James Garland's Blog of Family, Friends, Tech, Test and Machine Learning
Head First WordPress by Jeff Siarto – Review
As I have used WordPress as my CMS and use it for my blog I thought it worth looking at Head First WordPress to see how I could best tweak and generally improve my blog presentation. This was the first Head First book I’d seen so the format was new to me and whilst it’s a nice presentation, fun and easy to read, the pages can be a little busy at times which can be a little distracting. Ebook PDF version is searchable, my preferred reading source these days due to the searchability and ease of access on a Kindle reader.
Each chapter works through each of the major processes to setting up and creating a blog using WordPress. It starts with the basics of obtaining and installing WordPress. I was able to skip this chapter as my host (Godaddy) is able to install WordPress for me automatically.
Once installed the book goes through how the look and feel of the WordPress site can be configured. This can be done using themes but can also be hand edited at the HTML and CSS level, details of which are covered. As WordPress can be used as a web site Content Management System (CMS) the book goes into some detail about how this can be done. It outlines how files can be stored, menu’s built, links managed and a whole host of other information for managing permalinks in a human readable form.
An area of less concern to me but may be useful to others is running a blog with a team of people. The book goes into how you might organise and manage the team’s blog. Avatar’s for each team member could be setup and managed by Gravatar which is supported by WordPress (Gravatar is a service that allows a user to upload an avatar once and then configure it to be propagated to other sites by the gravatar.com service.) The book goes into detail of how users can use one avatar for all social sites and then link this to their WordPress site.
Of course, whilst most people might use YouTube or other video sharing sites to host their videos (the book does outline how to link to videos on these sites), some may still want to host their own videos from their own site. The book shows details but it doesn’t really highlight how much bandwidth may be involved and the associated cost.
I use the Google Analytics and Akismet plugins on my blog. Google Analytics is an excellent (free) website traffic online analysis tool. Spam comments submitted to your blog could be an issue too. This is where Akismet steps in. This book goes through how to setup and use these and other plug ins.
I have an interest and at some point, (when I get time), will start podcasting. Podcasting and the RSS syndication has to be recorded and posted. WordPress has this ability all of which the book guides the user through.
Security and an assurance that the blog won’t be hacked has to be considered when anyone is creating and publishing a blog. The book highlights how security is considered in WordPress. I would further suggest that people listen regularly to Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte’s Security Now podcast over on the TWiT network. This is by far the best way to stay on top of security issues on the desktop and on the web.
Lastly the book goes through how to optimise the blog for fast and efficient dissemination of information. This means the correct maintenance and administration of the blogs site traffic (via Google Analytics), database and caching of information in the background. It also touches on how the blog bandwidth can be managed so that the site may not suffer from the Digg effect.
Whilst the book does attempt to briefly summarise what it didn’t cover, it would have been nice to see more detail on, for example, SEO management of a site to help drive traffic. This, of course would help with advertising revenue on your site, should you wish to add advertising later (another thing the book does not cover).
Overall though, I’d recommend this book especially to beginners of WordPress. You do require a bit of tech know how however but it does guide the user quite well through these areas.