Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Welcome to the New Urbanophile 2.0

It’s a brand new day here at The Urbanophile. A new site design, a new URL, a new technical platform, and a new hosting provider – but still the same mission, helping America’s cities find ways to thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

For those reading through subscriptions, I’d encourage you to check out the new site at It should work fine with any browser, but it will look different on Internet Explorer.

Please, please, anyone who links to me update your links to the new location.

Feedback is welcomed. Please post it as comments here – good and bad. As a tough design critic myself, I’m not really in a position to avoid hearing about areas you think I could improve on.

A word on my new “Passionate About Cities” tag line. I’ll be the first to admit that I adapted that from Pret A Manager, where I ate lunch almost every day when I was working in London. (I absolutely love London – anybody there want to hire me?)

You might be wondering if this means I’m no longer focusing on the Midwest region. The answer is No. I intend to continue making the Midwest my core focus but am going to be diversifying a bit, such as with my recent California post.

This web site should work like any other, but if you are interested, here is some more information.


Since I don’t post every day or on a regular schedule, the easiest way to keep up is to subscribe. You can subscribe by email, and have the blog show up in your inbox shortly after it rolls off the presses. The system will send you an email with a link in it you have to use to confirm your address and activate the subscription, so please look for it. If you don’t see it, check your spam folder.

Or, you can subscribe via RSS, for use in programs like Google Reader. The feeds are the same as the old blog, so no need to do anything to keep getting it if you already subscribe.

New with this blog is that I’m publishing a comments RSS feed for those who want to subscribe to comments as well.

You can also follow me on Twitter. You might notice on the right side of the screen a box that shows my most recent Tweets, so you can get a current view every time you visit.


As I said, you can subscribe to comments now. Also, by reader request, I added a box on the left sidebar that displays the most recent comments on the blog.

I am now using WordPress as my platform, not Blogger. What that means is that you can no longer use your Google id to post comments. If you fill in your information in the comments form once, it should remember who you are.

Also, there is a new checkbox enabled function that has the system email you when new comments arrive on a post. So if you are only interested in comments on a particular post, you can subscribe just to that one by email.

Lastly, comments are disabled on posts older than 30 days.

What’s Next

After I ease into the new platform for a while, I’ll look to roll out some enhancements as they make sense. I’d like to add threaded comments and improved search, for example. But my plan is to stay squarely focused on producing the most compelling content, not web “frosting”.

Also, I’ve got a ton of work to do in the archives in terms of updating internal links to point to the new blog, cleaning up categories, etc.

The old site will stay up indefinitely so that links don’t get broken.

If you’ve got suggestions of things you would like to see, please post them here or shoot me a note.

My Old Personal Homepage

For those who have visited my old personal home page, that content is no longer available and that site has been merged with this one. The content was extremely dated. I have retained the software download pages for the free software I support.


I’d like to mention the folks that made this new site possible:

  • Renee Wilmeth (Indianapolis) – along with Katie “Urban design your blog, Dude” Buitrago (Chicago) – gave me the kick in the pants I needed to take this on.
  • Mike Doyle (Chicago) of CHICAGO CARLESS drove the site strategy and content development.
  • Polina Osherov (Indianapolis) supplied the photography.
  • Matt Hale (Indianapolis) supplied the graphic design of the blog and logo. Matt is part of the team at Vision 3 Creative.
  • Lisa Gishoff (Chicago) of Gizmo Design created my initial Word Press template and was my “training wheels” on this new platform.

I was the project manager and also did a lot of hacking on the template myself. It’s been a while since I got to be hands on, and it was a fun – though a bit more fun than I wanted in some cases since I don’t know any of the programming languages this system is written in. Relax – I’ve never let that stop me before. I’m also doing my own conversion, which is an adventure in progress since I’ve never done this either. I made the executive decision to abandon cross-browser consistency as a goal.

Thanks to all the beta testers who helped out as well.

I’m sure there will be some bumps in the road. I’ve already got a list of approximately one million pixels that aren’t properly aligned, according to Matt, among many other enhancements that need to be implemented. As it always should be for the person at the top, I take 100% of the blame for any problems with the site.


12 Responses to “Welcome to the New Urbanophile 2.0”

  1. CGHill says:

    I gave up on cross-browser consistency about the time I realized that browser makers are interested in web standards only to the extent that they hamper the competition.

    The new front page looks good, at least in a sort-of-out-of-date Firefox.

  2. ardecila says:

    Wow… this site looks incredibly professional. If people didn’t take you seriously before, they should definitely take note now.

  3. Walker Evans says:

    Congrats on the update! Looks nice! 😀

  4. Sacha says:

    I don’t remember what the old site looked like, so I can’t compare. The new site looks slick, though. I checked it out both in Firefox (latest version) and IE (well, an IE tab in Firefox thanks to an add-in), and it looks good in both…although more professional in Firefox.

    I will say that the font in Firefox is a teensy bit hard to read on the screen, especially the sidebars that are smaller and in italics. While the IE version looks more amateur, the letters in that font are bigger and easier to read.

    Well done, Aaron, and good luck!

  5. Jim Meredith says:

    Aaron –


    The new site is bright, crisp, well organized, and professional! And the work is great, as always.

  6. Scott says:

    Nicely done sir! I like the logo work as well.

  7. Alon Levy says:

    It looks a lot more professional than the Blogger site. The content remains great as ever.

  8. Thanks for the comments, everybody. Glad you all like it.

  9. Lynn Stevens says:

    Peopling Places has updated the link!

  10. DetBurbs says:

    Love the new site. It presents the content well and allows the reader to focus on your words. Thanks for adding the recent comments in the sidebar. I was one of those who requested that addition and it helps to keep up on which posts are being actively discussed.

  11. Aaron, all I can say is WOW. The people you worked with are obviously very talented, and you have adopted a design that really reflects the quality of the work that you have been producing since the beginning of this blog.

    I will have to spend some time to really get a sense of everything, but at first glance there is a professional amount of polish put on everything. But nothing is overdone. Great work.

    Oh, and also, thank you for adding a Favicon. I love lining up distinctive Favicons with no text info along my bookmarks bar on Firefox. I just go down the line clicking them, and seeing an icon that I know belongs to your blog rather than “some blogger blog” is very helpful.

    Keep up the great work.

  12. Thanks, Andrew. I really appreciate it.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

About the Urbanophile


Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

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