First a word about the Head First series. It is a new approach to technical books (at least so far) that O’Reilly is championing. Head First aim to help you learn the material by keeping your brain interested and focused on the material with the use of visual, eye-catching and unexpected graphical aids [see example below], a conversational style that includes an appeal to your emotions, and activities to get both sides of your brain engaged.
I have obviously not done full justice to the reasoning and encourage you to check out the full explanation. In my non-scientific observations, I did find that I spent more time reading and thinking about the material without my mind wandering, and this despite my already deep knowledge of the subject.
But let’s talk about the subject matter itself – WordPress. This book is aimed at anyone with at least a basic knowledge of HTML & CSS, and running a website, and covers the self-hosted version of WordPress, not the one that’s hosted by WordPress at WordPress.com.
Head First WordPress starts naturally enough with installing WP and writing your first post. It quickly gets into how to modify your theme so your blog doesn’t look the boring default, treating WP as a CMS (content management system) and making it play nice for the search engines, not to mention the practically infinite power that are plugins.
I was relieved to see a full chapter on security, and while I did not completely agree with author Jeff Siarto’s recommendations, they are very good recommendations. Computer security is hardly black and white, but more of an opinion and experiential driven art. If you are concerned about security, and you should be, do your research and/or consult an expert.
The penultimate chapter deals with performance and ways to ‘speed up’ WordPress, a welcome and important topic. If your blog starts pulling in a decent audience, you’ll either need to implement some of these measures or get bigger more expensive hosting. Again, here is an example of there being many more times the number of potential solutions than are laid out here. For example, the WP Super Cache plugin is recommended, but the W3 Total Cache plugin is also highly another viable option.
The last 10 pages are devoted to 10 topics that could not be covered in greater depth without making the book twice as long. This was a nice addition that helps to point out how big the WordPress universe is, and that you should not use any single book as your bible, no matter how large it is.
If you are contemplating the jump to WordPress, or have just dipped your toes into the water, Head First WordPress is a solid book that will give you a nice foundation. Also, if the rest of the Head First books are anything like this one, then I’m going to be looking at those first the next time I’m in the market to learn something.
(Disclaimer: Untethered Dreams received a complimentary review copy of this product.)