History, the future, and some background

Okay, I’ve got a whole bunch of items to cover here. I don’t like doing too many verbiage posts here outside of recaps, but some of this is about changes too important to ignore.

As you may have noticed, some rather big, historic firsts have came to be here on Quinn’s Big City in the past couple of weeks. A recent (2009-11-16/22) weekly LOVIEE included the first multi-week event to be featured here, Stenciling Power (09-SPMAK). Then, the December monthly LOVIEE feature has included our first ever event to cover every day of a monthly LOVIEE: this year’s version of The Ice at Discovery Green (09/10-IADG).

Anyway, with this bit of Quinn’s Big City history comes some changes. Up until now, monthly LOVIEE events were always reposted in some form as part of the weekly LOVIEE. With the addition of week- to month-long events on the monthly LOVIEE, it’s becoming much more difficult to do that and thus some of the those events may not always be posted to the weekly LOVIEE as well. I have in the past reposted monthly LOVIEE events to the weekly LOVIEE so one may just follow the weeklies. I will still carry over the one-day up to week-long events; it is the events lasting longer than a full week that may not carry over. The events that do carry over will often have most of the verbiage snipped out with a link back to the monthly LOVIEE in its place.

I hope this doesn’t inconvenience too many readers. There are a fair number of these type of events that run for weeks that aren’t really appropriate for the ongoing LOVIEE. Speaking of which, I am in the process of restructuring the ongoing LOVIEE into several based by type of event. Due to a technical issue (namely, WordPress does not let you assign tags or categories to pages–yet), it’s not as simple as I’d like it to be.

Eventually, I may be abandoning the WordPress-based blog format in favor of something database-driven, probably Drupal, maybe Joomla. This will allow many new features and ease administration as well as open up the possibility of a paid membership section of the site. This (particularly the paid membership section) is still in the early planning stages and is far from definite.

Okay, another subject I need to touch upon, a bit of background about the site, particularly its design, and how it came to be. If you don’t want the gory details you can skip ahead near the end.

The theme currently on the site now, including all the graphic design elements that go with it, are my own work. I haven’t made a big deal about this, except in person with a few speific people. Unlike the bloggers with more money than sense, I did not hire a graphic designer, nor did I grab a canned theme and use it as-is or with only a nominal customization. Not to say that bloggers can’t be good graphic designers as well: here’s one example of a well-designed personal blog and I’ll also point out another great design he did for a friend. (Note: I link to these as examples of design only, and do not endorse the content therein.)

Now, of course, whether I should have hired a designer is a matter of personal taste; I have yet to get a comment saying “nice blog, but your theme stinks like ripe gym socks/Limburger cheese/(insert favorite stinky object here).” I’m getting enough repeat visitors that I don’t think the design is the issue.

The name of the theme is Hasenpfeffer; I may explain the derivation of the name in a future post, especially if enough aggressively curious people ask. And no, I’m not making it available for distribution, at least while it remains the active theme on this site.

The fact I made the design myself was originally and continues to be a key part of what makes this site unique, at least the way I see it. I easily could have had this site up and running within a day were it just a matter of grabbing the domain and throwing up a WordPress install with the default theme or a canned theme. I didn’t have most of the design pieces conceptualized, much less committed to any tangible form, until I actually got the site live. The first “live” version was my first attempt at a logo with “A local events listing blog for Houston” and my soft and wide launch target dates of 2009-08-31 and 2009-10-05 respectively.

When I finally realized it was time to really get moving on the site, I drew the logo and threw it up with a “coming soon” page. Then, I made sure it really was coming soon, not just the running “coming soon” joke that stays up for months on end. (I’ve seen enough sites do that that I find it an annoyance I hope never to repeat myself.) And, as difficult as it is to say in a public entry, I had serious doubts of making my wide launch target of 2009-10-05; I was tempted to push it back one, two, or maybe even three weeks. Two things worked in my favor: I got the site ready for soft launch over a week earlier than I expected, and I feel like I really started hitting my stride right as wide launch approached. I didn’t get the level of fanfare I really wanted to, as work on this site was a larger endeavor than even I was willing to admit to myself. But, I learned from that. Sometimes the so-called “school of hard knocks” teaches the best lessons of all.

It was tempting to do a “wide relaunch” but I decided to pass. I’ve learned that trying to get a huge influx all at once is like eating candy bars for energy; it works short-term but then there’s the crash after the sugar rush wears off.

I am in this for the long haul; it’s technically a hobby, but I do take this almost as seriously as a part-time job. I wish now I had the foresight to have started this much sooner, as I have said in at least one recap.

If you like my endeavor, there are numerous ways to help further its success:

  • Become a fan of the Facebook page, then suggest the page to your friends in Houston and/or share the link.
  • Follow the Twitter account, retweet the particularly good posts, and/or feature @quinnsbigcity in #followfriday. This works particularly well if most of your Twitter followers also live near, live in, or regularly visit Houston.
  • Tell your friends that live in, live near, or regularly visit Houston.
  • Tell the people that run the events when they ask “where did you hear about us?”
  • If you’re on Yelp, add this site as your “second favorite Web site” on your profile. (Other sites may have a similar profile field which you can use to your advantage in the same way.)

If I’ve fallen short somewhere, tell me. I can’t fix mistakes I don’t know I’ve made.

If you’ve been a loyal reader, thanks for the support. If you’re coming by for the first time, thanks for checking it out.

Either way, it is you, the readers out there, who make this endeavor worthwhile. The best is yet to come, and as we close out 2009, I look forward to a great 2010.