Review: WordPress Complete

Christian over at Unofficial Dreamhost Blog sent me a review copy of WordPress Complete to write a review. He published my review today. The following is my review in its entirety.

I recently received a review copy of WordPress Complete by Hasin Hayder and published by Packt Publishing. The back cover of the book explains that the book is a beginner’s guide, while also saying “any IT-confident user will be able to use the book to produce an impressive blog.”

WordPress Complete is divided into ten chapters. The first entails the basics of blogging and the book progresses all the way to usage of WordPress MU (multiuser).

Chapter 1 provides a beginner’s guide to blogging. It explains blogging and the different types of blogs (audio, video, etc), and also provides a list of common terminology. I found the list of common terms a little lacking; it did not include “theme” or “plug-in”, while it provided an incomplete explanation of permalinks. The first chapter also provides a good overview of the major blogging engines (providers and software), but in a copyediting gaffe, the screenshots of each engine are on the page immediately following the description of the engine. The end of this chapter describes using the WordPress forums, finding themes, finding plug-ins, and getting news about WordPress.

Chapter 2 provides the basics of installing WordPress and the first actions when setting up a new blog. Chapter 3 deals with themes, and details the popular places to find themes, how to install them, and how to make basic changes to the design.

Chapter 4 explains posting, and all the options related to posting new items in WordPress. Chapter 4 also explains comments and the administrative settings regarding comments. While the book touches on the topic of comment spam in this chapter, it provides no useful resources in stopping spam. Especially surprising is that the book does not discuss Akismet, the spam fighting tool created by the makers of WordPress. The book also explains gravatars, but makes no effort to explain implementing gravatars into a WordPress installation.

Chapter 5 describes using using WordPress as a content management system, or CMS, to run a website (as opposed to a blog). This mainly entails editing a theme to make WordPress look less like a blog and more like a website for a business. This section is really important and provides some insight into a rarely used ability of WordPress.

Chapter 6 describes feeds (syndication) and podcasting. This chapter goes way too in-depth when explaining feeds, because WordPress provides feeds automatically. A WordPress beginner does not need to know the complete history of the RSS 2.0 format or the HTML behind a feed. The podcasting section, though, provides a useful in-depth look at audio blogging that would be especially helpful for those wishing to utilize WordPress to podcast.

Chapter 7 goes through the motions of making a theme for WordPress. While providing a good look at how themes work, this Chapter is not needed for the beginning blogger. There are thousands of WordPress themes out there for beginners to use, while those who wish to create their own most likely already know where to find this information and would not be buying this book.

Chapter 8 discusses using WordPress MU (multiuser) to multi-blog, and Chapter 9 tells of how to create plug-ins and widgets.

Chapter 10 might provide the best information for the beginning WordPress user. This chapter describes how to backup a WordPress blog (something few users do and many regret not doing) and how to upgrade to a newer version of WordPress.

Overall I found the book very informative and useful for the beginning WordPress user. I did, however, take issue to the large number of spelling, grammar, and English language usage mistakes. The preface of the book contained the most glaring error, misspelling “blog” as “blod”, which is extremely ironic when one remembers the subject of the book. If you can overlook the many errors in the book (I cringed many times while reading elementary mistakes), WordPress Complete is a nearly complete beginner’s guide to WordPress.

*Update* – A user on the Unofficial Dreamhost Blog asked for my rating of the book and my background. The following was part of my response:

I hesitate to put a rating on this book because its usefulness decreases for people who have experience with WordPress. If you are a beginner who lacks technical skills, I would recommend this book. If you have any experience with WordPress or have technical experience, I would not recommend this book. All of the information in the book is easy to find in the WordPress < a href="http://codex.wordpress.org">Codex and other places.

I am an experienced WordPress user; I’ve been using WordPress for my own blog for over 18 months. I also develop non-blog websites using WordPress.