experience, a new vision, and launch something on WordPress.org. Within a week I had a beautiful new website (in my opinion) that really reflected who I am as a blogger and a person. Rather than having a grid/mosaic site like I did before, I decided to go with something that would display vibrant photography as a part of my blog posts. I took a template that I found online and heavily modified it in the backend with JavaScript and jQuery to get the current result. Simple, clean, and effective.

I think this new design will be perfect for fashion posts and The Renowned Women of Chicago. That series has really taken off and I plan to continue that for the foreseeable future. The site is still a work in progress, as I am tweaking things here and there in the backend. I’m working on my own SEO scripts that should surpass most SEO plugins out there. I also plan to launch a few new series, including The Distinguished Men of Chicago. It will be a series like The Renowned Women of Chicago. Stay tuned for that! I’m also going to write more about things that I am passionate about. Not just food/wine/fashion, but also things like soccer, travel, drum and bugle corps (part of my youth), and music. 

Finally, I changed the name of my blog and website to just The Windy City Epicurean. I felt like it was appropriate for a 2.0 version, and I felt An Epicurean in the Windy City was more associated with just gastronomy and wine. I feel that this new site is the perfect vehicle to mark the one year anniversary of starting my blog back in August of last year. I’ve matured as a blogger and a writer, and paid fashion opportunities are starting to come my way. Woo hoo! People are noticing my blog! This is a great way to go to the next level.

Next stop: Reward Style!!!

Please let me know what you think of the new look in the comments below!

The Windy City Epicurean