MassDosage writes "At the the risk of exposing my age I remember building my first website using a rudimentary Unix text editor (Joe) and carefully handcrafting the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while directly logged on to the web server it was being served from. Back then Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) weren't even a glint in the eyes of their creators. A lot has changed and there's now a world of fancy WYSIWYG web page editors to choose from as well as Content Management Systems that allow you to create websites without looking at the underlying code at all. While this is all very useful and allows less technical people to create websites I still feel that having at least some knowledge of how everything works under the hood is empowering — especially in situations where you want to go beyond the limits placed on you by a certain tool. This is where Build Your Own Website: A comic guide to HTML, CSS and Wordpress comes into the picture. Its aim is to enable people new to web development to learn the subject by teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS first and only then describing how to use a Content Management System (CMS) — in this case Wordpress. While Wordpress might not be everyone's kettle of fish it's a good choice as an example of a modern CMS that is easily accessible and very popular. The concepts presented are simple enough that it should be easy enough for a reader to apply them to a different CMS should they want to. Read below for The rest of MassDosage's review.To be clear, this book is intended for people who have little to no experience building websites and it is appropriately written in a non-formal, fun and non-threatening manner. Each chapter has the same format where a topic is initially covered at a high level in the form of a cartoon that is really easy to grasp. This is then followed by a more in-depth repetition of the same content using more "traditional" text and diagrams. Most chapters then end with a summary of the key points which can be used as a simple reference. This layout means that if you're a quick learner or are familiar with some of the concepts you can just read the comic section and then try implementing the material covered on your own. On the other hand if you want more information and depth you can read the text that follows.The material is presented in such a way that it should be easy for the reader to "learn by doing" as they copy or modify what the main character in the cartoon does (in this case building a website for her photography portfolio). All that's needed to get started is a browser, a text editor and some knowledge of how to organize files on a file system. This coverage of raw HTML and CSS may sound off-putting to non-technical people but it's presented in such a simple manner that pretty much anyone should be able to follow along. The benefit of this "back to the basics" approach is that one is not limited to using only a certain piece of software and instead the fundamentals can be applied to other tools later.
|Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress|
|author||Nate Cooper and Kim Gee|
|publisher||No Starch Press|
|summary||An illustrated introduction to the basics of creating a website|
The book provides a good introduction to HTML and describes some useful tags that can be used to start creating a simple website. CSS are explained in a similar manner and the reader is shown how they can be used to easily change the look of a website. These two technologies are the bedrock on top of which pretty much all web development rests and thus understanding them is a prerequisite for anyone wanting to create their own websites. The book also does a good job of showing how a content management system like Wordpress builds on top of these foundations and how you can still get to the underlying HTML and CSS should you want to (as well as why this might be useful if you want to modify something that Wordpress does or doesn't do). On the Wordpress front the basics are covered — from creating pages and page hierarchies to how these can be categorized and grouped. Unfortunately when going into more detail on this topic things lose a bit of coherence. Wordpress is obviously a big beast which has entire books devoted to it and cramming in a summary of it means having to leave out a lot. It seems as if the author might have had to trim these sections down and this has resulted in the text feeling a bit rushed and confusing which is in contrast with the rest of the book where the topics are covered in a slower and more detailed manner. Any book that describes using a piece of software like Wordpress to the level of explaining how to point and click one's way through certain step risks becoming outdated as the software changes in future. For the most part this shouldn't be too much of an issue as Wordpress isn't covered in too much detail but it does mean that this book probably won't be a reference you still use in five year's time.
On the whole Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress succeeds in its goal of presenting a gentle learning curve and guiding people through what is needed to create a website from scratch. It is just technical enough that readers should be able to understand the fundamentals of what they are doing while being non-intimidating and introducing concepts at a relaxed and fun pace via the comic format. By the end of this book readers should have a solid grasp of the basics of website creation and be able to set up a simple site themselves, either by coding this up in HTML and CSS directly or by using Wordpress. For anything more advanced one would need to move on to other books or self-teaching but this book is a great starting point if you're new to the subject.
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