I should know better. I know I should. Or more accurately, I should at least pretend that I know that I should know better. Or something like that. I’m an IT Pro with a dirty little secret. Wanna hear? I’m a sucker for a Dummies Guide. There. I’ve said it. Please don’t judge me. I know I should like mucking around in spec guides, deep dive how-to’s and RFC’s, but seriously, have you ever tried to read that stuff?
What I want is something that will cut to the chase, tell you 90% of what you probably want to know, use simple language and point you to where you can find more if you need more details. True to form, the latest release by Dummie’s author Lisa Sabin-Wilson doesn’t fail to deliver.
It was fortuitous that “WordPress for Dummies” arrived courtesy of Wayne Small (www.sbsfaq.com) when it did. I’d been considering a refresh of our corporate website for a while, but wasn’t overly excited about having to work with the existing platform. After talking with Wayne about his new WordPress based site, I thought some further investigation was warranted.
The WordPress platform came to life in 2003 as the successor to a personal publishing system called b2/cafelog. Since then it has grown to become arguably the most popular self-hosted blogging tool in the world which, as I was to learn, is also a formidable CMS platform for less ‘bloggy’ sites. Sabin-Wilson’s publication guides the reader through an easy introduction to WordPress, including options to either self-host, or use the hosted wordpress.com offering. Beyond this the majority of the book is devoted to how-to-use topics on the various sections of the WordPress product. Sections such as “Inserting media files into your post” and “Making your post links pretty” provide an easy to read introduction to help get beginners up and blogging in no time.
One of the great features of the WordPress platform is the flexibility provided by the truly astounding range of often free Themes, plugins and other customisation options available. Sabin-Wilson provides a brief introduction to the range of options available, and then sets the reader loose to explore with a list of recommended sites for further reading. In my case even more tantalising was the chapter on “WordPress as a Content Management System”, or in other words, WordPress as a less-bloggy-than-usual site. Worthy of a book on its own, this topic is given 27 pages that barely scratch the surface. What it does provide however is a true Dummies Guide experience, giving you just enough of a firm but gentle push to get you moving in the right direction.
All in all, a classic Dummies Guide. The language is conversational and easy to read, the technical details sufficient, but ultimately leaving you wanting more. In my opinion, the perfect introduction to a new technology.