Many people do not want to admit to their weaknesses, and sometimes they find ways to make light of their foibles–or at least enjoy a comedian’s light satire. Jeff Foxworthy once joked how being a redneck means “a glorious absence of sophistication.”
So imagine how refreshing admitting to a lack of glorious WordPress sophistication can be with a book like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress  by Susan Gunelius (@susangunelius) . You can say, “Yes, I don’t know much about one of the most widely used content management systems around.” But one read will give you the sophistication you want and the courage to implement what you’ve learned. That’s what I gained after receiving a review copy in the mail.
Learn the WordPress essentials from a designer’s perspective
The book covers the basics, essentially explaining the significant difference between .org and .com versions of WordPress, as well as how categories, pages and tags are used. The book’s best guidance is a result of Gunelius’s reliance on Web designers’ experience. For example, she recommends the plugin All for One SEO by Joost de Valk, a Web designer favorite in the blogosphere.
As a result, the explanations are technical enough (including webpage coding references) without requiring you to be a Web designer to appreciate the information. Now, this may be somewhat expected, since available e-commerce and website WordPress templates can be installed with minimal coding experience. But in showing what you can do with a WordPress blog, Gunelius gets it right.
Gunelius also inserts paragraphs that breadcrumb (that is, track back) to related material. The book is well structured and illustrated so you can jump around to segments as needed. Sections called “Least You Need to Know” summarize just enough to jar your reading memory from the last time you picked up the book.
What you will learn reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress
- How to create policies regarding comments, privacy, and terms and conditions of usage
- A few words about CSS and HTML
- How to manage feeds and subscriptions
- The subtle differences among categories, pages and posts, as well as managing hierarchy and navigation
- How to use links and polls
- How to insert advertising into your blog
The book also approaches many topics with do-it-yourself determination. You can learn how to install WordPress.org into a host, even though many hosting services also offer WordPress.org as part of their packages. I think this makes the book a solid value – so much is said about starting sites without having to know Web design code, but it’s still important to understand the role that code can play. Plus the book makes customization possible. (Think of it as learning how to add a custom header on a Mustang you have long wanted to customize.)
Tips for growing traffic are grounded in realistic expectations. If you are used to reading make-money-with-blogging-overnight come-ons on the Web, you’re in for a welcome treat with this guide. The suggestions are sage ideas to manage your blog once you have it set up. You may find other opinions online, but few will be as well crafted as Gunelius’ recommendations.
The SEO chapter is short, but serviceable in getting your content prepped for the search engine gods. A subsequent chapter on Web analytics is bare-bones and brief, covering standard definitions and installation. But its placement (wisely separate from the SEO chapter) emphasizes its importance in understanding blog content performance beyond keywords and how bloggers can adapt their promotion plans.
If you are new to blogging, you’ll gain a lot from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress even if you decide to use Blogger, Joomla or another platform instead. If you’re a WordPress user already, you’ll gain new insights that will take your content to the next level.