Head First Word Press

Digital Book Club

Jeff Siarto
O’Reilly
ISBN 978-0-596-80628-6
$34.99 / £26.99

Head-First-WordPress.jpg

Another solid title from the Head First series at O’Reilly. This series champions making the complex simple and the instructional design of the training books give some early wins for the reader as they gradually build up to complex technical installations. WordPress has become one of the most popular website platforms and is part of the wave of technologies that collapsed the cost of website builds.

The guide is a start-to-finish roadmap for getting a WordPress blog or website up and running, but the appeal goes far beyond the early days of WordPress as a blogging platform for individuals – and that’s what makes it interesting reading. Like Moveable Type and Blogger, WordPress opened up the market to let anyone create and run websites. Spotting the market need, thousands of hosting companies have configured the right architecture to give a plug-and-play experience for WordPress developers: no need to worry about the database and that complex server architecture – just host on a provider who has done the job already and this is literally an out of a box website.

And this text is more than a great entry level roadmap. It makes WordPress publishing simple and accessible to non-programmers as well as giving programmers a bullet proof step by step and useful reference guide. The biggest appeal will be to small businesses and groups that want to set up a web presence beyond FaceBook and a Yellow Pages listing, but have the constraints of needing an ultra-low cost solution. O’Reilly may not have set out to sell WordPress to us as a solution, but the book makes a powerful case.

For the less techie reader it manages excellently to explain the nature of content, templates, tagging and configuration, unbundling the complexity of a website into its component parts and making the relationships between cause and effect clear: adding photos? Here’s how to align them neatly. Adding new sections? Here’s how to organise the content using tags. For small businesses that will be an eye opener because it shows the ease and simplicity of website publishing without having to build the organisation’s home purely inside Facebook Pages or one of the other global platforms.

For experienced web publishers Head First WordPress will probably bring a smile too. As publisher of Telegraph.co.uk I remember commissioning content management systems and integration support that quickly crossed the million mark. Almost all that functionality is now inside WordPress and Jeff Siarto shows how to unlock it easily. Sometimes we forget the realities of Moore’s Lore and the implications for how to plan smartly in the digital ecosystem. This is a nice reminder and for manager commissioning a website design and build it will prompt smart questions to their agency and technologists. All in all an excellent and accessible read.

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