This post was last updated on August 14th, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Started back on August 11th, 2011 – FrenchCrazy has spent five amazing years online. Comme le temps passe vite !

To commemorate our birthday, I’m going to share with you the never-before-seen images of how FrenchCrazy looked in the past. You’ll also learn the thought-process behind FrenchCrazy and hear the story about how it all began.

So let’s step into my time-capsule!

How FrenchCrazy Began

How did FrenchCrazy come into fruition? Only a few people actually know the story.

Back in the Spring of 2011, I was a budding Penn State Freshman double majoring in both biology and French. It was my second semester on campus and I had to take French 202, a required reading and composition course for all French majors and minors.

Through weekly essays and grammar tests, French 202 did help improve my French writing skills.

But the biggest impact was our “final” class assignment. For this, we had to create a blog on Penn State’s servers, customize it, and post our French writing on there. Then we had to comment on a couple other student’s posts, in French.

After creating the blog for class, I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to continue! So I took the content off Penn State’s servers (because ultimately I would want more freedom on my site.)

I compared various blogging platforms, took the plunge, and decided to purchase my own .com domain. I initially settled on the blogging platform called Blogger, by Google, because it was easier to me to understand than WordPress.

However one aching problem seemed to persist. What would I call the site?!?!

I looked deep down in my heart and knew I loved French and France’s culture. But my love wasn’t rational… it was more intense. I was madly in love and I wanted to share that love with the world. I was crazy for all things French.

Crazy for all things French….

French… Crazy?

FrenchCrazy.

It stuck with me then and there.

FrenchCrazy – Circa 2011

When it came to designing my site for the first time, I admit I was new to it all.

If you’ve never created a website, you don’t realize how much time goes into the design alone. You have to chose great fonts, a banging color scheme, create logos, set up the UX, and tweak everything until it’s just right. Now the process doesn’t just take hours… it takes days of work spanned over time. Believe me, there’s just so much.

Take a look at how FrenchCrazy was in 2011.

Well at the start, I recycled the header image, which was something I used on my Penn State Blog. If I look back at the header today, I understand why I used certain pictures, but I have no clue what’s with the header font. Likewise, I put a space in the words “French Crazy” although as you know, there is no space between the two words.

I also had an itch for a dark background with white text because most sites featured the opposite. In order to stand out and be a bit different, I made that choice.

But then it came to the choice of picking a background image. Well, I didn’t want a solid black, that’s boring! Instead, I had to feature a chic-looking French blonde.

You know, to set the atmosphere.

And hence FrenchCrazy was born.

I laugh looking back at my background image choice – but #noregrets.

And in the first month I published over 30 articles! I had a ton on my mind and had to get stuff onto paper. In the early days, my navigation bar featured: The French People, Fashion, French Food, Language Learning, French Music Translations, Online French Resources, an About me Page and a contact page.

Things were going well. I was hitting a whopping 100 people or so per day! Amazing… or so I thought. In reality traffic only grew exponentially. Nowadays we’re hitting anywhere from five to ten thousand people a day.

When FrenchCrazy started, most would dismiss it as nothing more than a blog. Personally, while I accept the term, blogger, back then being a blogger had a negative connotation to it. The word “blog” almost implied that your work was just a hobby and therefore unprofessional. I strayed away from that title by omitting many personal accounts and focusing more on evergreen content.  

I wanted FrenchCrazy to be a resource for learners, teachers, and students (like me)… I didn’t want it to be another generic “Look I’m in Paris!!” sort of endeavor.

There’s enough of that out there.

The End of White on Black

After a few readers commented that the bright white text on a black background hurt their eyes. I later looked into a few articles and stumbled upon research to support the claim.

I decided it was time for a change.

But besides the viewership advantages, the choice also had some design advantages. For instance, I liked to use photos in my posts. Well, if any photo I wanted to use had a light background than it would stick out way too much against the black backdrop. On the other hand, a white background photo would blend in naturally on a white base.

The dark background also limited me on the colors I could use for my text.

I came up with a bright idea. The French flag has the colors blue, white, and red… with the white portion being in the middle. Why not have the blog be featured in the middle of a French flag!

And so came the next iteration of FrenchCrazy.com.

FrenchCrazy – Circa 2014

The flag design remained the same for quite some time. However the white background inspired my use of a robust red and blue within the text. I enjoyed this design a lot more because it better aligned with France. However, part of me still said, “this looks too much like a blog.”

The Switch to WordPress – April 2015

I continued to use blogger for almost four years. However once I got better at the whole website-thing, I needed to expand my capabilities. Unfortunately, Blogger was pretty restrictive in the way you customize your site. I once again decided to take a plunge and move to a new backend and a new hosting provider.

Overall the move to WordPress solidified my site’s design and helped me emphasize more of a “corporate” look without sacrificing that personal touch.

I would  recommend WordPress to anyone who wants to start a new site. In fact, I blog about creating your own website on ImmersiveIncome. If you ever wanted to start a blog yourself – here’s how I did it.

FRENCHCRAZY SINCE 2016

Since my last iteration of FrenchCrazy, I published a book on Amazon, created a guide on how to live in France, and attended a conference or two in Paris. Overall, the site was moved to a new theme, and I made an effort to get some people on my “team.”

So it’s safe to say FrenchCrazy has evolved.

history of FrenchCrazy

Unlike me back in 2011, I now love the site’s design. And I take it to heart. Everything from the font, to the colors, to the images are now done by me.

I also still love sharing content about the French language and France to you guys.

I know there’s still some areas I can improve. For instance, I still don’t email my mailing list frequently enough or find the coolest things to share to the Facebook page. I still have typos in some of my articles. But I’m always working to fill the gaps and improve the site.

If you read this entire article, thank you for being curious enough about my site. And I look forward to hearing any comments in the section below.

Tell me where you’re from or share your thoughts on the site’s evolution.

Here’s to many more years of learning French and living in France :)

John Elkhoury
FrenchCrazy Founder

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