Book review : Head First WordPress

Recently, I seem to be receiving quite a few WordPress books for review.  For anyone investigating building your blog initiative,  Head First WordPress is the best I have read yet.  The Head First books always present the information numerous ways to catch your attention, highlight key areas and make you contemplate new topics before moving along.

Head First WordPress starts the reader with a basic understanding of the platform, quick install, dashboard and a quick walk through making your first posting.  While I run many blogs (including this one) on WordPress, I appreciated the way anyone could have read this first chapter and felt comfortable in posting via WordPress.

Chapter 2 moves into simple and advanced design changes with a ground floor introduction to the anatomy of WordPress, PHP usage, templates, themes, stylesheets, widgets and more.  With these 40 pages you should be able to make simple changes, add widgets, change a few PHP files and create a custom homepage.

Chapters 3 and 4 work together in organization and showing how WordPress can be a content management system using categories and the strength of using tags in conjunction.  Simplifying navigation and changing colors is a focus in the CSS section.  Roles of users and commenting ability rounds out the 70+ pages in these two chapters.

Podcasting and video embedding are a major focus in social media right now and Chapter 5 covers all aspects.  Even a sample breakdown of xml usage and possible plug-ins are listed so anyone could begin sharing media quickly.  I appreciated how they showed numerous examples of hosting your own, embedding and pulling content from remote sites in Chapter 5.  They carried this into Chapter 6 with the explanation of RSS and how this shares your content further than anyone just reading your blog on the web.

Now even I learned some tricks in Chapter 7 for locking down your WordPress servers.  From security in accounts, directory  security, backups and the power of plug-ins was covered in a middle level with plenty of diagrams, pictures and step-by-step tutorials.

Chapter 8 dove into external versus self hosting, WordPress speed improvements, tracking (such as Google Analytics) and caching of your files.  I knew of some of the plug-ins they explained and suggested, but the breakdown of how they functioned was incredibly helpful.

Just when you felt they were done they toss another 10 pages of 10 tips that didn’t quite fit anywhere else in the book.  The book is based on recent WordPress versions as they used the beta of 3.0 for examples and screenshots making it a must have for anyone upgrading and new to WordPress.

This will make it into TheSocialNetworker book selections in the Amazon Store you can find linked above or right here.  I place the top technical books I have reviewed in the store for you to easily find and purchase. (yes they are referral links to Amazon).